The Path to an Experience
I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but I’m going to anyway. My first blog post was about Disney and I’m doing it again. My family just got back from the World and I noticed something that sparked an idea for a blog post.
The Imagineers at Disney are truly magicians when it comes to creating experiences for the guests in the parks. Their attention to detail and the multi-sensory approach to controlling how, when and what you’re experiencing is sometimes scary.
The sounds of drums that slowly come into audio focus as you cross the bridge into Adventureland begin to create a sense of adventure. This happens the same time you leave the ragtime piano sounds of the Victorian Era of Main Street USA. The comfort of civilization gives way to the unknown adventure that lies ahead – and it’s done with sound of all things.
The smell of freshly baked cookies and pastries piped into Main Street USA BEFORE you reach the Main Street Bakery is a very intentional tactic. As you approach the Main Street Bakery your sense of smell has already started encouraging you to want the tasty treats you’re about to encounter.
Of all the senses the visual effects are probably the most easily appreciated by guests. But it’s not just the visual design but the pace at which you’re allowed to absorb it. When you enter the Magic Kingdom you step through a train station and you’re presented with a view of the castle. The view is enhanced with forced perspective that draws you into the center of the park. The trees on Main Street become gradually smaller as you look towards the castle. The castle itself becomes proportionally smaller as it rises into the sky. This plays a trick on you visually to give the impression the castle is farther away and larger than it actually is. It draws you, excitedly, into the center of the park.
But it works in reverse at the end of the day. You’re exhausted and you find yourself at the castle on the way out of the park and the train station is not designed with forced perspective, but rather it’s oversized. The trees along Main Street now work in reverse. They become larger as you look towards the exit. This creates a sense of relief. The exit seems closer. You’re tired and want to leave and the Imagineers have created a sense of comfort.
On one end of the spectrum you have the dramatic reveal of the castle. On the other are the carefully constructed pathways that conceal the next experience around the corner. Many of the pathways are constructed to be crooked and winding so that you’re not allowed to jump too far ahead in your experience. The Imagineers squeeze every last drop out of each moment and then introduce you to the next moment. I noticed this on the way to the pool at my resort. It could have been constructed as a straight shot. But the winding path and strategically placed landscaping obscured my view of the pool. I could hear the sounds of a waterfall and the children playing, but I couldn’t see it. My imagination began to explore the fun experiences I was about to have. That’s something that wouldn’t have happened otherwise if I’d been presented with a view of the pool prematurely.
I thought about the work we do here at R+M and how we encourage our clients to do the same with their messaging. Don’t spill your guts on the home page of your website. Don’t jam as much content as you can into your brochure just because you have a little white space to fill. Control the experience of your reader. Introduce them to your messaging in a manner that sets up the next idea or concept. Guide your visitor through your brand in a way that lets them really absorb who you are and why they should care.
R+M’s next task is to make your website smell like cookies. Once we do that, you’ll be set.