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Blue sky

Overview of the brainstorming process for theme park attractions. Copyright The Walt Disney Company.

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Video transcript

In the last video we introduced the idea of a high concept for a dark ride. The next step is to build on your high concept by thinking of as many concrete ideas as you can for what the ride might contain. At Imagineering, we call this brainstorming process the blue sky phase. In this phase, a ride is still just an idea in our mind. So we try to be as open as possible when we take that idea and explore how it will come to life. Let's hear more about the blue sky process. It's really a time for you to dream. We sit in a room and just come up with crazy ideas. And they're usually a group of people, usually an artist, and we throw ideas off of each other and we start making sketches, and we decide what we like what we don't like. You can sketch them on a piece of paper. You can paint them. You can make a clay model. You can describe them just with words. Because I'm a very visual person, I like to see it all over. So whether I'm writing the ideas down on a whiteboard, or that I have a sticky note that we're putting all of these ideas on, it's a really really great way to see all the various ideas coming from different people and capture it in one place. You just have to get your ideas out of your head. They're not real until they're on something tangible. So we're just throwing it out there just to throw it out there, and to make sure that everything that we as a as a gut feeling that we want to see for that particular attraction and land is captured and thrown out of thrown out. So that we can actually go through it and see which of those are something that resonate with more than one person and it's something that we feel really passionate about. The reason it works so well is it's protected. It's a protected space and time that we just get to explore all the various directions the story could go. All the various directions a ride could go. At some point you do have to focus back in and come to some solution, but I think it those solutions and directions are really informed by our ability to explore all the different directions and what what might possibly be. One technique that we use to come up with ideas for a ride is to ask ourselves the question, "What if we...?" And we do this over and over again. A great thing about this stage is that we don't need to worry about the entire ride or how we're going to build it. We're free to explore different parts of the experience: such as characters, scenes, and anything else that comes to mind. One of my favorite things about Imagineering is that you never hear the word "pretend." It doesn't exist. You'll often hear the word the phrase, "What if." What if we could jump to the moon? What if we could hold our breath underwater forever? What if we could... it's it's a, "What if?" And suddenly well if you could do that, then you can do this, you can do this and you can do this, which is cool. And and sort of the what-ifs lead you down paths that open up opportunities. We know in cartoons there are no physics or we call them cartoon physics. So what if we gave that guest an opportunity to feel like they were in a space and they were experiencing an opportunity where there were no physics? We have the ability in our theme parks to make places where you can sort of do anything. So if So if you could do anything, what would you want to do? Another important part of our blue sky process is to create the right environment for our brainstorming. Every idea is valuable even if it's not used directly or right away. You want to create an atmosphere where people can feel free to give their suggestions because there really are no bad ideas or bad suggestions. There are no bad ideas. Don't throw out any idea there is no such thing as a bad idea. We don't even even have a term for throwing ideas away, it's always on the shelf. Even an idea that is ludicrous, and you could never build, and nobody likes, is probably going to lead to some other idea that you are going to like. Because even the crazy ideas, even if they don't get used, they often inspire other ideas. What eventually became the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which is our roller coaster that allows the the guest compartment to swing, that was developed as a totally independent kind of technology demo where we just wanted to show that this could be a fun interesting experience for the guests. And then from there you're going to want to make sure that you have the right people in the room. Now what do I mean by that? Well you're gonna want some diversity. But you're gonna want that diversity to be diversity of thought. People who have different experiences, have different visions. If you have two people that think the same, one of them probably doesn't need to be there. Brainstorm at the end of the day is all about that creative friction, and getting an idea from one point to another that you never expected. We all know that we are all wired a little differently, we have different personalities. So I'm an introvert and brainstorming is actually very difficult for me. It's, it takes a lot of energy to go into a room with a bunch of people and share my ideas and it's yes it's scary to have your work judged, but that is that's the necessary step to actually making something. I've done an exercise where I've asked people to write down their ideas on a piece of paper. Then we crumble up the paper we throw it across the room and then people go and randomly pick up the paper. Now you have an opportunity to pitch somebody else's ideas. So you're not vested in it really. Right? And you can just pitch it, and share it, and that's just one opportunity. There is no one right way to look at blue sky. I think it's important for you to do it your way. You know there are lots of rules and books and recommendations about brainstorming and I think there's some general really applicable guidelines, like being positive, yes and, always build on other people's ideas -never discourage someone else. And the quicker you can make something real even if it's just putting it on a page, the sooner you'll get to making something great. Blue sky brainstorming is a key component of everything we create at Imagineering. Even our biggest attractions can begin with a sentence on a scrap of paper, or a quick sketch in the back of a napkin. We'll give you a chance to get some blue sky brainstorming practice in the next exercise. While you're doing the exercise, keep in mind a few things. Try to come up with ideas without worrying about how good they are. Build on the ideas of others rather than blocking them. Make sure not to throw any ideas away. And finally, don't forget that the best brainstorming happens when you're having fun. Another piece of advice for brainstorming is to think about what you want your guests to feel and experience and keep coming back to that as you brainstorm.