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Are theme park attractions an art form? Some creators say yes

By in Press Enterprise on November 24, 2017

By Robert Niles

Are theme parks art?

I suspect that many of you might laugh at that question. Disneyland is fun, so it can’t be art, right? Isn’t art supposed to be serious?

While I suspect that many people might think that, I hope that you do not. Because dismissing the possibility that something like Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood could be art isn’t just bad for theme parks – it’s bad for the cause of art.

Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde raised the topic of the artistry of theme parks during the Legends panel at last week’s International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo in Orlando. Rohde, who most recently led the creative teams for Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! at Disney California Adventure and Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, was joined on the panel by fellow Imagineer Scott Trowbridge, who is overseeing the design of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Universal Creative’s Thierry Coup, who led the development of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Transformers: The Ride 3D and Universal’s The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.

The three offered a master class in the use of outside intellectual property to create world-class theme park attractions that make people feel like they’ve become characters in their favorite entertainment franchises. But that’s “entertainment” – not art.

Or is it? To me, art is a creative work that has passed the testS of time and thought. If a creative work inspires you to think about life – and continues to do so for years after you first experienced it – well, I think that’s as good a definition of art as anything.

It doesn’t have to be serious. And it definitely shouldn’t be impenetrable. Art should open thought and discussion, not shut them down. Art can be fun. It can entertain as it […]    

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