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Theme Parks Experience Design

A project I worked on as part of my Immersive Experience Design curriculum to research an interest-based community and create a guest experience. 

Background Information

Role: Research Lead and User Interaction Design Lead 
Project Status: Complete


As part of my graduate-level Audience Development and Engagement course, I was tasked with a project for researching an interest community and creating a user experience for that community.

Working with a cross-functional team, I helped serve as the Research Lead for the first phase of the project, and then transitioned to be the User Interaction Lead for the second phase of the project.

For the project, we primarily employed the use of qualitative research methods as that was a primary project requirement, however, we did also collect quantitative research to help back up our research.

The project was divided into two parts:

Part 1 ---> Researching audience and developing audience profile

Part 2 ---> Designing a guest experience 

Starting off, my group collectively decided to choose theme parks as our area of focus. We sought to research theme park visitors and utilize that research to create an experience that they would want to engage with.

Immediately, our goal was to discover how we can engage with theme park audiences outside of the physical theme park space and how a theme park would look at home.

We decided to focus our research on two theme parks –– the Disney parks as well as the Universal Studio parks.

Audience Value Model

The Beginning Process

Our team's digital media value offering model we developed to define our project focus and overall value proposition


As research lead, I began formulating a plan of action for collecting data, interviewing theme park visitors and employees, and learning more about what makes the theme park experience so special for people. 

We ended up conducting a significant amount of literature review, looking into the global impacts of the pandemic on the theme park industry, researching the demographics of theme park visitors for different parks, and how theme parks utilize technology to create immersive environments. We also conducted a significant amount of netnography research efforts, evaluating social media platforms, blogs, virtual chats and message boards and truly being an active member of the community alongside our target audience.

Our group organized, coordinated, and facilitated 9 interviews –– one with a Universal employee, one with a current Disney employee, and 7 with consistent park visitors. As research lead I was responsible for recording our remote Zoom calls and transcribing the information from the video calls.


From there, I took that information and spent a significant amount of time going through a coding process. I created coding guidelines to organize the information from the interviews. I went through every bit of each interview to pull out specific quotes and to identify different emotions, motivations, intentions, behaviors, and characteristics about the individuals based on their interaction with the theme park space.

The goal of this was to start understanding the motivations and intentions of the group we were studying and to begin developing user personas. We sought to uncover any insights that would help us understand our audience and be able to start coming up with potential solutions that would solve any problems or accommodate any user needs or even just directly account for things that factor into one's motivations and intentions behind visiting a theme park on a consistent basis.

Coding Guidelines I established for the project

Leading the coding process, I was able to uncover many key insights that we attained from our research efforts and user interviews. I began tracking any similarities that existed between users and their emotions, motivations and intentions for visiting theme parks. I also began formulating connections between our different research methods to begin painting a more in depth picture of our audience.

As we were coding our interviews, we also created a qualtrics survey to collect quantitative data to make connections and explain some of our qualitative findings. Posting this in online message rooms, over the span of 2 days, we were able to collect 231 responses from members of the community.

Creating Audience Personas

After synthesizing our research, we developed 3 audience personas.

Part 1 - Final Presentation

Part 2

For part 2 of the project, we needed to take our audience research and create and pitch a guest experience that is applicable to the audience we studied.

From our feedback in part 1, we decided that our area of focus was very broad in nature. We made the decision to focus in on one of the intellectual properties of Universal Studios –– Harry Potter. 

Our guest experience ended up being an augmented reality application that gives additional utility to the Harry Potter Wand inside and outside of the park. Normally, consumers would just purchase the wand and then just have it laying around. It usually only serves a purpose as a prop while enjoying your in person experience in the park.

With our new proposal, the application would give the wand that Universal already sells additional use.

For this part of the project, I was able to utilize Figma for the first ever time, to storyboard and plan the user experience flow. Additionally, I employed the use of Figma to create a prototype for what the early version of the mobile application would look like.

Final Experience

Figma Prototype can be accessed here.

In Conclusion

In the end, I helped create an end-to-end user experience which gave me the opportunity to develop my research, design, communication, and leadership skills alongside my team.

Team Credits:

Katie Hoovestol - Lead Writer

Miu Nakata - Design Lead 

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