The Imagineering Pyramid

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I've noticed a HUGE portion of the haunters in America have been firectly influenced by the Haunted Mansion at Disney. I suspect even more have been inspired by those haunters. It seems safe to say that Disney has therefore been a big part of Haunting in America in addition to all the other aspects of our lives it's influenced.

Taken from “CHAPTER TWO: A Quick Look at the Pyramid” of The Imagineering Pyramid:

Using Disney Theme Park Design Principles to Develop and Promote Your Creative Ideas:

So, what is The Imagineering Pyramid?

The Imagineering Pyramid is an arrangement of fifteen important Imagineering principles, techniques, and practices used by Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and construction of Disney theme parks and attractions.

The principles in the Imagineering Pyramid each fall into one of five categories or groupings, each of which forms a tier within the pyramid.

Tier 1: Foundations of Imagineering

The bottom tier of the pyramid includes the foundations, or “cornerstones”, of Imagineering. These principles serve as the base upon which all other techniques and practices are built. There are five Imagineering foundations:

It All Begins with a Story – Using your subject matter to inform decisions about your project
Creative Intent – Staying focused on your objective
Attention to Detail – Paying attention to every detail
Theming – Using appropriate details to strengthen your story and support your creative intent
Long, Medium, and Close Shots – Organizing your message to lead your audience from the general to the specific

Tier 2: Wayfinding

The second tier is focused on navigation and guiding and leading the audience, including how to grab their attention, how to lead them from one area to another, and how to lead them into and out of an attraction. The four Wayfinding principles include:

Wienies – Attracting your audience’s attention and capturing their interest
Transitions – Making changes as smooth and seamless as possible
Storyboards – Focusing on the big picture
Pre-Shows and Post-Shows – Introducing and reinforcing your story to help your audience get and stay engaged

Tier 3: Visual Communication

The third tier includes techniques of visual communication that are used throughout the parks in different ways. You’ll find examples of these in nearly every land and attraction. These principles include:

Forced Perspective – Using the illusion of size to help communicate your message
“Read”-ability – Simplifying complex subjects
Kinetics – Keeping the experience dynamic and active
Tier 4: Making It Memorable

The fourth tier includes practices focused on reinforcing ideas and engaging the audience. It is the use of these techniques which helps make visits to Disney parks memorable. These include:

The “it’s a small world” Effect – Using repetition and reinforcement to make your audience’s experience and your message memorable
Hidden Mickey’s – Involving and engaging your audience
Tier 5: Walt’s Cardinal Rule

The top tier contains a single fundamental practice employed in all the other principles. I call it “Walt Disney’s Cardinal Rule”:

Plussing – Consistently asking, “How do I make this better?”

Mickey's Ten Commandments

1. Know your audience. Don’t bore people, talk down to them or lose them by assuming that they know what you know.

2. Wear your guest’s shoes. Insist that designers, staff and your board members experience your facility as visitors as often as possible. Something else Walt also insisted on was that his Imagineering attend park rides and stand in queues every two weeks so they never lose sight or feel of what the guest sees. By the way every Corporate Manager of McDonalds is required to spend a week per year serving customers at the counter. Something they learned from Disney, I am told.

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas. Use good storytelling techniques; tell good stories, not lectures; lay out your exhibit with a clear logic.

4. Create a “weenie.” Lead visitors from one area to another by creating visual magnets and giving visitors rewards for making the journey. Okay, so by now most of you are saying “what’s this weenie thing?” Well the story is that when Walt Disney was young and went to the circus, the zoo, or an amusement park the first thing he looked for was the wiener cart, so he could have a “wienie.” It was his magnet. Do you know what Disneyland’s weenie is? Sleeping Beauty’s Castle! I know it’s not a hot dog cart but it is undeniably a visual magnet for the guests entering the park. It draws you in.

5. Communicate with visual literacy. Make good use of all the non-verbal ways of communication — color, shape, form, texture. Avoid the temptation to overload your audience with everything you’ve learned. Also, check your website and social media feeds to ensure they reflect your brand.

6. Avoid overload. Resist the temptation to tell too much, to have too many objects; don’t force people to swallow more than they can digest; try to stimulate and provide guidance to those who want more. Listen carefully to your radio station and check to ensure that you clearly communicate your key listener benefits in a consistent manner across all day parts.

7. Tell one story at a time. If you have a lot of information, divide it into distinct, logical, organized stories. People can absorb and retain information more clearly if the path to the next concept is clear and logical. Story telling is becoming a lost art on many radio stations. Encourage your PD to coach your staff on how to tell great stories on the air and on line, and if they don’t know how to do that, bring someone in who can help.

8. Avoid contradiction. Clear institutional identity helps give you the competitive edge. The public needs to know who you are and what differentiates you from other institutions they may have seen.

9. For every ounce of treatment, provide a lot of fun. How do you woo people from all other temptations? Give people plenty of opportunity to enjoy themselves by emphasizing ways that let people participate in the experience and by making your environment rich and appealing to all senses. Radio is a fun business to be in, but all too often we forget that. This is show business after all. Make the effort to have fun on the air and in the hall ways. I know of one GM who cooks lunch on a BBQ at the station every Friday in summer for the staff.

10. Keep it up. Never underestimate the importance of cleanliness and routine maintenance. People expect to get a good show every time, and people will comment more on broken and dirty stuff. Does your station sound as good as it could be technically? Is the product consistent through all dayparts and do you present the right image when you are on the streets or in front of clients?

Do you find any of these to be useful? How does it compare to your own approach?

Happy haunting!