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The Great Enigma: Casting Call - ImagiNations 2011

            In March 2011, I was a participant in the Walt Disney Imagineering ImagiNations Design Competition.  The competition allows college students to design some sort of themed entertainment for a Disney property, and, if selected as a finalist, participants are given the opportunity to present to Imagineers for a cash prize and internship opportunities.  My classmate Jared Penton and I designed an attraction for Disney’s Hollywood Studios diligently for four weeks; however, despite our efforts, we were informed that we were not finalists in the competition.  Regardless, we are thankful to Walt Disney Imagineering for having this program for college students to display their talents and for allowing us to participate.

            We decided to design a family-friendly interactive adventure dark ride with a completely custom storyline and first-of-its-kind technologies.  It was an ambitious undertaking for two team members, but we feel that we gave the project our best efforts.  Below is a full outline and story treatment for the attraction, full of images and diagrams.  Unless otherwise stated, all images were designed by myself, Josh Mercer.  I assumed the role of Team Leader, and was mostly responsible for Show Writing, 3D Modeling, and some Graphic Design.  Jared was responsible for Vehicle Design, Character Development, and Concept Art.  Please feel free to send any comments or questions to us, and we hope that learning about our attraction concept is as enjoyable as it was to create.

Synopsis of Attraction

            The Great Enigma: Casting Call is a double-sided, interactive dark ride attraction concept for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Based on new and proven technology, the attraction answers the question “What would it be like to assume a role in an action-adventure movie?”  The Great Enigma places guests right in the middle of the action, giving them the opportunity to witness firsthand the magic of movies.  Not only do guests get to witness that magic, but they get to participate as well.  The attraction allows eight guests per vehicle to interact with the scenes through the use of gyroscopes, large orbs that monitor motions and gestures.  The attraction has two entirely separate tracks, and, throughout the attraction, the two sides are battling one another, either directly or indirectly.  Some of the attraction’s scenes are static sets entirely animated with projections, lighting, and audio, meaning that the scene sequences can be generated randomly.  The interactivity, paired with two separate tracks and random show sequences, equates to never having the same experience twice.

            Because the attraction is two-sided and a multi-scene dark ride attraction, the theoretical hourly capacity should be fantastic even for peak crowds.  However, due to the random show sequences and guest interaction, the attraction would be highly entertaining and phenomenally popular, making re-rides imperative.  Thus, the attraction’s queue includes interactive games to enjoy while waiting.  This attraction concept is a fun, adventurous experience that can be enjoyed by the entire family.


Figure 1 - Attraction Facade

Story Treatment

            Guests enter the attraction at Studio 25, a movie studio set in the backlot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Through the outdoor queue, guests walk past camera mounts and monitors with film reels rolling, showing raw footage of a movie being filmed.  As guests enter the building for Studio 25, they are greeted by a grand lobby decorated with posters featuring films of Studio 25’s past.  Over the reception desk is a large typographic display of tally marks representing the number 25. 

Figure 2 - Screening and Pre-Show Rooms

Guests then enter the studio’s screening room, which shows action-packed clips of a film that is in production.  Scenes include a fantastic car chase, a mid-air pursuit, spectacular pyrotechnics, and even some dialogue that reveals glimpses of the attraction’s storyline.

A - Exterior queue

B - Lobby/reception

C - Screening Room

D - Pre-show Rooms

E - Hallway

F - FastPass Distribution

G - FastPass Entrance

H - Exit gift shop

I - Tunnel: four lanes (Standby, FastPass, Handicapped, Exit)

From here, guests enter the pre-show room, where they meet Parker, the overstressed casting director for The Great Enigma, next summer’s blockbuster hit movie.  Parker invites guests to be extras for a pinnacle scene for the movie, which is currently filming in a nearby soundstage.  Before signups, Parker tells guests a bit more about the movie.


Figure 3 - Dr. Albert Specter (Artwork by Jared Penton)

Figure 4 - Dr. Garrison Spark (Artwork by Jared Penton)

The Great Enigma Movie Synopsis

The Great Enigma film is about two men, Dr. Albert Specter and Dr. Garrison Spark, who are scientists and former research partners.  They worked together for years, and, one day, they invented something quite remarkable.  Phantom Fuel, as they called it, was the most sustainable fuel source ever created.  It glided through its engine faster than imaginable, but at such a rate that human eyes could only perceive it as a slow mist, hence the name.
            Dr. Specter saw the economical uses of the fuel, wanting to power cars and homes; however, Dr. Spark saw its power as a means to further industry and space exploration.  Knowing that only one possibility would receive the focus of their research, neither would succumb to the other.  The partnership split, and the two formed their own companies.  Now much older, they are more alike than they know.  Neither unveiled the fuel source to the public, using the fuel instead to create unimaginable machines.  Both invented transforming vehicles using their own modified versions of the original fuel.  Dr. Specter’s vehicle transforms into a quadruped “prowling” vehicle, in which the tires protrude out of place to reveal four legs for sprinting and leaping above obstacles.  Dr. Spark’s vehicle has the ability to be a skirt-less hovercraft, soaring several feet above the ground surface.  Finally, both doctors are independently yet simultaneously pursuing the Elixir of Life, a concoction lost by an ancient civilization, to outlast the other.

Before leaving the pre-show room, Parker reminds everyone that once they are on set, they must remain in character, as they are trying to film the scene in one take.  Out of the pre-show room, guests enter a hallway that leads to a tunnel.  This tunnel takes guests to the soundstage where the filming is taking place.  However, the tunnel also signifies the transition from film studio to real adventure.  Once on the other side of the tunnel, the surroundings will not resemble a film set.  There are no cameras, no film crew, no green screens.  The film comes to life.


Figures 5 and 6 - Interactive queue

The first room that guests encounter beyond the tunnel is a large cavern.  Within the chamber, lab equipment from the two scientists has been set up for the expedition.  Guests can assist the scientists prepare for the journey at over twenty different interactive stations.  When given certain recipes, guests are responsible for producing the serums necessary to reach the Elixir.


Figure 7 - Queue Split Graphic

After climbing a winding pathway and into another tunnel, guests come to a crossroad.  Guests must decide which scientist they will be assisting on the journey.  Once deciding, guests walk down to the loading bay for the attraction.  Guests enter the prototype vehicles designed by their chosen scientist and prepare for their expedition to find the Elixir of Life.


Figure 8 - Gyroscope Functions

As guests board, they will notice a large sphere directly in front of them, called the gyroscope.  The gyroscope is a device that uses gestures such as rolling and rotating to interact with the attraction.  For example, if a guest is instructed to blast something, a swift forward roll of the gyroscope would cause a blast.  All of the vehicle’s gyroscopes collectively guide a much larger device called the omniBlaster.  The omniBlaster is a turret mounted on the rear of each vehicle, and has the ability to perform many unique tasks to overcome any obstacle.


Figure 9 - Attraction Scenes

The vehicles dispatch simultaneously, and each enters a dark, winding cavern.  The chosen scientist begins narrating the adventure, informing guests of the objective, to seek the Elixir of Life.  In the context of the film, the scientists are unaware that the other is also pursuing the Elixir.  This becomes clear when the scientists are startled to see the opposing vehicle also seeking the Elixir.


Figure 10 - “Specticle”, Dr. Specter’s vehicle (Artwork by Jared Penton)

Figure 11 - “Bolt”, Dr. Spark’s vehicle (Artwork by Jared Penton)

In a swift accelerated moment, both vehicles reach the first of two transforming scenes of the attraction.  The scene is, in actuality, a static set of a cavern with active volcanic activity.  However, with the help of projections, lighting, and audio, the scene can be one of three randomly generated scenes, using similar technology to The Magic, The Memories, and You! Castle Show.  Essentially, the sets act as screens, and projected animations on the three-dimensional surface simulate an actual event, such as lava flow, waterfall, etc.  In the first sequence, hot lava is flowing towards the exit of the cavern.  Guests must use the Ice Blast function to freeze the lava and prevent it from blocking the exit.  In the second sequence, lava has hardened over the exit, and must be blasted away using the Lava Blaster function.  In the third and final possible sequence, rocks have fallen in front of the exit, and must be lifted from place using the Levitation function of the gyroscope.

 Figure 12 - Possible show sequences in Volcano Room

From here, guests enter the Aquifer scene, where the two vehicles face off and blast each other.  Each direct hit results in a spinout.  Each indirect hit results in blasting the wet cavern walls, splashing guests with water.


Figure 13 - Detail of Waterfall Room (Artwork by Jared Penton)

Figure 14 - Possible show sequences of Waterfall Room

The vehicles then enter the other transforming scene, where projected waterfalls are flowing on both sides of a bridge.  In the first possible sequence, large portions of the bridge have fallen out due to the blasts of the previous scene.  Using the Time Warp function of the gyroscopes, guests must briefly reverse time, causing the pieces to rise back into place.  In the second sequence, a torrential waterfall is pouring over the exit.  Using the Grav Shift function, guests must alter the pull of gravity upward.  As a result, all waterfalls begin flowing upward and pooling on the ceiling of the cave.  In the last possible sequence, the waterfalls are frozen solid, and guests must blast away the ice using the Torch function.

Vehicles then enter the Whispering Caves scene, where the teams again face off.  This time, the teams use the Storm function to create swirling wind around their opponents.  Wind effects combined with physical spinouts simulate whirlwinds inside the cave.


Figure 15 - The Elixir of Life atop a rock pillar

The vehicles then reach the climax of the experience, the Treasure Room.  Amidst the various treasures in the room, all guests can see, perched far away on a rock pillar, is the Elixir of Life.  The selected scientist steers the vehicle away from the other and, with the help of a large screen, the vehicles transform into their alternate forms.  The scientists tell the guests to charge the gyroscopes so they can really blast the opposing team.  When the vehicles meet again, they only have a brief opportunity to blast the other.

The vehicles spin into an ancient temple where they navigate through ruins.  The teams face off for a second time, blasting each other and sending each other into a spinout.  When the spinning subsides, both vehicles are facing the Elixir.  Gyroscopes are switched to a Tractor Beam function and guests try to collect the Elixir as both vehicles race towards it.  In a fast blast, the two vehicles fly past the Elixir into darkness.

Figure 16 - Flag designs

When the vehicles round a corner, they see the two scientists (audio-animatronics) discover that the Elixir was simply spring water mixed with a rare fruit juice.  The two scientists share a laugh and set aside their differences.  Beyond this scene, there are two flags, representing the two teams.  The team with the highest combined percentage of effort is declared the winner, shown by raising the flag of that team.  The vehicles then approach the unloading bay and the guests exit.


            We really had a lot of fun creating The Great Enigma.  It was a great experience designing something that could be built for a Disney park.  Designing theme park attractions is my passion and I am just thankful to be considered.  I hope our hard work is shown in the final design and others enjoy it as much as we do.  Again, please feel free to ask any question for Jared or me.

Figure 17 - Overview of entire attraction

Figure 18 - Location of Attraction Relative to Existing Attractions

Project 2 (Part 3 of 5): Versus Theme Park - Pokemon Village

Pokemon Village is based on the popular video and card game characters that have had an abundant presence in the last few generations.  This land is for the young and young-at-heart, and allows guests to encounter the creatures that they could only imagine before.  The attractions in this land are intended to unite parents and children instead of catering to one demographic.  While this could be considered the “children’s land” of the park, anyone can have fun in Pokemon Village.

Animatronic creatures from the Pokemon universe are brought to life throughout the land and in every attraction in Pokemon Village.  Guests can view dozens of the most popular Pokemon creatures.  A particular challenge was to incorporate proportional representations of both the original and new Pokemon.  There are now nearly 500 Pokemon creatures, so it was necessary to determine the most popular characters.

Beginning with one of the most popular attractions, Pika-Chu-Chu Train (Mack YoungSTAR Coaster) is a thrilling family coaster featuring the most recognizable Pokemon of all, Pikachu.  The attraction’s queue is housed inside the large Pokemon Center, which provides all Pokemon-related services for the entire village.  Surrounding the Pokemon Center is the roller coaster, featuring steep drops, sharp turns, dips into trenches below the ground surface, and even a hop over the attraction entrance.

Once guests queue for the coaster, they are inside the reception area of the Pokemon Center.  Here they see a check-in desk, a bulletin board with gym flyers and tournament schedules, a rec area with couch and television, and Pokeball scanning kiosks.  After meandering through this reception area, guests walk down a long hallway of patient rooms.  Some of the rooms are empty, but most feature an animatronic Pokemon waiting for the doctor.  Some of the more mild-mannered Pokemon wait patiently, while others are irritable. 

After passing many of these rooms, guests round a large patient room, where we see an animatronic Pikachu sitting on the table, swinging its legs waiting patiently for the doctor.  Behind Pikachu through a window, we can see the silhouette of Ash and Nurse Joy discussing Pikachu’s condition.  Apparently, Pikachu has a nasty fever, and must be given a shot.  They keep their voices down and prepare the syringe and needle in secrecy.

Snippet of pre-show dialogue:

            NURSE JOY: “Yes, it seems that Pikachu has a mild fever.  It’s a good thing you brought him here to the Pokemon Center or the fever would have gotten worse on your way to the gym.”

            ASH: “So what is it going to take to heal Pikachu’s fever?”

            NURSE JOY: “Oh, not much.  I just need to prepare a remedy.  All it takes is a quick sho—, well, an S-H-O-T…”

            PIKACHU: “Pika?”

            NURSE JOY: “…and Pikachu will be good as new!”

            ASH: “Is it going to hurt him?”

            NURSE JOY: “Oh, not at all.  Pikachu is so small yet so strong for his size that a little, erm, you-know-what will be harmless.”

            ASH: “Oh, that’s great news.  I know he can’t wait to get feeling better.”

            NURSE JOY: “I’ll say.  I’ve seen Pokemon fight in tournaments with a lower temperature than Pikachu is running, and it did not go well.  Bringing Pikachu here was a very responsible thing to do.”

            ASH: “Well, I care about Pikachu a lot.”

            NURSE JOY: “I can tell.  Pikachu seems very attached to you.”

            ASH: “We’re best friends.  We look out for each other (Ash’s silhouette seems to turn and look out towards Pikachu).”

            (Pikachu sneezes)

            NURSE JOY: “It’s nice to see a trainer and his Pokemon that have such a strong bond of friendship.  I see a lot of trainers that do not care for their Pokemon as much as they should.”

            ASH: “I could never take Pikachu for granted.”

            NURSE JOY: “Pikachu’s going to feel a lot better soon.”

            ASH: “So he’s really going to be okay?”

            (Dialogue loops)

In the loading station, we see a long coaster train that is reminiscent of Pikachu, with a lead car looking similar to Pikachu’s head, and a rear car with a zigzagging Pikachu tail coming out behind it.  Before dispatching, we can hear Ash say, “Alright, Pikachu.  Hold still.”  Nurse Joy follows by saying “This won’t hurt a bit.”  Then the train takes off around a corner and up the lift hill.  Ash shouts “Pikachu!  Come down from there!”  The train reaches the top and dives, spirals, and zips in a thrilling journey.  The train hops over the attraction entrance, swoops into a trench, and rounds several corners before returning to the brake run, where we hear Ash ask, “See?  That wasn’t so bad, was it?” to which Pikachu responds “Pika!” cheerfully.

Pokemon Village has another attraction with a starring Pokemon, in Squirtle’s Surf ‘n Splash (Zamperla Surf’s Up/Rockin’ Tug/Disko redesign).  Here, riders ride on a giant surfboard and ride waves while possibly getting wet with several water elements.  The ride vehicle is quite similar to the Zamperla Surf’s Up design, but will implement seats that face outward like Zamperla’s Disko model to allow younger riders to enjoy the ride, culminating in an experience similar to Zamperla’s Rockin’ Tug model.

Guests enter past the large rock entrance sign and onto a dock queue in the middle of a small lagoon.  The queue circles around a large rock with an animatronic Squirtle along with some other water Pokemon.  After navigating the queue, guests come to the boathouse loading zone, where they board the surfboard.  The ride glides along the ramps and hill back and forth, while the entire surfboard rotates.  To enhance the experience, geysers and a large waterfall from a nearby island get riders slightly wet while riding.

Psychic Cyclone (Zamperla Demolition Derby) features the characters of Team Rocket.  Guests are tricked by Team Rocket into visiting the Pokemon Village Relaxation Center.  The building shows sinister objects covered with tarps and instead guests see comfortable chairs and signs that point towards spas.  Team Rocket shows up on the in-queue television monitors, disguised as the center’s owners.

Queue Monitor Script:

            JAMES: “Welcome to the Pokemon Village Relaxation Center.  I am Derek…”

            JESSIE: “…and I am Helga…”

            JAMES AND JESSIE: “…and we are here to help you ease your body and mind in the most relaxing place anywhere.”

            JESSIE: “We know that walking around theme parks all day can be tiring.  I bet your feet hurt terribly.  Here, our caring staff is eager to massage your feet and make you feel worry-free and ready for more fun (cuts to footage of a disguised Meowth rubbing someone’s feet reluctantly).”

            JAMES: “Thirsty?  Our mineral water reservoir contains the purest, most refreshing water found anywhere.  A tall glass of this water will rejuvenate you and get you back on your feet in no time.”

            JESSIE: “Here at the Relaxation Center we have the most comfortable chairs ever.  The foam in our state-of-the-art relaxation chairs contours perfectly to the person sitting in them, eliminating pressure points and giving the most enjoyable nap that can be had.”

            JAMES: “But at the Relaxation Center, we’re not just about ease of body, but also ease of mind.  We have pod environments where our guests are surrounded by peaceful sights and sounds, which makes stress and worry simply drift away…”

            JESSIE: “…which brings us to our latest creation.  Theme parks are often especially exhausting to tourists, which lead us to research what the most relaxing environment imaginable would be, and the development of…”

JAMES AND JESSIE: “…The Hyper-Relaxation Module!”

JAMES: “It’s captivating.  It’s cooled.  It’s comfortable.  All of our Hyper-Relaxation Modules are equipped with everything we have said before, and more.”

JESSIE: “All Hyper-Relaxation Modules are stationed around another innovation of ours, the Comfort-o-Tron, a series of massive screens showing peaceful rivers and golden fields, putting your mind to ease while resting the rest of you.  Now here’s Omar to tell us about how to begin our relaxation experience.”

MEOWTH: “Alright, you guys.  When the gates open, please walk slowly and carefully onto the relaxation platform.  Once you have been directed by our staff, peacefully enter the Hyper-Relaxation Modules and gently lower your harness…of relaxation.  Two per row please, four per module.  Once all of our guests are situated, we will begin the relaxation experience.  We hope you enjoy your stay with us! (short pause, followed by whisper) Do you think they bought i—?”

Once guests enter the Hyper-Relaxation Module and all checks are performed, James and Jesse appear on the Comfort-o-Tron.

            JESSIE: “It looks like everyone is situated.”

            JAMES: “Good, this is quite to be quite enjoyable.”

            MEOWTH: “Yeah, for us!  Now where are they hiding that Pikachu?””

            JAMES: “We know you have Pikachu!  Where is your Pikachu?”

            JESSIE: “Oh!  There it is! (she points)

            JAMES: “Where?”

            JESSIE: “Oh, nevermind.  It’s just a small child with a yellow shirt.”

            JAMES: “Ugh, fine.  If you won’t talk, we’ll make you talk, you little twerps!  Meowth, prepare the chambers!  Prepare the modules!”

            JESSIE: “Prepare for trouble.”

            JAMES: “Make it double.”

            JESSIE: “You thought you were here for relaxation.”

            JAMES: “Then you ignored our interrogation.”

            JESSIE: “So now prepare to feel our wrath.”

            JAMES: “You’re all strapped in, you do the math.”

            JESSIE: “To show the world our persuasive powers.”

            JAMES: “To collect what is rightfully ours.”

            JESSIE: “Jessie!”

            JAMES: “James!”

            JESSIE AND JAMES: “Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light.  Surrender now, or prepare for fight!”

            MEOWTH: “Meowth, that’s right!”

Out of several chambers, fog emerges followed by several Team Rocket psychic Pokemon.            

            JAMES AND JESSIE: “Confusion!”

Suddenly, the Hyper-Relaxation Modules begin spinning around and around, weaving between each other.  All around the platform are Team Rocket’s Pokemon sending riders in circles around the platform.  After a few minutes of chaotic whirling, the modules slow down.  The trio returns on the monitors.

            JESSIE: “Fine, have it your way.”

            JAMES: “We’ll get your Pikachu yet!”

            MEOWTH: “Scram, twerps!”

One final attraction, Pokemon Fields (Custom Walkthrough Attraction), features a zoo-like experience for guests to discover many other Pokemon creatures.  It seemed that no matter what rides or other entertainment was added, guests would visit Pokemon Village simply to see the creatures that they have so long loved.  It seemed a great fit that an authentic attraction that really showcased the Pokemon themselves was necessary.

Of course, unlike a zoo, Pokemon in the anime, games, etc. are nearly always roaming freely, so instead of exhibits featuring one specific species of Pokemon, they are really seemingly roaming freely around the attraction.  Of course, Pokemon of similar type are found together based on the natural locale, but different species mingle with one another.

The attraction is mostly built as a walkthrough of a non-confined reserve, something of a safari.  Guests begin by entering the PokeTours Welcome Center, a base station for the touring route.  Here, guests can learn all about the Pokemon they may see throughout the attraction.  All tours are self-guided, allowing guests to spend as much time as they please focusing on each Pokemon.

Guests begin by exiting left out of the PokeTours Welcome Center and through a quaint path with planters on the way to the start of the tour.  Guests cross a bridge and begin with a wooded area.  Here we see such recognizable creatures as Charmander, Diglet/Dugtrio, etc.  The path through the wooded area is reminiscent of the paths that the Pokemon characters are often seen walking on to travel from city to city.  Likewise, the Pokemon encountered here would be exactly like those found when the characters travel.

When guests emerge from the woods, they encounter a large mountain.  In a clearing, they see many more Pokemon.  The area is less densely populated than the woods, however, there is still plenty to see.  Guests can see Snorlax taking a nap lying on his back under a hanging rock.  With every snore, Snorlax’s chest inflates and deflates.  Jolteon is seen perched proudly on a rock nearby, though in a shadow, and through the use of fiber optics, Jolteon’s fur seems to be charged with electricity.

Guests then enter a cave in the mountain and see some of the more mysterious and scary characters from Pokemon.  Here, a few Zubats are hanging upside-down.  Koffing is hiding in a corner.  Rattata crawls through some cave openings while Grimer is gleaming and mucky in the dim light of the cave.

After emerging from the cave, guests find that the bridge to return to the Welcome Center is out, and they must use another way around the river.  A sign on the bridge says to use the neighboring alternate path, which circles around.  The path takes guests by a cave, where Charizard is standing tall.  Guests continue and find the bridge, where a nearby Blastoise is perched on a rock in the river.  This area is where guests can see the beastly Pokemon that they’ve been waiting to see, in a simulated less-than-public area.

The path later reconnects with the other end of the bridge and guests enter the only confined area of the tour.  This is the Aviary, where newborn Pokemon are cared for in the first weeks of their lives, when they grow too large for the nearby Nursery, mentioned in the attraction.  Here, several smaller flying Pokemon can be seen, such as Butterfree and Spearow.  The path then reconnects to the Welcome Center.

No theme park section is complete without some eateries.  Pokemon Village, by its nature of being catered more towards younger guests, features traditional theme park cuisine.  Guests looking for counter service dining should visit Professor Oak’s Diner or for a quick bite, try PokeTreats or Stadium Snacks.

It is necessary to determine which Pokemon need to be represented in Pokemon Village, since designing 500 animatronics would be a tough task, not to mention costly.  There will certainly be Pokemon missing from the area that guests wish to see, but it will likely be forgiven if the most popular characters are added.  Luckily, the characters that are represented can vary at any time, and the environments in Pokemon Village can provide any Pokemon with a welcoming home.

Planned Pokemon Animatronics (represented characters may change depending on several factors):

            Pika-Chu-Chu Train: Bulbasaur, Pikachu, Vulpix, Jigglypuff, Eevee, Chimchar, Cyndaquil, Ralts

            Pokemon Fields: Charmander, Ekans, Diglet/Digtrio, Lickitung, Scyther, Zubat, Koffing, Grimer, Rattata, Jolteon, Snorlax, Charizard, Blastoise, Gyrados, Celebi, Lugia, Togepi, Absol, Turtwig, Bidoof, Girafarig, Butterfree, Spearow

            Squirtle’s Surf ‘n Splash: Squirtle, Staryu, Magikarp, Piplup, Marill, Mudkip,

            Psychic Cyclone: Psyduck, Poliwhirl, Abra, Drowzee, Wobbuffet

This was a really fun part of designing Versus.  It’s the first “children’s area” I’ve ever designed, and it was interesting to design an area that catered more heavily to a younger demographic, instead of just designing the best white-knuckle ride I could imagine.  And speaking of white-knuckle rides, the next land for Versus will be Heavy Artillery, featuring the most action-packed adventures in the park.  Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!  For questions or comments, I can be contacted at

Project 2 (Part 2 of 5): Versus Theme Park - Arcadia

The next area of the park is Arcadia.  Arcadia is themed to the popular arcade games of the past. The entire area has a Coney Island type of architecture and feel to it. Incidentally, the land themed to retro-style games uses older attraction technologies to tell the stories.  The entry area for Arcadia is constructed of large Tetris blocks. This entryway sets the transition from the other lands of the park to Arcadia.  Arcadia is where every generation can enjoy attractions together.  Every attraction in the area is designed to unite generations together, as well as show younger generations what video games were like in yesteryear.

Among the tallest attractions in the park is Space Invaders (Intamin Parachute Ride), a Coney Island-style parachute ride.  Of course, the attraction is based on the popular arcade game.  The technology for parachute-type rides like Coney Island’s Parachute Jump would need to be reimagined.  The entrance to the ride is grandiose and bright with flashing lights, despite the familiar logo sign.  In the attraction’s queue, guests are transported to a space station.  Outside the windows, guests can either see the ride in motion or view simulated aliens attacking outside of the windows.  Each individual parachute is modeled after one of the aliens from the game.  The base of the tower is modeled to resemble the human spaceship, while the top of the tower is modeled to look like the alien mothership.  Throughout the ride profile, rectangular LED panels produce a light array that depicts the human spaceship shooting up at the invaders and the mothership.  Of course, riders of the attraction hear the familiar sounds of the game during the ride.

Pac-Man (Custom Hedge Maze) is the realized representation of the popular game, in the form of a large hedge maze.  America’s theme parks are lacking these types of attractions.  This is likely due to the fact that guests walk through the attraction after walking all day long.  Regardless, Pac-Man puts guests in the maze game with the “Man” himself.  Guests enter the maze through a decorative entrance, designed to subtly resemble an arcade cabinet.  This representation is much like inserting guests directly in the game of Pac-Man.  All of the sounds of the game are played throughout the attraction.  Guests must visit each of the ghosts (Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde) before exiting.  These ghosts are actually the checkpoints, so guests know they are walking the correct path.

Near Pac-Man is the most popular restaurant in Arcadia, the 8-Bit Café.  This has the feel of a 1950’s diner while being absolutely filled with memorabilia of the classic games of the arcade.  Basically, everything that was not represented by a ride in Arcadia can be found here.

Another restaurant in Arcadia is modeled to represent the popular Legend of Zelda games.  Hyrule Hall is set inside Hyrule Castle.  Guests have the opportunity to eat inside the castle and admire the relics of the dining hall.  Hyrule Hall is a standard counter service restaurant.

The largest attraction in the area is Donkey Kong (Gravity Group Wooden Coaster).  Another type of attraction that is missing from theme parks, especially in Orlando, is the wooden roller coaster.  The façade for the attraction is large and extravagant, quite reminiscent of the most popular rides from the days of Coney Island.  A massive arch stretches all the way across the façade, showing the interior, including parts of the queue and a section of the roller coaster that flies past guests as they enter.

The part of the queue that is visible from the outside appears to be the jungle.  While meandering through this jungle section, from time to time a train of riders will scream through the treetops.  After walking this section, the queue transitions into a cave.  As we walk a little way, we find ourselves in Donkey Kong’s treehouse.  DK’s boombox proclaims that King K. Rool has stolen all of the golden bananas from the jungle.  As we descend down swinging bridges, we see the metallic, gloomy entrance of King K. Rool’s lair.  In the lair, clumsy animatronic henchmen are guarding the golden bananas.  As we exit the lair, we get to the coaster station, which is Funky Kong’s Rocket Shop.  All around the hut are blueprints for the “Rocket Barrel”, a crudely-constructed wooden vehicle (the coaster train) which will take us all around the jungle getting back the golden bananas.

The attraction does begin with a dark ride portion back in King K. Rool’s lair.  King K. Rool boasts about stealing the golden bananas, and explains that Donkey Kong has no chance of outwitting his guards, at which point guests see the guards.  One of the guards hiccups, and the other is asleep.  As we are leaving the lair, the King scolds the guards and commands them to seize us.  We make it out of the lair, somewhat narrowly, and “rocket” our way up the lift hill, using an advanced cable lift system.  We then speed through the jungle with several airtime hills, underground tunnels, and a few 90-degree turns.  When riders come to the final brake run, we see Donkey Kong lying on a bed of bananas, very happy.

All of Arcadia is designed to be a new vision for the revered past.  It is filled with new elements of classic games, using new technologies for old attractions.  In the next update, we’ll see Pokemon Village, a children’s area themed to the popular characters of Pokemon.

Project 2 (Part 1 of 5): Versus Theme Park

Around the turn of the decade, rumors about a new theme park really began to fly.  Disney’s fifth resort park has been rumored for many years now, and rumors about Universal’s third park are now being discussed.  There are even talks about what is next for the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment parks in Central Florida.  These are not entirely empty rumors; in the timeline of events, Orlando may be overdue for a new park from one of the big names.

                  1971 – Disney’s Magic Kingdom opens

                  1982 – Disney’s Epcot opens

                  1989 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens (as Disney’s MGM Studios)

                  1990 – Universal Studios Florida opens

                  1998 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens

                  1999 – Universal’s Islands of Adventure opens

                  Of course, in addition to the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, there are Sea World Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and the upcoming Legoland Florida.  The timeline is only to illustrate how the theme park resorts are a bit overdue.

                  As seen by the timeline, this is the longest time Disney has gone without unveiling a new theme park.  Also, Universal is overdue for a new park as well.  Disney, with the immense size of their property, has plenty of land to expand to a fifth theme park.  Universal is more landlocked, but they do have a plot of land just south of Islands of Adventure.  If the size of the land is not sufficient, the property can be linked to a large neighboring plot of land via a transportation service reminiscent of Disney’s monorail system.

                  Please note that this is all based on the timeline alone.  I am not suggesting that either resort needs to design and build a theme park at this time.  Of course, we are currently in a recession and the tourism is one of the most vulnerable industries to the world market. 

However, surprisingly the theme parks have managed to rise above this setback.  Theme park fans have been and continue to be rewarded for visiting the area theme parks.  Sea World introduced Manta and Universal Studios unveiled Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit in 2009.  In 2010, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened up at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.  Legoland Florida is set to open in 2011, and the Fantasyland Expansion at Disney’s Magic Kingdom is scheduled for a 2012 opening.

That said, it is still fun to speculate what the next theme park will be when it is revealed.  I have decided to design what I believe will be next for Universal Orlando.  To determine what is next for Universal Orlando, it is necessary to evaluate what Universal has already done.

Universal’s first park, Universal Studios Florida, has a clear unified theme.  The park is focused mostly on productions, hence the name Universal Studios.  Many of the attractions are focused on movies, such as E.T., Twister, The Mummy, Jaws, and Men in Black.  Some attractions focus on television shows, like The Simpsons, Jimmy Neutron, and Fear Factor.  There are some attractions that focus on movie making, like Disaster and the Horror Make-Up Show.  Universal’s newest attraction, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, focuses on the music industry, while maintaining a rough storyline of shooting a music video.  All of these attractions come together to a unified theme of video production, whether on the television screen or the silver screen.

Islands of Adventure’s overall park theme is significantly more difficult to define.  The mystic and adventurous theme of the park is heavily built upon telling stories, especially legends and folklore.  The individual sections of the park are no different.  Marvel Superhero Island is based on the popular Marvel comic books.  Toon Lagoon is based on popular cartoon characters, primarily those of older cartoons and comic strips.  Jurassic Park, as the island, would seem to fit better in the Studios with the movie theme, but the movie, after all, was based on a book.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is, of course, based on the unbelievably popular book series by J.K. Rowling.  Lost Continent is based on legends and popular tales told throughout the ages.  Finally, Seuss Landing is based on the popular children’s books by Dr. Seuss.

So Universal Studios is based on movies and television shows, and Islands of Adventure is based on books, comics, and other methods of storytelling.  Universal’s third park would have to be based on a popular storytelling medium highly embedded in pop culture.  Music is ruled out for three reasons: 1) Music does not have the storytelling capabilities that could translate in the theme park environment, 2) Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is already an attraction based on music, so most attractions at a music-based theme park would likely fit with it at the Studios, and 3) Freestyle Music Park (formerly Hard Rock Park) lived a short life just a few hundred miles away.  The only other conventional mass medium this leaves is the Internet, but most stories on the Internet should probably stay on the Internet.

There is one medium that has strong storytelling, brings people together, and bridges generations.  Games do a bar-none job of uniting people in one place to (hopefully) enjoy each other’s company.  Since the heyday of arcades, video games have had a great effect on people, almost to the point of becoming another part of our lives.  Even before that, board games united families and friends to spend time, sometimes hours, with each other.  Games just have a magical ability to unite people.

More recently, video games are required to have dynamic, captivating storylines.  As Pong evolved into Pac-Man evolved into Mario, the evolution of video games demanded stories.  Today, a near movie-quality attention to detail is put into almost every video game.

How would this translate into the theme park environment?  The storytelling of video games has been begging to be represented by theme park attractions for some time now.  Attractions based on video games would mean more interactivity with attractions than ever before.  Plus, it would be a great opportunity for parents to show their children the types of games they played as kids, as well as children showing their parents what they play today.

With this said, I present to you Universal’s Versus Theme Park, a place where gamers as well as non-gamers can be surrounded by the stories they’ve known for decades.  Universal’s Versus is composed of five distinct lands: Boardgame Boardwalk, where guests can visit life-size models of their favorite board and card games, such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, and Clue.  In Arcadia, guests can visit their favorite video games of the past, such as Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong.  In Pokémon Village, guests and especially children can visit their favorite little and large creatures.  In Heavy Artillery, guests can experience their favorite shooter games, including Halo, BioShock, and Portal.  Finally, in Mushroom Kingdom, guests can visit Mario’s world and live out adventures with him.  Each of these lands encompass three mini-lands; large themed areas surrounding attractions to create the atmospheres of the central attractions.

Universal’s Versus, or simply Versus, would need to somehow be connected to CityWalk as the other two theme parks are.  CityWalk acts as an entertainment hub between the two theme parks and the existing parking garages.  Instead of linking Versus to CityWalk using one of the covered walkways that are currently used, some sort of transportation would be necessary to link the two.  This would be done by constructing a personal transit system, with one station between the theatres and valet parking, and the other at the Versus Plaza.  Of course, with the added numbers of park visitors, Versus would need its own parking garage, which would be placed on property at Versus but out of view from within the park.

The icon of the park, much like Universal’s globe and Islands of Adventure’s lighthouse, would be a giant joystick.  The joystick would stand about twenty-five feet tall and be a symbol of interactivity, togetherness, excitement, and fun.  As the entry area of the park is Boardgame Boardwalk, the area around the entrance has a tropical, beachside setting.  This is the one section of the park that is not dedicated to video games, but rather Boardgame Boardwalk is themed to all the board games that have brought people together for generations.  The entry gates’ roof is supported by life-size chess pieces.  Down the boardwalk, there is an atmosphere reminiscent of midway games, but instead of midway games, board game pieces are all around.  Here is a list of shops and restaurants in the area.

Park Place is the park’s largest merchandise store, selling a broad range of merchandise, from clothing to mugs to knick-knacks.  Based on the popular board game Monopoly, the interior of Park Place has many familiar references to the game.  The aisles of the store look like roads named after roads from the game, such as Pennsylvania Avenue.  Railroads cars, such as the cars of the Reading Railroad, hold large amounts of merchandise, as well as the Community Chest.

The other store in Boardgame Boardwalk is the Toy Store, which has a more specific specialty of selling toy and games merchandise.  Outside, two Rock’m Sock’m Robots hold up the roof of the entrance in a manner much like Atlas.  Much of the interior is constructed with toys, with Tinker Toy trusses and specialty sections made of K’nex and Lincoln Logs.

Boardgame Boardwalk has two counter service restaurants.  The first is Hungry Hungry Hippos, where guests can feast like a hippo.  Hungry Hungry Hippos provides typical burgers-and-fries fare.  In an added twist, the different kinds of burgers served are named after a menagerie of animals, such as the Elephant Burger, the Pink Pig Burger, and of course, the Hippo Burger.  The other counter service restaurant is 54 Card Pick-Me-Up.  54 Card Pick-Me-Up appears to be a card house.  The entire façade as well as the line dividers are completely constructed of giant playing cards.  The menus in the back are even made of Trivial Pursuit cards.  54 Card Pick-Me-Up provides a variety of foods.

In addition to the other two restaurants, there is also one full-service restaurant in Boardgame Boardwalk.  Clue is styled after an English countryside mansion.  Inside the restaurant, guests can eat in one of several of the most popular rooms from the board game, including the conservatory, the study, and the billiard room.  A few times every hour, lightning flashes, the lights dim, and guests hear the sound of one of the partygoers being murdered by a random weapon sound (gunshot, blunt sound of a candleholder, tension of a rope, etc) followed by a scream.  Clue’s menu is quite varied as the food is more upscale than the rest of the park.  

In the next part of the project, we’ll see Arcadia, a land dedicated to the games of yesteryear.

Project 1: The Office Experience

            A few months ago, I asked friends and family to suggest to me one of two challenges: either give me a ride system and I will add a story and theming to it, or suggest a basic theme and I will add a system and a storyline to it.  After a few suggestions, a close friend asked me to base an attraction on NBC’s popular television show The Office.  My friend and I are both huge fans of the show, so I agreed.

            Taking this challenge ended up being more difficult than I imagined.  To all who have never seen an episode of The Office, it must be the most realistic fictional television show ever made.  The ability of the set designers and post-production crew to turn a soundstage in Van Nuys into an office complex in Scranton, as well as the ability of the writers to create a mockumentary about life in an office and it be one of the most watched shows on television, truly speaks volumes on their talents.  Translating that into the theme park environment would not be easy.

            That said, it was time to scope out a location.  It made perfect sense to place this experience in a Universal Studios park, since the theme parks are half owned by NBC Universal.  One of the American parks would be best, since The Office is, after all, an American television show and the attraction may not translate well in other countries.  And since Van Nuys is literally less than ten miles from Universal Studios Hollywood, bringing The Office to Florida made the most sense.

            Within Universal Studios Florida, there are six lands: Production Central, New York, Hollywood, San Francisco/Amity, World Expo, and KidZone.  In the Production Central area of the park, there is the unused Soundstage 44.  This building used to house the Murder, She Wrote Mystery Theatre, followed by Hercules and Xena: Wizards of the Screen.  The soundstage takes up a large footprint of land in Production Central, and seemed like a prime location for this experience.


            Designing the façade to the experience was easy.  The attraction would be housed in a replica of the Dunder Mifflin office building.  To make the experience as authentic as possible, the moment we enter The Office Experience we are convinced we have set foot into the real Dunder Mifflin building.

            The Office Experienceis, at its core, a dark ride.  To those unfamiliar with theme park vernacular, a dark ride is almost exactly what it sounds like.  Any ride that is housed inside a dark building and uses a track-based system to usher riders from scene to scene and tells a story is, in essence, a dark ride.  In The Office Experience, guests board crudely constructed “forklift” vehicles and sit in office chairs (later explained in pre-show), and are ushered through scenes in the Dunder Mifflin warehouse and are told a story that provokes multiple emotions.

However, it seemed fit to add a bit more to this attraction.  Beyond just being told a story in this attraction, any fan of The Office would demand one thing in the experience: they want to explore Dunder Mifflin.  In The Office Experience, their wish is granted.

            Guests begin their experience in the foyer of the Dunder Mifflin office building.  There they can see the couch oft used by the employees, a narrower version of Hank’s desk (a constraint that often happens when translating the world on the screen to the theme park world), and a directory that shows where the Dunder Mifflin offices are.

            We then continue behind Hank’s desk and into the Welcome room.  The Welcome room is the first of four renovated office spaces spruced up by the Creative Development Committee (also explained in the pre-show).  In the Welcome room, we see monitors showing videos such as Lazy Scranton and Michael’s local ad.

            Continuing to the next room is the Romance room.  This room is dedicated to all of the relationships past and present at Dunder Mifflin.  The monitors in this room show scenes of Jim and Pam, Dwight and Angela, Michael and Holly, etc.  The room is decorated with well-known items like the famous Dwight bobblehead, Jim’s wedding tie, and pictures of baby Cecelia.

            The next room is the Pranks room.  The monitors in this room show a montage of clips of the best pranks between Jim and Dwight, as well as others.  The room is decorated with the Gaydar, Dwight’s “Security Threat” ID badge, and of course, a stapler inside a Jell-O mold.  In the ceiling, we can faintly hear Andy’s “Rockin’ Robin” ringtone.

            The last room is the Life in the Office room.  The monitors in this room show a best-of reel from past episodes, as well as a “That’s What She Said” montage.  The room includes a display case of Dundie awards, yogurt lid medals, a Fun Run shirt, and various other memorabilia.

            Leaving the last room, guests enter the long hall that leads back to the foyer.  A little way down the hallway, we see a tucked-away closet between two bathrooms, a nod at the former Michael Scott Paper Company.

            Returning to the foyer, guests approach the staircase that will lead to the Dunder Mifflin offices.  Beside the staircase is the elevator that handicapped guests may use.  Handicapped guests may also use the attraction exit to experience the ride portion of the attraction, but many handicapped guests may want to enter the Dunder Mifflin offices as well. 

            In an interesting discovery, the elevator shaft in the lower and upper floors does not meet exactly in the show.  If the viewer pays close attention, the lobby foyer is significantly deeper than the second floor foyer.  Since the show is filmed on a soundstage instead of an office building, the casual viewer would only realize this if they made a model of the building.  The decision was made to make a prop elevator instead of an artificial wall, since the wall has windows to the outside.  So the real wall gives guests a view from the second floor of the building to the streets of Universal Studios, and handicapped guests enter the second floor foyer from a hidden elevator, which is behind the prop elevator.

            From here, guests enter Dunder Mifflin.  They walk through the front door and straight to reception.  They then walk past reception towards accounting, then through the desks, weaving between Dwight and Phyllis’ desks towards the conference room, then around Andy’s desk to the kitchen.

            You can see here that the bullpen, along with the kitchen and annex seen later, is stretched a bit.  For example, you may notice the extra five feet of empty space between Michael’s office and the conference room.  This was one of the crutches of translating The Office into the theme park world.  If the Dunder Mifflin offices here were built realistically (i.e. smaller), then that would mean a smaller ride layout on the lower level.  This works well though, because this also gives the handicapped guests more freedom of movement when maneuvering through the bullpen.

            Guests enter the kitchen and can see all the flyers and signs they have seen on the show, like the “This Man Is A Pervert!” flyer.  Curious guests will find that the bathrooms will not open, but they can see the America’s Got Talent mugs in one propped-open cabinet, and various recognizable goodies in the refrigerator, like mixed berry yogurt, Hooters-To-Go, and frozen cheesy pitas.

            Guests then enter the annex and enter the break room.  The break room has the vending machines from the show, but the tables and chairs are moved out of the way for standing room.  There is a TV perched atop a wheeled cart.  This is where we are shown the pre-show video.

Pre-show script

[Scene 1] - Conference Room

            Michael: “And, we are going to be hosting an open house in the warehouse.  It’s a little get-together with some new…emerging…”enterprisees”.  So first of all, we’re going to need some food, I’m thinking Hooters.”

            Kevin: “Yes!”

            Angela: “Absolutely not.”

            Michael: “Absolutely indeed.  We’ll have booths from every department, so Sales, Accounting, and everybody else, I want to see the most engaging Powerpoint presentations ever created within the last fifty years. 

            *groaning faces all around*

            Michael: “Plus I’ve sent Jimmy Fallon about twenty-five Facebook event requests, he might be doing some stand-up for us.”

            Jim: “Slim chance.”

            Michael: “Fat chance!…So let’s get to work.”

[Scene 2] - The Bullpen

            *views of collaborating office workers*

            Michael, breaking the relative silence: “Stop what you’re doing!  Dwight!” *motions to enter office*

[Scene 3] - Conference Room (TH)

            Pam with Jim: “Michael turned this open house into a tour of the history of Dunder Mifflin, or something, we don’t really know.”

            Jim with Pam: “Our warehouse is going to be filled with representatives from new business startups, and Michael is going to load them on pushcarts and show them…something.  We’re still deciding whether Michael watched Willy Wonka or Jurassic Park last night.”

[Scene 4] - The Bullpen

            Michael: “How much would it cost to make the people feel like they’re flying?”

            Creed: “Three hundred a kilo.”

            Toby: “I don’t think it’s very safe or advisable to spin potential customers around in a small warehouse.”

            Michael: *heavily childish and exaggerated showing of attitude* “First of all, we’re using the pushcarts and this is to show all the visitors what we’re all about and everyone loves tours and second of all, they’re…”

            *long pause*

            Darryl: “Y’all are just using the pushcarts, right?”

            Michael: “Yes.”

            Darryl: “And you’re going to push them real slow, right?”

            Michael: “Yes.”

[Scene 5] - Conference Room (TH)

            Darryl: “I asked Michael countless times to explain exactly what he planned on doing.  Pushing potential customers around our warehouse on pushcarts and showing them some kind of show or tour.  Ordinarily I would just tell him ‘no’, but my daughter has a recital tonight and I can’t be here to supervise.  There’s no telling what he would do if I just told him ‘no’.  In my experience I’ve learned that giving Michael minimal allowances is less of a liability.”

[Scene 6] - Michael’s Office

            Dwight (barging in): “No pushcarts.”

            Michael: “What?”

            Dwight: “Forklifts are better, faster.  Plus I can operate them by remote control.”

[Scene 7] - Conference Room (TH)

            Dwight: “A few months ago I hired a mechanic to make my tractors function by remote control.  It was great since I’m at work all day and Mose doesn’t do too much.  It turned out pretty well, except I could only fully operate one tractor at a time, and the receiver only had a range of about 150 feet, and one tractor ran into the side of the barn and wouldn’t stop driving for three hours…but it was a fun little project.”

[Return to Scene 6]

            Dwight: “We could use the system on the forklifts and since we just need to steer them, you and I could control one or maybe two forklifts each at a time.  It’d be perfect.”

            Michael: *extremely approving face* “Do it.”

            Dwight: “I’m on it.” (leaves office)

            Michael (turning to camera) “Mr. Scott’s Wild Ride.”

[Scene 8] - Sales

            Andy: “What do you guys need me to do?”

            Phyllis: “I think we have everything covered.”

            Andy: “Really?”

            Jim: “Yeah, Pam and Phyllis are covering decorations, and Stanley and I are working on the presentation.”

            Andy (revealing guitar): “I was thinking I could cover the theme music…

                        (to the tune of it’s a small world)

                        It’s a world of printers

                        A world of ink

                        It’s a world of paper

                        And we all think

                        Our service can’t be beat

                        Other stores can’t compete

                        It’s a Sales world after all”

            Jim: “Maybe.  We’ll see.  I think Angela was looking for some help though.”

[Scene 9] - Accounting

            Andy joins Kevin, looking at a busy Angela, Oscar and Meredith.

            Andy: “Do you guys need any help over here?”

            Kevin: “I wouldn’t know.  They don’t want me to participate.”

            Andy: “Why not?”

            Kevin: “I don’t know.  Angela told me but all I heard was “Meow meow, meow meow, I’m a control freak, meow. (giggles)  But seriously, she was meaner than that.”

            *Angela gives a stern look*

            Kevin: “Even Meredith gets to help, and she’s not even an accountant.”

            Creed: “It’s not fair, man.”

            Kevin: “What?  They’re not letting you work either?”

            Creed: “They never have.  We have to do something about it.”

            Andy: “Like what?”

            Creed: “An old-fashioned prank.  My sources tell me Dwight is using forklifts now and plans on using remote control to steer them.  All we have to do is jam the frequency and then we control them.”

            Kevin: “Nice.”

            Kevin and Andy pound it.

            Creed (giving remote): “Here you go.”

            Andy: “Where’d you get this?”

            Creed: “I’ve had it a while.”

[Scene 10] - Creative Design Committee

            Kelly: “Ryan, Erin, and I formed the Creative Development Committee.  It basically means we get to do decorations.  We’re going to make the warehouse look so pretty.”

            Ryan: “The Creative Development Committee gives life and meaning to the tour.  Anyone can put little props around and decorate a room, but it takes creativity and originality to truly bring the experience to life and evoke a story from the mundane.  You can’t just go from point A to point B to point C, life doesn’t work with that.  The tour will dive deep into the hidden world and show the key attributes of typical life in an office.”

            Kelly: “Streamers.”

            Erin: “Check.”

            Kelly: “Awesome music.”

            Erin: “Check.”

            Kelly: “Props.”

            Erin: “Check.”

            Kelly: “Awesome people.”

            Erin: “Check.  Right?”

[Scene 11] - Break Room

            Oscar: “I would say I can’t believe he thinks this is a good idea, but I believe it.”

            Meredith: “Look at it this way: it’s just a minor setback.  I mean, the tour will only take a few minutes, right?  You can talk to them the rest of the time.  Plus, free food.”

            Jim: “I guess at the very least it will be memorable.”

            Pam: “Definitely.  If businesses spent the time to push me through a tour of their companies, I’d spend the extra dollar.”

            Oscar: “It’s original enough, it just doesn’t seem very professional.”

            Jim: “I went down there about an hour ago and I think there were lapbars and walkie talkies for narration.  It’s very professional.”

            *chuckles followed by brief silence*

            Meredith: “It’s about time to head down.”

            *All in agreement, the four leave the room*

[Scene 12] - Hallway (on the way to the warehouse)

            *Jim’s phone rings*

            Jim: “Hey man, what’s up?”

            Darryl: “Hey, I left my house keys downstairs.  You think you could leave the side entrance open and I’ll sneak into the party real quick?”

            Jim: “Yeah, I can do that.”

            Darryl: “Alright, cool.  I’ll be there in a little bit.”

            Jim: “Sounds good, man.  Talk to you later.”

            *Hangs up*

            Jim (to Pam): “Darryl left his keys downstairs.”

[Scene 13] - Michael’s Office

            Dwight: “All set?”

            Michael: “Yes, everything is in place.  The ride scenes are all set up.  I have the smoke machine and the water guns, the remote controls.”

            Dwight: “We’re missing one.”

            Michael: “I probably left it downstairs.  All that’s left to do is greet our guests.”

[Scene 14] - Michael’s Office (TH)

            Michael: “Welcome all to the World of Dunder Mifflin.  This World has many lands for you to discover, and I hope you will join us on this adventure.  And just like our world is full of trees, the World of Dunder Mifflin is full of paper, which comes from trees.  When you are seated, please pull your lapbar down and secure all your loose articles in the pouch under your seat.  Keep your hands and arms and other ‘appendices’ inside your ride vehicle, because you wouldn’t want to get a papercut.  And no flash photography.”

            Dwight: “Why no flash photography?”

            Michael: “They just can’t, Dwight.”

            *film cuts off*

From the break room, there is a staircase nearby that takes guests to the loading platform.  Handicapped guests use an elevator located on the other side of the annex (lowers to the opposite side of the load platform). 

On the load platform, guests see the vehicles Dwight has constructed.  They appear a bit unsafe but we board regardless. 

Throughout the ride, we can see the office workers several times.  This would be done by using multiple Musion effects that work from a moving point of view.  This is essentially projecting images onto glass (which allows riders to see real objects past the glass as well), but the recorded projection would need to distort relative to the moving perspective.

Ride Script


            Loading area is decorated with various party decorations.  Dispatching from the station starts with a jolt, giving a impression of Michael and Dwight’s driving skills. 

[Scene 1] - “Crash” the Party

            In the first scene, we see the party.  Nearest to us are empty tables, followed by a table covered with appetizers.  Through a pair of supply shelves, we see the office workers socializing with the customers. 

            Office workers - distant conversation of mingling office workers with customers

            Michael: “Alright, Dwight, how are we doing?”

            Dwight: “We’re all set.”

            Michael: “Hello, everyone.  Thanks for coming to our social.  We would like to invite you —”

            As we turn to face the entrance to the tour, we glide just over a table and accidentally knock a glass vase.

            Michael: “Dwight!  Give me that…welcome, everyone, to The World of Dunder Mifflin!”

            As we enter the tour, a large globe overhead says “The World of Dunder Mifflin”.

[Scene 2] - Receptionland

            Entering Receptionland, the vehicle passes under a rainbow that is shining out of a giant telephone.

            Michael: “Our first stop is Receptionland, the magical gateway to The World of Dunder Mifflin.  This is the place where our customers can come to experience our wonderful world.  From here, there are many roads, but they all lead to one destination: paper.”

[Scene 3] - Accounting Fields

            In Accounting Fields, there is a herd of piggy banks (cutouts).  On one piggy bank, there are portraits of the accountants.

            Michael: “Unlike the outside world that runs on money, money runs free in Accounting Fields.  In The World of Dunder Mifflin, money is the building block of life.  Money provides our customers with all of their office needs, and it provides for the needs of our workers as well.”

[Scene 4] - Customer Town

            Customer Town is made up of a downtown area of shops and office.  Again, there are portraits, this time of Creed, Meredith, Kelly, Toby, Ryan, and Darryl.  Toby’s portrait is hand-drawn.

            Michael: “Here, we have Customer Town.  Customer Town has a warm, downtown atmosphere that makes you feel like home.  Our customers get the attention and service that only a small town could provide.  These lovely faces are just a phone call away, and are always working hard to provide the very best service and quality of product.  There’s no frowning in Customer Town: it’s the law.”

            Dwight: “There’s no law against frowning.”

            Michael: “Dwight, it’s just —”

[Scene 5] - Sales City

            Sales City has a sculpted skyline, with portraits of all the salesmen.

            Michael: “Welcome to Sales City.  This is where all of our customers are treated like royalty.  Even though our customers get the small town attention, The World of Dunder Mifflin has big city resources.  Our salesmen are ready to provide you with everything you require the instant that you need it, just like the nonstop pace of Sales City.  Orders are filled like a city that never sleeps, from 9AM to 5PM.”

[Scene 6] - The Underworld

            The Underworld represents the warehouse as an alleyway.

            Michael: “And speaking of orders being filled, here we have the Warehouse.  This tucked-away other world, the Underworld, is the beating life-force of our World.”

            *we hear the beat of rap music*

            Michael: “Here, our products are sent out in a timely, rhythmic manner, by our always reliable workers —”

            The vehicle stops.

            Andy: “Got it?”

            Kevin: “Oh, I got it.”

[Scene 7] - Forklift Encounter

            Interrupting the Underworld scene, the vehicle screeches from the halt and spins around a corner.  As it whips around, the riders pass just under a pallet supported by another forklift.  Kevin, controlling the vehicle, overreacts and sends riders down an aisle of shelves in a spinout.

[Scene 8] - Meet Kevin and Andy

            The vehicle comes to a stop in front of Kevin and Andy. 

            Kevin: “Uh, hi.”

            Andy: “Do you want to get us in trouble?  Give me that.”

            Andy, now in control, sends us to the party.

[Scene 9] - Chaos with The Office

            The vehicle storms into the party. 

            Dwight: “I got it back!”

            Michael: “Dwight, look out!  Where did you learn to drive?”

            Dwight: “I’ve been driving tractors since I was seven!”

            Michael: “Give it back!”

            Everyone heads for cover.  The vehicle knocks over several chairs and tables.  The vehicle again spins out of control.

[Scene 10] - The Industrial Shredder

            The vehicle stops spinning and slowly approaches the industrial shredder.  The blades are spinning rapidly. 

            Michael: “Where is it?”

            Dwight: “I don’t know, you’re the one controlling it.”

            Michael: “Shut…it…”

            The vehicle gets closer and closer to the shredder, and the lift rises the riders towards the opening.  The entire vehicle starts shaking.  The vehicle continues creeping slightly to the shredder, surely going to grind the entire vehicle into sawdust.  At the last moment, the shredder shuts down and the lift lowers to the ground.

[Scene 11] - Meet Darryl

            The vehicle slides to the right.  We see Darryl in the same room as Michael and Dwight.

            Darryl: “What did I tell you about using the lifts?”

            Michael: “It was Dwight’s idea.”

            Dwight: “You agreed to it!”

            *arguing continues as walkie talkie cuts off*


            Guests then exit the ride vehicle to their right and descend a small ramp.  They then enter The Office Supplies gift shop.  This is filled with a large assortment of The Office merchandise.

            This was a fun project for me.  It was great to mix my love of theme park attraction design with my love of The Office.  Pictures can be viewed at intended resolutions in the gallery (  If you have any suggestions for my next concept design, feel free to e-mail me at or send me a reply on Twitter to @eticketdesign.  Comments are welcome and thanks for reading!

Name: Josh Mercer
Location: Panama City, FL


A. Crawford Mosley High School
High School Diploma
Grad. Spring 2007
Gulf Coast Community College
Associate of the Arts - Pre-Engineering
Grad. Fall 2008
Florida State University – Panama City Campus
Bachelor’s Degree - Civil Engineering
Grad. Spring 2011


Official Email:
Twitter: @eticketdesign

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with theme parks.  So much so that I have designed and created theme park ideas over the years.  I have ideas for theme park attractions constantly, and can pull inspiration from nearly anything.
Currently I am studying Civil Engineering at Florida State University – Panama City Campus.  Although I do not wish to be a theme park engineer, I believe studying Civil Engineering will allow me to be involved throughout the attraction development process.  Ideally, I am striving to become a creative designer for theme park projects.
During my schooling, I am learning to think as an engineer, so I am developing my artistic abilities in my spare time.  The E-Ticket Blog, or simply E-Ticket, is where I will showcase what I have worked on or have been working on.
In the early days of theme parks, a ticket system was developed for guests to be admitted to certain attractions.  These tickets were sold in ticket books and ranged from A to E.  The very best attractions were worth one E-ticket.  Today, the ticket system is no longer used, but the best attractions at parks are still informally referred to as “E-tickets”.  Hopefully there are a few E-tickets in my portfolio.  Welcome and please feel free to contact me about my work.

Name: Josh Mercer

Location: Panama City, FL



A. Crawford Mosley High School

High School Diploma

Grad. Spring 2007

Gulf Coast Community College

Associate of the Arts - Pre-Engineering

Grad. Fall 2008

Florida State University – Panama City Campus

Bachelor’s Degree - Civil Engineering

Grad. Spring 2011



Official Email:


Twitter: @eticketdesign


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with theme parks.  So much so that I have designed and created theme park ideas over the years.  I have ideas for theme park attractions constantly, and can pull inspiration from nearly anything.

Currently I am studying Civil Engineering at Florida State University – Panama City Campus.  Although I do not wish to be a theme park engineer, I believe studying Civil Engineering will allow me to be involved throughout the attraction development process.  Ideally, I am striving to become a creative designer for theme park projects.

During my schooling, I am learning to think as an engineer, so I am developing my artistic abilities in my spare time.  The E-Ticket Blog, or simply E-Ticket, is where I will showcase what I have worked on or have been working on.

In the early days of theme parks, a ticket system was developed for guests to be admitted to certain attractions.  These tickets were sold in ticket books and ranged from A to E.  The very best attractions were worth one E-ticket.  Today, the ticket system is no longer used, but the best attractions at parks are still informally referred to as “E-tickets”.  Hopefully there are a few E-tickets in my portfolio.  Welcome and please feel free to contact me about my work.