Vlog #4: Announcing the November project!

Published on 2018-11-07

I tried to do a green screen thing on this one. It took an incredibly long time to render and then didn't look right at all. Oh well!


Hello Drip! Hope you voted today if you’re in the United States and able to vote and also I hoped you voted for democrats!

It’s a week into November now and Halloween is still tumbling along. I ripped apart the whole set and rebuilt it more carefully, since the floors and walls were a little wonky the first time. I’m still getting the interior walls just right and working on those characters. It’s a careful balance between attention to detail and procrastination.

Let’s talk about themed attraction archetypes. The Third Avenue Chamber was a walkthrough, but narratively it was structured like The Jungle Cruise. That’s a classic Disney ride, where a dozen or so guests take a slow cruise along a jungle river listening to a tour performed live by their skipper. Both of these attractions are oriented around scenes that tell a single joke without an explicit beginning or end through one or two simple repeating actions; the setup and punchline are presented all at once and the audience parses them out by inspecting the scene. (Ian Kay calls this a GIF Story.)

While the scenes are generally humorous on their own, the context and narrative come from a narrator. Furthermore, because the audience is spending more time looking at each scene, there’s value in adding environmental details that build the world and reinforce the primary action. (To cite Ian again, these are called Forensic Stories.)

Let’s compare this to a classic dark ride: they tend to have many more gags, but each one is smaller and simpler, and their effect depends on a series of quick reveals—it’s almost always about 12 gags in about 3 minutes. The story in these kinds of rides is usually a little more abstract, or reinforced by a more popular source material—you don’t need to spell out the plot of Peter Pan’s Flight because most people riding it have probably seen Peter Pan.

All of the attractions I’ve created up to this point are like The Jungle Cruise. They’re these broad stories being told with a lot of exposition and a little exploration. For some reason, this is just the format I’m drawn to, or it’s the one that comes to me most naturally, but either way, I want to branch out, so here’s the plan: we take an existing, successful, classic dark ride; we deconstruct that project; we swap some things around and change some details to design an original work; and then we build that thing!

We could go way back to the beginning, to the Coney Island jump-scare contraptions, but those don’t have enough story for my taste. We could go more contemporary with something like Snow White’s Scary Adventures, but that—like I said earlier—relies too much on its riders knowing the story before they crash through the first set of doors. Instead, I’ve got something in mind that definitely has a beginning, middle, and end, but stands alone from its somewhat obscure source material. I’m talking, of course, about Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!

Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to break down Mr. Toad, figure out the beats of its story and how they relate, then start changing the pieces and putting them back together. And yes, this thing will have vehicles! If I’m only building a model, I shouldn’t be worried too much about the feasibility of the project. It’s an exercise!

More next week! See you on stage!