Unnecessary Theming – Discovery Island

There’s a foul in football called Unnecessary Roughness, and there are times in the Disney theme parks like one ought to create a similarly-named “foul” called Unnecessary Theming. Except it’s not a “foul” – it’s actually a GOOD thing. These are times when Disney could VERY easily have skated by with a simple, plain, unadorned route, but chose instead to make the thing in question elaborate, ornate, or otherwise highly detailed.

It happens all the time. Here’s but one simple example. This is a building on Discovery Island not far from the bridge to Dinoland (opposite the restrooms). It’s not even a public-facing building; it appears to be the backstage kitchen of the attached Flame Tree BBQ restaurant. Have a look:

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With a building that the public isn’t even going to use, Disney could have easily opted for a plain facade. But there are wild colors here instead. There are even little carved objects throughout the wall and roofline.

Let’s zoom in on just TWO of those objects near the roof (and there are many more to choose from, stuck all over the building):

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It’s amazing that Disney dedicates this much time, expends this much effort, and spends this much money on details that are too small to be seen well at a distance.

That post didn’t have to have a rhino carved on the end of it. The rhino didn’t have to have a bird carved on it (let alone three birds). The rhino/bird combination didn’t have to have intricate paint schemes. Ditto all that for the bat on the roof.

And yet, these things are all there. It shows the Disney Difference at work. The philosophy behind it is that details are not meant to be noticed individually. They are supposed to operate as part of the fabric of the background. If you provide enough of them, you make the experience (the illusion) more believable. The “transporting to another place/time” that Disney does so well happens precisely because of attention to tiny detail like this.

Had the designers actually opted for a plain facade and boring paint – it’s just a backstage building, after all – something would be lost in this area. No visitors would complain at Guest Services, but it does seem like some magic would have been lost without those tiny details.

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