The story, but a different story
This project started with my naive and utopian hypothesis: 'Is there any one experience, equally memorable for everybody, that affects people‘s ordinary lives in a meaningful way afterward?‘ To explore this matter from multiple angles, I needed a research location that already had strongly staged experiences with a clear theme, diverse actors, and its own narratives. And I hit upon the right place: Disneyland Paris.
To discuss 'the experience‘, I categorized peoples‘ different impressions of their experiences at Disneyland Paris. When I interviewed staff and visitors on their way out of Disneyland Paris, some people said that their experience had been awful, while others said it had been fantastic. What makes for such different responses to the same place? Two theorists declare, 'Experiences are inherently personal and no two people can have the same experience, because each experience derives from the interaction between the staged event (like a theatrical play) and the individual‘s state of mind‘ (Pine Ⅱand Gilmore, 1998). Since the individual‘s state of mind cannot be grasped and is a broad research term, in this thesis I am mostly concerned with the key experience-generating elements: age and social role.
The ultimate purpose of this project is to investigate the pre-and post-experience at the entrance and exit of a given venue for a special experience with a clear theme, that bridge connecting visitors‘ and staff‘s everyday experiences to the staged experience. The practical outcome of this research-led project consists mainly of various trials of a procession that engages visitors at the borders of the venue. This research will consist of the following: 1) Analytical reflection upon visitors‘ and staff‘s one-day experience in a Disney theme park, based on narrative structure and perception of time, 2) Observations of different time perceptions in adults and children, 3) Definition of flow of experience (pre-experience / main experience / post-experience), and 4) Presentation of a new model of participatory stories in a given theme1 to smooth the flow of experience.
1Disneyland Paris was my chosen site for the theoretical background, and the practical methodologies are developed through Konstfack‘s 2011 spring exhibition. What this project intends to do, however, is not to upgrade the experiences in both, but rather to focus on the experiments in order to vary the existing definitions of the flow of experience. The final outcome is intended to be applied to the diverse venues that aim to offer their visitors special experiences with a clear theme.
This has been an in-depth exploration of how experience design can be applied as a renewing force, or 'twist‘, to help people experience immersive moments and to gain unforgettable memories which, in turn, influence their future experiences.
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