TEAM-at-ONCE - Visitor attraction design

TaO-Articles... about development, content, design & imagineering.


Sharing facts & opinions

Sharing is richness !!

It paves the way to better understanding, and offering insights in what drives me/us in our creative development process.

Secondly, it offers hints on what can be expected, when we do an experience project. The approach can be quite different from other attraction development companies.



Article Content Table 

1. Success in themed design.  PART 1 - PART 2.  

2. Multiple version type attractions, a hype?  A game that should be played conciously, and carefully. (Coming)

3. Emotions, a thoughtfull reminder.  (Coming)


Article 1    Success in themed design

 (May 2011)


Let the experience be better then the promise from marketing side.

Visitors receive all of the marketing messages well. Usually, marketing is excelling in raising high expectations, as these expectations attract crowds, isn't it ?

Really excelling attractions (the best on earth...) are both rare AND dazzling costly. In that case, the chances are small that they would get a bad effect from some overrating in marketing.

But in average conditions, what if the 'bravoure' of words is not matched by reality? Deception !

The far majority "word of mouth" communcation, is about comparing the marketing raised expectations and the reality met when visiting the place. It accounts for both positive and negative word of mouth.

The reasons behind failing to produce positive word of mouth can be three-fold:

1- The attraction is just bad, ranked on a 'world wide quality scale'. If this is the case, no marketing ever will be able to walk around it.

2- The attraction is ranking OK to Good on a 'world wide quality scale' but the marketing is promising a higher ranking then actually produced.

3- The attraction is ranking OK to Good on a 'world wide quality scale' but the marketing is bluntly giving or suggesting misinformation (like something different, which is not at display at all) about the experience actually provided. (Even without over-rating it. "Come and see the gorillas", when it's actually a colony of baboons... )

Strangely, although 'attraction better then the promise' should be the way to walk, most marketing bells & whistles seem to overrate attractions over and over again. It seems that the marketing people go wild, once they get a task at hand, and become fantasy story writers as if their marketing was the real product !

You can't blame them in a case 1- scenario.

You must have the guts to blame them, in the case 2- and 3- scenarios however. Stop the campaign before it's public. Screw it down in a quite decisive way, to get it back on track following the advise contained in article header.

And last but not least: screw yourself down in a quite decisive way, if you, owner/operator, were pushing the marketing team to commit overrating or bluntly provided misinformation.


In our delivery model, a standard development platform is proposed to be composed as a tripod :

Design lead * Marketing lead * Services lead

Marketing lead, as 2nd leg of the construction, must never be alien to the finished reality of concept & design ! That is something we seriously want to look after. Marketing then, is not coming in as a wild hurricane, but as a refreshing summer breeze. 

Then, let the word of mouth do it's work !  I like to hear something like.... : "We got there, and you know what? Its better then my wildest expectations !"  Means: it's better then the expectations these visitors derived from the marketing message.  That, we call the multiplication effect !  




 (March 2013)


What not  to do... in a 'real' theme park ! ??

A soft proposal for the ten commandments in real theme parks...

Observing many theme parks, and themed visitor attractions, leads to thinking them over again. While observing so many "must do's" being published to build the most successfull theme park, my reflection has been that the application of those must do's most often still lead to average products. 
Are we missing something ?

I though:  YES we're missing something. 
We miss pointing to some of the common habits in building and operating theme parks, that should be banned, as they lead to a "most common average product"  at best, by substracting from all the expensive efforts of the must do's, invested in the first place...

Reviewed, explained, and proposed...   


This is the summary : 

Table of  Basic concept  commandments

1/ Don't do any blatant copying, nor any weak lookalikes
2/ Avoid buying 'every' product off the shelf ,
and,  do not try to be  just  "Bigger", "Faster", "Higher"...
3/ Do not stick to tired conceptual templates

Table of  Concept & Design Development  commandments

4/ Do not build one-layer only attractions 
5/ Do not invest in stuff a customer can have at home (soon) 
6/ Refrain from "Virtual" unless it's adding to real-reality
7/ Do not show ugly sides in a 'real' theme park

Table of  Operational  commandments

8/ Do not ask money for stuff you actually can't deliver
9/ Do not market yourself better then you are
10/ Do not fake staff emotions in operation. Be genuine.

To read the full article "PART 2", download PDF here :  


Article 2                               Multiple version type attractions,  a hype?   A game that should be played conciously,  and carefully.   

( Coming )

Article 3                           Emotions, a thoughtfull reminder. Development & design psychology. 

( Coming)