I took the Theme Park Engineering class and posted my project process and backstory at WriteSafe.com (which also automatically enters it into their quarterly contest - the project got to the finalist level).
I would love to have feedback or comments from y'all. It can be found at
under Castaway Mountain. (The very end of the project also includes the overall ideas for a whole theme park.) I highly recommend the class, and also recommend WriteSafe for registering any ideas (art, writing...) that you may want to protect, or showcase. (it's cheap, too)
There are also a few sitcom spec scripts listed under the television category if you are really bored and want some of that style of reading.
I look forward to anything anyone has to say - I can take criticism.
(editted after I figured out the next morning that I put Island instead of Mountain - like all of the other mountain rides. Too many long hours and late nights with work lately.)
In trying to better my show writing, I'd appreciate any feedback.
Here's the Outline version. Hope it isn't too long (4 pages in Word format).
Flume Ride Outline
The mountain is a heavily forested, tropical rainforest with misty waterfalls cutting through the drifting fog. At the base of the mountain there are lush gardens and peaceful koi ponds with bridges beckoning us to take a leisurely stroll toward the Yacht Club Restaurant, built into the side of the hill, where cares of the busy life are quickly forgotten. The air is filled with the smell of plumeria blossoms as well as the island sounds of slack key guitar and dew dripping from unbridled foliage. Beside the outdoor patio we see an entrance to “Robinson’s Cruises” inviting us to sail to adventure. The plants around the doorway are more overgrown, as if abandoned for a while.
Inside, we find ourselves in the queue. We start by making our way up a gang plank in a room with the look and feel of the open sea, where mild breezes blow, gulls soar, gentle waves lap, and a cerulean ocean blends to an azure sky. This is the start of our journey, from a leisurely afternoon cruise that became a bigger than life adventure for our captain.
The next room is more like a sail boat, with guy lines and teak railings all around. The skies are darker, with the sound of distant thunder and rain you can smell. The lighting cycles through changing intensities. The music is now more powerful, signifying eminent doom. Through projections, and a slight swaying of the platform, there is a sense of movement to the room, like a rolling sea.
In the final room, there is a rope and plank bridge, surrounded by thick jungle. We can see the mountain from here. The exterior façade has become the cyc ceiling for the interior. There is a base camp that has been decorated with household items made from bamboo, shells, and coconuts. A canopy made from an old sail hangs overhead, torn from falling palm branches and years of wear. Piles of coconuts in a corner indicate that the island won’t hold up to intrusion or support anyone much longer. Audio-animatronic Captain Rob assures his pet pelican, Freddie, that he won’t be eaten. He then reminds everyone to save their resources for when they need those most – especially the gas for the motor, when it will be needed for getting through the rough surf at the end of the journey.
“Frida” lends a hand as we climb into rickety, weather-beaten old lifeboats, to escape the dangers of the island, with a warning that much more lies ahead of us.
Each room in the queue has had a subtle rise in elevation, bringing everyone to the load platform, about halfway up the mountain. Each room on the ride will have a drop, but even more of a rise, masked with forced perspective, slanted set pieces, and motion control bases that keep the boats level while ascending the ramps with water rushing down to look like rapids instead of going uphill. The flume circles the “inside” mountain as it goes up, with side trips through the middle, while the ceiling is used for lighting and projection for sky, jungle canopy, and other effects.
Just as we start around the first turn, Butch, who appears to have been stranded a long while on the island, warns against trying to steal HIS treasure. He uses a gaffing pole to push the boat away from the calm water, sending it down a turbulent, rapid-filled alternate fork in the river. The pole hooks onto the motor’s handle, starting it and sending it careening toward danger.
Our adventure begins with threats from the animal world. Striking snakes narrowly miss the boat, as gorillas fight big cats on the banks. Mischievous monkeys help Butch start a landslide of rocks and trees, coming right toward us. Sounds of wild animals in the jungle continue throughout the ride. We are protected from them as we turn into a small cave.
The second room reveals the presence of warring natives. Spears fly by and an overhead rope bridge is cut, swinging just ahead, but missing the river. Captain Rob appears, grabbing a bamboo pole, guiding us into deeper brush, and yelling at us to turn off the motor, as we escape peril once again.
The next room brings us higher and closer to the center of the island… and the volcano that made it. The heat intensifies as lava flows and rocks spew into the river all around us, steaming as they hit. The smell of trees burning fills the air and the rumbling explosions drown out the sounds of the jungle. Just before the whole mountain blows its top, there is a bend in the river, leading to a lazy, peaceful section.
Around the turn, we come out of the thick underbrush, and find that we are outside, high atop the (outside) mountain, overlooking a lagoon with a resort, far below. The nearly catastrophic cruise had only led to the other side of the island, not uncharted or uninhabited at all. However, our boat is headed toward a giant waterfall. Huge boulders in the river funnel the water faster, the sound of the falls grows louder, and the motor runs out of gas, just before the edge. Around the last boulder, the boat detours into a dark, steep cave of hidden, twisting tunnels. Every turn of this heart-pounding final thrill ride is filled with hard-beating jungle rhythms at every turn.
At the bottom of the cave, the boat splashes down, disrupting a tranquil lagoon, soaking Butch and others who dare to cross the bridge into the wild side of this island. Guests at the Yacht Club enjoy their relaxing dining experience on the other side of the lagoon, safely away from the splash zone.
Disembarking safely, Captain Rob thanks everyone for coming and invites us to enjoy an Island Shave Ice in the Shave Cave, just on the other side of Tropical Treasure Trove and Trinkets. Available for sale are souvenirs made of coconuts, bamboo, shells, as well as “survival” t-shirts and a video copy of your journey on DVD or to send home as an e-mail. There are also trails around the mountain, to linger in the tropical atmosphere a little longer (but away from the boats).
[Can also be viewed at www.writesafe.com under View, New Gallery, Art]
As you implied, this is a rather long read for an introduction to the attraction. What is the throughline? In other words, pretend that I am a busy executive, and you have only a few sentences to get me hooked into your idea. What would you tell me?
I was reading an article by Joe Rohde last night (a creative exec at Imagineering). He was talking about how Animal Kingdom was designed based on three ideas: "the universal love of animals real and imaginary, the power of physical adventure, and the intrinsic value of nature itself". That is the entire park, in a nutshell. These ideas allow them to judge every design decision so that they know whether or not they are telling a cohesive story.
What is the core idea? Put that first. Second, what is your "elevator pitch". If you had 30 seconds or less to get someone excited about the idea, what would you tell them?
What you have here is a great long-form narrative, with plenty of lush adjectives and descriptions, but make sure to also hone your short-form -- so that you can effectively "market" your idea or design to the client or investors... and this will also help you know if each scene is effectively building into the idea or emotion that you want to convey.
It is clear that you have a gift for writing, and the descriptions gave me a clear image in my mind of the queue and progression. It sounds like an interesting attraction overall with some potentially compelling characters and situations. I am wondering if there is more to the "payoff" than just a splashdown flume, though. You have set up an interesting storyworld which could have many layers of rich narrative (like Expedition Everest or Splash Mountain), but the progression of the attraction seems like a series of events rather than a beginning, middle and end or a layering of narrative detail. Butch, in the beginning, warns you away from "his" treasure. Is there treasure? Do we want it? Is there a possibility of finding it? Of helping him find civilization? Who is Captain Rob? Did he know that the cruise would be perilous and wanted a quick buck (but doesn't want bad press)? Or is he the swashbuckling Indiana Jones type who always inexplicably appears just when disaster is iminent?
This is fodder for a great attraction... even a diamond has to be polished...
P.S. Watch those passive verbs - especially in the first few paragraphs...
Thanks Holly. That's a lot of great insight things to think about. I know I need to work on my short form and these specific notes help me in figuring out how to do that. I'll work on it and post a quick, short version. Thanks again for taking time to give feedback.
(links to other sites no longer work - lost a lot of my work when the write safe site went away)
This project is what started me on the path to show writing. Imagineeringclass.com is still highly recommended. Lots of fun. Great way to learn technical and creative sides.
I have short, medium and long versions of this.
Steve Alcorn is someone we've been in contact with many times over the years. I'd like to see if we can get him in on an interview soon. I'm glad he inspired you to show writing!