The Art of Attractions | Transcending the Impossible
“It's kind of fun to do the impossible,” Walt Disney famously said. The original Imagineer created a mantra and set the tone for all the dreamers that followed him in the industry.
Building groundbreaking and record-setting rides; developing cutting-edge technologies; crafting new, fantastic worlds; conjuring projects with scales and scopes that would seem to defy all logic and reason: These are just some of the ways that designers crash boundaries and deliver attractions that enthrall audiences.
Tackling the heretofore impossible was the focus of the annual Legends panel at last year’s IAAPA Expo. It featured three celebrated designers—Thierry Coup, senior vice president and chief creative officer at Universal Creative; Phil Hettema, president and creative executive of The Hettema Group; and Scott Trowbridge, portfolio creative executive and studio leader for Walt Disney Imagineering—who all played key roles in bringing “The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man” to life when they worked together at Universal.
One of the opening-day attractions at Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure, it was the “one ride we put all of our hopes and dreams into,” Hettema said. So, what kept him and the team going when many of the things they were attempting to accomplish with “Spider-Man”—such as incorporating roving motion-base vehicles, presenting 3D projections in a dome, and moving passengers past screens—were deemed, well, impossible? “We were all dumb and naïve,” said Hettema. “And very enthusiastic.”
Coup added that they didn’t want to take no for an answer.
“We kept seeing solutions instead of problems,” he said. “We were just going to break the rules and reinvent them.”
It’s that kind of can-do, never-say-die attitude that has led to startling breakthroughs—and equally startling rides and attractions such as “Spider-Man.” It takes courage, conviction, great passion, hard work, and at least a dose of whimsy to stay the course sometimes. But the results can be breathtaking. And amazing.
“When you have faith in something, don’t be so quick to give up on it,” Trowbridge advised. Despite the doubters, he and his colleagues were laser-focused on creating what they believed would be the greatest attraction in the world. “Voila,” Trowbridge said. “What was impossible is now possible.”
Find your passion project and get the best people you can find to rally around it. Defy conventional wisdom. Figure it out and maintain hope even when others deem it a lost cause.
I’ll see you at the parks. I’ll be the one getting the scoop on an amazing attraction. Because if there’s one thing that is more fun than doing the impossible, it’s experiencing the impossible.