The Importance of Theming

After more than three decades, I still walk around the parks in awe and wonder at the attention to detail the Disney Imagineers put in to everything; from major attractions all the way down to resort restrooms, you can see the personal touches at work.  But as you walk through the parks, particularly through the rides and attractions, how important or should I say, how much does that extra-theming-mile, mean to you?

Let’s start in the Magic Kingdom.  I love the Magic Kingdom.  I am in my forties and it is still my favorite of the four major Disney parks at Walt Disney World.  When you get on a ride like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or Peter Pan’s Flight, there is not one thing about that ride that doesn’t submerge you in to the character and their story.  You ride honey pots and cruise the Hundred Acre Woods.  For Peter Pan you ride pirate ships throughout the entire story of Peter Pan.  From the moment you board the ride vehicle until you step off again, you are surrounded by the story.

Other rides?  Well, they could use a little help.  My husband LOVES the Mad Tea Party at Walt Disney World.  Why he fixates on that one ride when there are so many that are far superior in their theming and imagining, is beyond me.   While the tea cups are fun, to me it is a carnival ride.  I get the whole Mad Hatter/Alice in Wonderland reference and the sign with the Mad Hatter at the entrance, but other than that, where is the theming?

Over in Epcot my new favorite ride (well, not new-new, but the newest addition) is Soarin’.  Love this ride.  However, if you have ever watched the “behind the scenes” Imagineering special where they talk about how the ride was designed, you’ll notice that essentially they took that rough concept (made with an Imagineer’s old Erector set) and just put it in a vacant spot.  For such an amazing ride, the queue area is mind-numbingly boring and the room itself, once you are inside, is just very basic.

Think about when you are walking in to the Hollywood Tower of Terror hotel lobby.  From the time you walk up the path toward the hotel and through the doors, you already feel like you have stepped on to the “set”.  To me, walking through the lobby and going in to the library and then back to wait for the elevator is almost as impressive a sight as the ride itself.

Don’t get me wrong, every ride and attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort is absolutely amazing.  I would ride each and every one of them time and time again.  For me personally, though, I enjoy when the Imagineers go that extra mile and create an entire “world” out of the attraction that you are a part of almost before you walk through the door and sit down in your ride vehicle.  That is Disney magic at its finest.  What about you?  Is it all about the ride or does theming play a part in your enjoyment level?

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