Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Theme Park Analogy

In my third block class today one of my students, Dennis Vincent Long (he requested I publicize his name this exact way), came up with a good idea to help me explain the term theme to my students. I was going through my cards, asking them what a theme is and he popped out with, “Theme parks.”

I was initially inclined to blow this off and keep going. After a few seconds of thought, however, I realized that he was on to a good idea.

Think of the original Disney World, the park that is now called the Magic Kingdom. In that park there are four themed areas: Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, and Adventureland. There is also Main Street, USA, Liberty Square, and Mickey's Toontown Fair.

Each one of these areas has one big, unifying idea behind it. In Fantasyland all the rides, shops, restaurants, etc. are related to the various pure fantasies that Disney puts out. [Digression—Is the It’s a Small World ride in Fantasyland because world peace and harmony is nothing but a dream?] In Tomorrowland everything relates to science fiction and/or the world of tomorrow. In Frontierland everything is related to the rugged frontiers of America’s past. Adventureland is themed to the different adventure shows Disney has created over the years.

As each one of those areas has everything relate to each other, so a theme in a book or a story would be the big, unifying idea that holds that work together. All the other aspects of the book need to relate to that theme.

So, thanks, Dennis! If not for your thought today, I probably would not have come up with that analogy. It makes the idea of theme clearer to me, anyway.

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