Minding the gaps in theme parks

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Fantasy temple at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Themed places can be inhabited more complexly than they suggest. They already have internal distances; those need to be emphasized. The attraction of themed places requires a border, a place of seduction and encounter created by their disconnection from the everyday. The place may try to hide the discontinuity, but its attraction depends on that gap.

We can increase the complexity of themed places by keeping their discontinuities available. Showing artifice as such. All themed places are framed, but once inside, the frame can recede; it needs to be kept visible. Foster awareness of borders and limits and of links across time and out of the fantasy. Highlight our native double inhabitation, and encourage reflection. When the experience is designed to sweep us up into a flow, emphasize that very flow as such, being aware of its transitions as transitions, and so aware of the flow rather than only swept up in its movement from one excitement to the next. If there must be a suspension of the larger context, then make that suspension alert to what it is doing, which is a way of staying related to the larger context.