What can Designers learn from Disneyland?

Series 1/3: Space Time Continuum – This series reflects on the then and the now, the old and the new, on how we connect with an ever evolving urban landscape.


I recently went to Disneyland Paris with my wife for our one year wedding anniversary. This is the first time I had been to an attraction park with my wife and it promised to be an interesting experience. This time I wouldn’t be searching for the fastest most terrifying ride and the repetitive rush of adrenaline as I queue again and again. My wife wasn’t there for the gravity defying rides but for the stories, the small details which connect you to the magical world of Disney. This was a very different experience in which I relaxed and enjoyed taking in the detail, buying into the stories and buying into the stores.

We all know stories sell, which is why Disneyland has more stores than restaurants and rides. People go there to live the stories, to experience the different themes and to be connected to childhood fantasies. As your turn round a corner you are transported from Hollywood to Paris and then shrunk down to the size of a toy. Everything is designed to welcome you into a magical kingdom. Who can we apply these principles to day to day life and enable people to connect with their built environment?

In my hometown of Fontainebleau each house has a few colorful tiles spread within the brick work. The tiles are different from house to house and their story is intriguing. Local legends tells of the story of a prince who once lived in the area and the tiles belonged to his palace. Small details like this bring life to an area, they create stories which connect people with their built environment. How can designer inspire themselves from local history to enable the community to connect with their design?

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