Dis­ney con­test gives stu­dents a close look at theme park de­sign

China Daily (Canada) - - YOUTH - By CAO CHEN in Shang­hai [email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

The first Dis­ney Imag­i­na­tions Shang­hai De­sign Com­pe­ti­tion, a lo­cal ver­sion of Walt Dis­ney Imag­i­neer­ing’s Imag­i­na­tions De­sign Com­pe­ti­tion cre­ated in 1991 in the United States, ended late last month, with the team from East China Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy beat­ing five other fi­nal­ists to win the con­test.

Launched in June, the com­pe­ti­tion was open to stu­dents in five uni­ver­si­ties in Shang­hai, as part of the com­pany’s ef­forts to scout for lo­cal tal­ent in theme-park de­sign and in­no­va­tion in im­mer­sive recre­ational ex­pe­ri­ences and to help pro­mote the growth of China’s cre­ative in­dus­tries.

“The com­pe­ti­tion is all about imag­i­na­tion and how tal­ented peo­ple come up with ideas. If you can dream it, you will be able to do it,” says Howard Brown, gen­eral man­ager and re­gional ex­ec­u­tive of Walt Dis­ney Imag­i­na­tions Asia.

Each team had to sub­mit their de­sign con­cepts for cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for guests to ex­plore the nat­u­ral and an­cient won­ders of the world. These projects are not in­tended to be built by the com­pany but serve as a cre­ative ex­er­cise for the stu­dents. The sub­mis­sions were judged based on fac­tors such as con­cep­tual de­sign, tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, creativ­ity, team­work and sto­ry­telling.

The win­ning project, ti­tled Pa-RoDye, was themed around the Par­i­cutin vol­cano in Mex­ico. The team from East China Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy pro­posed a vol­canoshaped struc­ture that would repli­cate the ex­pe­ri­ence of a vol­canic erup­tion and al­low guests to taste the coun­try’s cui­sine in a Mex­i­can­themed din­ing room lo­cated within. This replica vol­cano would also have an open-air mu­sic hall where vis­i­tors could lis­ten to Mex­i­can mu­sic.

“This project is a great chance for us to view Dis­ney’s mag­i­cal re­sort from the per­spec­tive of its en­gi­neers and to learn about stuff done by its en­gi­neers,” says Tao Maiqiu, team leader of the Pa-Ro-Dye project.

“We needed to see the re­sort as a dream­land for peo­ple of all ages, both chil­dren and adults. This was a key rule we bore in mind while de­sign­ing the project for the com­pe­ti­tion.”

Some of the things taken into ac­count, says Tao, were safety and bar­rier-free ac­cess for chil­dren in strollers or peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

The win­ning team will re­ceive a spon­sored trip to the Walt Dis­ney Imag­i­neer­ing head­quar­ters in Glendale, Cal­i­for­nia, where they will go be­hind the scenes and learn from the cre­ative com­mu­nity there. Af­ter the trip, the team will start an in­tern­ship at the Shang­hai Dis­ney Re­sort, the trip’s spon­sor.

Mur­ray King, the re­sort’s pub­lic af­fairs vice-pres­i­dent, says: “China now has one of the largest theme park mar­kets in the world. And we are ex­cited to see that China also has a wide range of tal­ented young stu­dents to sup­port the in­dus­try’s rapid growth, in ar­eas such as cre­ative vis­ual arts, en­gi­neer­ing, tech­ni­cal de­sign and an­i­ma­tion.”

Zhang Wei, the team leader be­hind an­other project, en­ti­tled Mount Olym­pus, says that the com­pe­ti­tion was a source of valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence for them re­gard­ing the in­te­gra­tion of art and imag­i­na­tion into a real en­gi­neer­ing task.

“Our team was in­spired by the leg­endary throne of Zeus at Mount Olym­pus, and the char­ac­ter of Her­cules, who’s fa­mous for his su­per­hu­man strength in Greek mythol­ogy,” says Zhang. “We man­aged to add these imag­i­na­tive el­e­ments into our project through which vis­i­tors could learn about Greek mythol­ogy and act as he­roes trained by Her­cules and other he­roes. For us, the whole process of the con­test went be­yond the text­books in class.”

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