Nick De La Marre Reimagines Public Spaces Through Theme Park Design

In an article for Fast Company, designer Nick De La Marre recounted his experiences designing theme park services and applied his knowledge of immersive design to address the shortcomings of today’s social institutions and provide potential solutions.

Creating immersive worlds that are believable is no easy feat. De La Marre revealed the extraordinary effort that goes into making the experience of each visitor feel as simple, intuitive and magical as possible. Some of the most sophisticated technology in theme parks is actually dedicated to removing mundane obstacles that may disrupt the overall experience. The My Disney Experience system exemplifies this idea of minimizing experience interruptions by streamlining guest payments, booking and planning all through a convenient electronic wristband. De La Marre explained that “the best theme parks use technology as a means to an end, freeing visitors to become joyously lost in the moment.”

With well-designed environments being essential to theme parks, De La Marre described how a combination of varied rhythms and visual intrigue could affect the flow of the guest experience such as encouraging exploration or allowing moments to rest. By crafting an in-park narrative using physical spaces, transactional moments are replaced with scenes and rituals that engage guests, making them feel important throughout their journey. People feel satisfied by an experience that feels like a compelling story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

De La Marre then proposed how a similar ‘guest-first’ approach could work within the often tedious spaces of healthcare and education to make them more thoughtful and enjoyable. Intuitive information systems at hospitals could remove redundancy, turning visits into simple and stress-free personalized healthcare experiences. Schools can opt for smaller community hubs offering Wi-Fi, childcare services, and virtual classes instead of a single centralized campus. For students who juggle family and work responsibilities, this could make their schedules easier to manage, therefore making their education more accessible.

While these suggestions would introduce new technology, De La Marre disclosed a warning to deploy these technologies strategically and sparingly to account for unintended complexities. Oftentimes tools can take on a life of their own, and just because we have the technology to do something doesn’t mean that we should. The designer’s job is to find the proper balance between technology and the human experience.

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