Game-design lessons from Disneyland -- UPDATED


23 Responses to “Game-design lessons from Disneyland -- UPDATED”

  1. Stefan Jones says:

    So, Disney did for theme parks what Temple Grandin did for abattoirs?

  2. bobsyeruncle says:

    @#3 Ha ha!

    You arrive here and are carried along the corridor on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort, past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives. The last twenty feet of the corridor are heavily soundproofed. The blood pours down these chutes and the mangled flesh slurps into these…

    It’s people! The weenies are people! …

  3. jfrancis says:

    I have noticed the way there is a ‘palette clearing’ trip under a depression that sets up a grand ‘come into a clearing and get a dramatic first look.’

    Now where was that? Disney’s Toontown? It’s been a while since I’ve been, but I remember noticing the layout and its effect at the time.

  4. Got Medieval says:

    According to the book ‘Rules of Play’: “Weenie” is a phrase coined by Walt Disney himself. It refers to the technique used on movie sets of guiding stage dogs by holding up part of a sausage.

  5. jonathansalembaskin says:

    How cool. Imagine if a consumer ‘engagement’ with brand’s communication were similarly conceived as a game?

  6. pimlottc says:

    @1: um, because it’s possible to dislike one aspect of an entity, but admire another aspect? because even if someone or something is your mortal enemy, it’s still possible to learn something from it (and thus improve yourself)?

  7. merreborn says:


    They do make you walk under an underpass-type-thing to get into toontown:

    You’re almost certainly right about the “palette clearing” intent.

  8. cinemajay says:

    @1, there seems to be a great deal one can learn from both Disney’s feats and its foibles.

  9. Takuan says:

    snardpickery time: “palette clearing” is meant to be “palate cleansing”? I keep seeing that crop up.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant. Just brilliant.

    I had noticed how Disneyland more-or-less takes you on a journey through time, ending at Tomorrowland (which is part of what made the redesign of Tomorrowland so tragic). But I hadn’t noticed different styles of pathways influenced the “story” of one’s journey through the park. Thanks for sharing your notes. Fascinating. I hope a video of this becomes available someday.

    And, your notes also supplied my new favorite word: “boioioing.”

  11. GoldMatenes says:


    Wikipedia ‘Argumentum ad hitlerium’.

  12. Brian Upton says:

    Hmmm … I’m sorry I missed GDC this year. It sounds like Scott’s talk covered similar ground to a talk I gave at GDC two years ago:

  13. Stefan Jones says:

    Do different demographics react to the same weenie differently?

    If a park had a rapid prototyping system for weenies that could try out different colors, designs, and themes and see if various groups could be tugged one way or another.

    Arrange things right, and all the die-hard shoppers would find themselves channeled to what amounts to a giant mall, where they could have their money extracted and shorten the queues for rides.

    And all the potential vandals and thugs would be inexorably drawn to a far corner of a park, where they’d pass through a one-way gate and find themselves in a weed-strewn vacant lot.

  14. Anonymous says:

    this is a rehash presentation from last year, albeit with better photos. it changed the way i thought about design of public spaces and the role of video games in rapid prototyping for public works. hopefully others were as inspired this year!

  15. Jack says:

    You know, I’m tired of hearing about Disney being the biggest creative force there is when it comes to Boing, Boing posts.

    Not for nothing, but I’m not going to respect game design tips from someone who created something as derivatively awful as Pac Man World.

    Can there be deeper exploration into the puzzle/game concepts behind classic games that make them truly timeless?

  16. Uncle_Max says:

    “Enhancing Weenies”

    I’ve been getting e-mails on this topic for years.

  17. Cloudform says:

    Yes! I have thought on this at length previously–by happenstance, I was reading “Designing Disney’s Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance” at the same time “Zelda: Twilight Princess” came out. As you can tell by the title, “The Architecture of Reassurance” is just what is needed to encourage players–this book should be required reading for 3D level designers!

    The parallels are remarkable–and sometimes literal–

    -”The castle in the center” is the main weenie in both.
    -Map is a hub, with castle in the center and different style lands as spokes, most with their own weenie–Death Mountain in the distance is almost an exact parallel to Big Thunder Mountain or Splash Mountain.
    -Perspective tricks are used so that your view is constrained, and then you open up into vastly differently styled zones (also helps with loading new zones from DVD into memory seamlessly, in the case of Zelda)
    -Fading-out one style of music and fading-in another style of background music seamlessly as you switch zones, just like moving over the bridge into Adventureland from Main Street in WDW
    -Heavy use of long view/close view techniques that are documented in the Architecture of Reassurance–in Zelda, this is used to cast your attention on the next step of a puzzle from very far away, and once you get closer gives you more info on what to do, in WDW to tell you what’s the next fun thing to do.
    -Lots of vendors in both. (g)

    Miyamoto really is the Disney of our time!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Might I point Boingers with an attenuated historical memory to the original maker of panoramas and vistas that lead… Lancelot “Capability” Brown?

    The term weenies pretty much summed up Disney’s attitude to his customers – very Ayn Rand if you asked me. Let’s not speak of his park again.

  19. Daemon says:

    And yet, I find the mere thought of going to disneyland to be entirely painfull.

  20. jfrancis says:

    @ #10

    Is it? I was floundering around for the right word.

  21. voivoed says:

    Hey Cory, with all the harm that Disney did and does to the Public Domain and fair copyright, how come you’re still so into it?

  22. merreborn says:

    Weenies? Surely this can’t be a reference to the phallic nature of castle towers.

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