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Themed Entertainment’s Obsession with Space Exploration

Themed Entertainment’s Obsession with Space Exploration
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Space: the final frontier. These are the visions of themed entertainment. It’s perpetual mission: to generate new revenue, to seek out new audiences and new intellectual property. To boldly go where all themed entertainment has gone before. With apologies to Mr. Roddenberry, the lucrative nature of “space exploration” themed experiences, attractions, and even entire parks is based on our human nature to desire the unobtainable or seemingly impossible, especially when it’s so tantalizingly within the grasp of perception.

Space is an infinite expanse we will never be able to fully fathom. Space exploration as a themed entertainment genre is an unlimited vault of exciting possibilities. Yet it satiates a very primal necessity of civilized society … the importance of Tomorrow. The reality of today is endurable solely because of the opportunities that the future always has lurking just over the horizon.

As a species we depend on our imagination to escape from the shackles of our corporal daily existence. We do not need jet packs, but we doggedly protect the belief that one day soon we will all have them. By stepping into the storied universe of space exploration, we find comfort in a seemingly achievable future – be it utopian or dystopian – radically difference from today’s tepid reality, with all the hard work having been done ahead of our arrival into this new off world existence. Common sense and plausibility are joyously set aside to make way for multi-trillion dollar spaceships using fanciful energy sources and gallivanting across the galaxy with no chronological complications from traveling such distances and the ability to easily communicate with alternate life forms/societies.

If you build it, they will come. But if you believe it, they will build it.

Themed entertainment has to navigate around dynamic issues such as historical accuracy, the mood swings of cultural appropriation, and the exponential pace of technological innovation/obsolescence. But when it comes to space exploration, there is a firm respite of timeless acceptance and enthusiasm – regardless of techno-science upheaval. Much like the Wild West back in the day, space exploration is a bankable audience pleaser that is based more on hope and promise than science and achievement. So, hardcore creative inhibitors like science fact, engineering limitations, and fiscal prudence have no place in the willing suspension of disbelief when it comes to the unlimited possibilities that space exploration might bring tomorrow in the hearts, minds, and wallets of vast audiences.

If a bankable story cuts through confusion, a bankable universe cuts through reality.

The aspirational notion that should humans one day successfully live and thrive off world, then somehow that will make life better for the rest of us stuck on our home world is laced with origination tales of Tang, microwave ovens, and solar power. It is the allure of knowing something better is just over the horizon without needing to determine what it is. This spiraling dance between our innate belief in a better tomorrow and themed entertainment’s success in bringing us the never-ending possibilities of space exploration has become a runaway reaction with ample fuel and no signs of diminishing any time soon.

Duncan Kennedy
Duncan has 20+ years experience designing and producing digital media, signature events, and destination experiences for clients.