Theme park storytelling: Further deconstructing narrative immersion in European theme parks

C Baker, Wim Strijbosch, Moniek Hover, Niels Wittkampf, Juriaan van Waalwijk, X Fu, W Zhang, MGA Schulte - van Alphen, R Eddy

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Immersion is a key concept in the field of themed entertainment. Immersion has been studied in video games and other entertainment mediums (e.g., Eddy, 2021), but despite its continuous use as a term within the theme park industry, the process of how guests become immersed has not been discerned. Within this context, immersion is closely associated with narrative. Storytelling is regarded as one of the core design principles in theme parks (Younger, 2016) and is prevalent in the world’s most successful attractions (Baker, 2023). However, empirical work on the role of storytelling in immersion is limited. Furthermore, there is a need for a greater understanding of the complexities of narrative immersion in theme parks within global contexts. In a previous study, Fu et al. (2023) deconstruct immersion into four different levels: spatial-temporal immersion, sensory immersion, conceptual-imaginative immersion, and emotional immersion. The current study replicates and builds on Fu et al.’s (2023) work in a European context by interviewing Dutch informants (n=20) about their theme park experiences throughout Europe. While results are being processed, initial findings show that there are both commonalities and differences between the current and previous results. Among others, just as for the Chinese theme park context, the four levels of immersion can be recognized in the European theme parks. However, whereas reenactment and stage shows are frequently mentioned as platforms for narrative immersion in the Chinese theme park context, the European study brings dark rides and walkthrough attractions to the fore as platforms for narrative immersion. This comes with several implications for the determinants of the four levels of immersion as described by Fu et al. (2023), which will be further elaborated upon. The study highlights the potential of narrative immersion and has broad implications for the design of experiences in touristic spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2023
Event7th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism - Rosen College of Hospitality Management, Orlando, United States
Duration: 8 Dec 202311 Dec 2023
https://www.elsevier.com/events/conferences/all/world-research-summit-for-hospitality-and-tourism

Conference

Conference7th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando
Period8/12/2311/12/23
Internet address

Keywords

  • theme parks
  • immersion
  • storytelling

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