Themed Entertainment: What Brands Can Learn From Amusement Parks

Themed Entertainment: What Brands Can Learn From Amusement Parks
by Chris Wilson / April 04, 2024

Amusement parks have mastered the art of immersive branding through themed entertainment. As you stroll down Main Street USA at Disneyland or enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, you are instantly transported away from the outside world and immersed in a fully formed brand experience. These theme parks have spent decades refining strategies to use branded environments, storytelling, sensory stimulation, and emotion to forge deep connections with visitors and shape perceptions of their brand identities. 

However, amusement parks didn’t achieve this level of success through trial and error alone. Their brand experiences are backed by sophisticated research across psychology, marketing, design, and more. This expertise can offer valuable insights to brands in any industry looking to strengthen emotional bonds and foster lasting loyalty through unforgettable themed environments. While amusement parks may have perfected themed entertainment, top brands are also employing it with major success. In this article, we will explore the science and strategies behind themed entertainment, highlight examples of how brands have successfully leveraged it, and uncover lessons that all brands can apply.


Free Run of Show Template: Pull off the perfect experience every time.

What is Themed Entertainment?

Themed entertainment represents the pinnacle of engaging audience experiences, encapsulated not just in the domain of amusement parks, but expanding across various forms of location-based entertainment. It is a multifaceted design strategy that immerses participants in a cohesive, story-driven environment often anchored in recognizable intellectual properties or unique concepts. At its core, themed entertainment is about transcending the ordinary, allowing individuals to step into meticulously crafted worlds that evoke deep emotional responses and forge memorable connections. 

From the nostalgic lanes of Disneyland to the interactive exhibits of modern museums, this evolution from traditional amusement parks to broad spectrum attractions highlights a shift towards creating not just rides, but holistic, immersive experiences that engage all five senses and resonate on a personal level with the audience. It is the art and science of transforming spaces into narratives, where every detail contributes to the story, enhancing the brand's identity and the consumer's experience.


The Psychology of Themed Entertainment

The efficacy of themed entertainment lies in its ability to conjure a comprehensive immersive experience. This foundational principle engages participants both physically and emotionally, transitioning them from passive observers to active participants in a story-rich environment. Such immersion not only elevates engagement but also fosters a profound emotional connection with the brand, making the experience unforgettable.

At the heart of themed entertainment is the power of emotional brand storytelling. Humans are innately drawn to stories, which form the core of our memories and emotions. Themed entertainment leverages this by embedding consumers within a narrative, evoking empathy and a deeper, emotional engagement with the brand. This approach transforms brand narratives into personal, memorable experiences, solidifying a lasting relationship between the brand and its audience.

Finally, themed entertainment's strategic use of multisensory stimulation plays a crucial role in encoding memories. Through activating multiple senses, it crafts experiences that are not only vivid and layered but also highly retrievable, ensuring the brand narrative becomes an integral part of the consumer's memory. This sensory-rich engagement is paramount in establishing a durable, positive association with the brand.


Success Stories in Themed Entertainment

Netflix Houses: An ingenious foray into the realm of physical engagement, Netflix Houses (expected to launch in 2025) will bring the streaming giant's most popular series to life through immersive, interactive environments. By allowing visitors to step into the worlds of their favorite shows through food, events, retail experiences, and more, Netflix strengthens emotional connections, encouraging deeper brand loyalty and fostering a community of engaged fans. This unique approach not only solidifies Netflix's reputation as an entertainment powerhouse but also showcases its commitment to innovative, memorable experiences that transcend the screen.

The Crayola Experience: This colorful, interactive location-based attraction offers a hands-on exploration of creativity and color, embodying Crayola's mission to spark the imagination. Visitors of all ages can engage in activities that highlight Crayola's wide range of products and their potential for creative expression. The Crayola Experience effectively positions the brand as a leader in encouraging artistic endeavors, turning every visit into a vibrant, memorable journey into the power of color and creativity.

Meow Wolf: Meow Wolf is a unique synthesis of art, technology, and storytelling, creating fantastical, enveloping narratives that invite visitors to explore and interact with multidimensional spaces. This innovatively bridges the gap between artist and audience, making Meow Wolf a standout example of how immersive art and story-driven environments can create deeply engaging experiences. It reinforces the value of creativity and interactive art, solidifying Meow Wolf's position as a trailblazer in themed entertainment.

Nike House of Innovation: Situated as more than just a retail space, the House of Innovation encapsulates Nike's ethos of innovation, customization, and performance. This flagship venue offers visitors a highly personalized shopping experience, incorporating cutting-edge technology to design custom Nike products. Through immersive, interactive retail installations, it portrays Nike's dedication to pushing the boundaries of what's possible, enhancing consumer loyalty by involving them directly in the brand's narrative of inspiration and empowerment.

Manchester United Museum & Stadium Tour: This experience offers fans an unparalleled insight into the heart and soul of one of football's most storied clubs. Through exclusive tours and exhibits, visitors are immersed in Manchester United's rich history, iconic moments, and the passion that fuels both players and fans. This direct connection not only deepens fans' loyalty but also effectively markets the Manchester United brand, leveraging its heritage to inspire and unite supporters around the globe.


How to Apply Themed Entertainment Strategies for Your Brand

To truly leverage the power of themed entertainment for your brand, it is crucial to unearth and apply strategies that resonate with your audience. Success in this domain is not born from chance but through a meticulously crafted approach:

  1. Have a Clear Goal: Begin with the end in mind. Whether your objective is to drive a new revenue stream, sell a product, inform and educate, or simply build brand awareness–each goal dictates the architecture of your immersive experience. Understanding what you wish to achieve is the compass guiding all subsequent decisions.
  2. Create a Compelling Narrative: Your story is the soul of your experience. It's not just about telling; it's about taking your visitors on an unforgettable journey. This narrative threads together all elements of your themed entertainment, ensuring a cohesive and meaningful interaction that deeply engages your audience at an emotional level.
  3. Craft an Immersive, Interactive, and Multi-Sensory Environment: Utilizing the narrative and goal as your blueprint, design an environment that envelops your visitors in your world. Incorporate elements that appeal to all senses, supported by interactivity to empower your audience to become active participants in the story.
  4. Engage Technology Wisely: Support your immersive environment with judicious use of technology. From AR/VR to mobile apps and beyond, technology should enhance, not overshadow, the narrative and experiential goals. Its application is an art—balancing innovation with utility to elevate the storytelling.
  5. Partner with Experience: Perhaps the most pivotal aspect of successfully applying these strategies is the collaboration with a partner experienced in the vast spectrum of themed entertainment possibilities. From museums and expositions to retail environments and location-based entertainment, an adept partner brings a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record. They possess the unique ability to envision the extraordinary, translating your brand's story into a physical reality that astounds and delights. Their expertise ensures that the thematic environment is not just a space but a narrative portal, where every element works synergistically to engage, captivate, and leave a lasting impression on your audience.

In essence, mastering themed entertainment strategies for your brand isn’t merely about adopting a trend; it’s about creating memorable, impactful experiences that weave your objectives with the desires of your audience. By aligning with a partner experienced in the kaleidoscope of themed entertainment applications, you unlock the potential not just to tell a story, but to invite your audience into a world where that story lives, breathes, and engages them in unprecedented ways.

At Bridgewater Studio, we help brands create unforgettable experiences for their customers whether they are seeking a temporary pop-up or a long-term, location-based experience. Our comprehensive capabilities include strategy, design, and production, enabling us to partner with clients from inception through installation. With our expertise and a track record of exceptional outcomes, we're not just crafting experiences but elevating your brand to its apex. Ready to transcend the ordinary and forge unforgettable connections with your audience? Book a strategy session with Bridgewater Studio today, and unlock the full potential of themed entertainment for your brand.



< Prev Posts
All Posts
Next Post >

Have an experience in mind?

Here are 3 easy ways to get started...

Explore Examples

View our project portfolio for ideas, inspiration, and helpful information.

Ballpark Your Budget

Use our Experience Estimator to see how much your project might cost.

Get a Free Plan

Schedule a free Strategy Session for a complete project evaluation.

Join the community.

We’re not just creating the future of immersive experiences. We’re sharing the inside scoop with experiential industry leaders like you every week.