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Disneyland Article
America Needs A Lesson From Project Stardust

Star Wars Galaxys Edge
Orange County Register
Robert Niles
June 2, 2020
June 9, 2020
Almost everyone gets to a point in their lives when they realize that they need to make some changes. Maybe it’s a better diet, a new job or thinking more carefully about how they treat other people.

Businesses are no different. The market changes, and businesses must to adapt to survive. A little over a year ago, Disneyland invited me out to tour the park before opening so executives could show off their new “Project Stardust.” That was Disneyland’s effort to make changes throughout the resort to prepare for the opening of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land … and the larger crowds of visitors that Disney expected the land to attract.

Disneyland’s leaders understood that a park designed for the 1950s can’t properly serve the audience of today. Even the changes made since the park debuted might have to change to serve modern crowds.

Watching the news over the past week, I couldn’t help but think that America could use its own “Project Stardust.” It’s time to redesign what’s not working in this country … and we need the people who understand how to design and maintain safe, effective and welcoming social spaces to help.

I know that I have been guilty of describing theme parks as an “escape.” But they’re really not. When you walk into Disneyland or another theme park, you walk in among the same people who surrounded you outside the park. Society has not changed inside Disneyland.

Yet it someone feels different inside. Why?

Disneyland feels different than the world outside because of its design. When I say “design,” I’m not just talking about the architecture, although that it is part of the overall scheme. It’s the layout, the staffing, the scheduling of events and the instructions you get when you visit. It’s the way that cast members are trained to manage their operations as well as the crowds who come to experience everything.

Design helps shape a society. The decisions you make about how to treat people affect the way they act in return.

Themed entertainment and experience design professionals took time and devoted their years of training and experience to create this system. Then they didn’t walk away. They kept making necessary changes — large and small — to ensure that the park operates as smoothly as possible for all who visit and work there.

There is no good reason why we cannot apply the same lessons that built Disneyland to our lives outside the park gates. Communities don’t just evolve. They grow from the result of the decisions made by the people who run them, including city councils, planning boards, business leaders and, yes, the police.

So what decisions do we wish for those leaders to make on our behalf? Do we want to keep arming our police like soldiers in a war zone while doctors and nurse scrounge for masks and teachers beg for school supplies?

Or do we want to start recognizing that we can do better than this?
Lands Referenced

Star Wars Galaxys Edge

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