Thursday, January 14, 2021

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee game play storyboards

This semester, I teach a new class: Storyboarding! 

I've been storyboarding video games since the 90's but I haven't really publicly shared any my artwork. These are storyboards that I drew for game play for the Playstation One classic game Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.



At the time, I was working for Alexandria Studios as an artist, but along the way, I realized that game design was much more interesting and more suited to my talents. Thanks to design director Bill Anderson, he took me under his wing and started showing me "the ropes" of game design. 

In exchange, I would draw level design maps and storyboard game play. It was around this time that Alexandria partnered up with a new company called Oddworld Inhabitants - they were a group of special effects artists from Los Angeles (we were near San Luis Obispo). The company was only three people at the time - President Sherry McKenna, Creative lead Loren Lanning and concept artist Steve Olds. Many of the games characters had been designed but very little game play or level designs were made.

Bill was brought on to design the game but soon he realized he needed some help, so I was brought onboard to storyboard game play. I remember playing lots of games that were similar to the game we were making - games like Black Thorne and Out of This World. Back then our game was called "Soulstorm" - you can see it's logo on my storyboard pages.

These storyboards were created to determine the pacing of the game play and the relationship of the encounters to the level design - which I created in a more traditional map form such as these:

These storyboards resemble those used in animated films and for video game cutscenes but since the majority of the Oddworld team came from an animation background, they were much more familiar with this format. In retrospect, doing these served me well when it came to illustrating game play concepts on my future games.

I remember doing more of these game play storyboards, but these appear to be the only ones I could find to scan.

In this storyboard, Abe encounters a dangerous rock:








In this partial storyboard, Abe swims:



In this storyboard, Abe tries to free some friends: 






Abe encounters some Sligs and deadly spikey balls:











 
I hope you enjoyed looking at my contribution to this classic game!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The "Best" Board Games of All Time?

 

 
 
I recently read this listicle on the Better House and Garden Magazine website: a magazine that has a pretty big readership*.

I'll spare you the read:

The Game of Life, Clue, Candyland, Monopoly, Scrabble, Battleship, Risk, Stratego, Axis and Allies, Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Blokus, Agricola, Connect Four, Twister, Operation, Don't Break the Ice, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Boggle, Mouse Trap, Jenga, Mastermind, Qwirkle, Uno, Cranium, Dominos, Chutes and Ladders, Carcassonne, Traffic Jam, Trouble, Ticket to Ride, Sorry!, Yahtzee, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Scattergories, Catchphrase, Taboo, Speak Out, Password, Mad Gab, Trivial Pursuit, Catan, Dominion, Cribbage, Cards against Humanity, and Azul

My first emotion when I finished reading this list was frustration.

Frustration that so many "hum-drum" games are still getting attention after all of this time. Traffic Jam, Mouse Trap and Hungry Hungry Hippos barely qualify as games - they're more like puzzles or toys. And does any one really need to be reminded about the existence of Chess, Checkers or Backgammon? This list read like the shelf at my local Goodwill.

To the list creator's credit, they did add some "newish" games like CAH, Qwirkle, Azul, and Dominion, but even most of those are over 12 years old! Hardly the new hotness.
It's not to say that (most) of these games don't deserve to be on the "best of all time" list (although I would hotly argue against CAH) but is this really the best games of all time? Surely there are games more interesting and exciting that deserve to bump a few of these off this list?

...OR is this list a challenge to us game designers who are trying to make a mark? I think we game designers can learn from this list because, like it our not, it shows us our competition.

Let's look at some common factors about all of these games:

1. Almost half of the games are over 50 years old.
Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, Chinese Checkers, Sorry!, Monopoly, Twister, Dominos, Risk, Stratego, Candyland, Clue, The Game of Life, Mastermind, Password, Battleship, Operation, Don't Break the Ice, Mouse Trap, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, Yahtzee, And Cribbage - with several (Uno, Mad Gab, and Hungry Hungry Hippos) creeping up on 50.
The "problem" with these games is that they are institutions. Games that have become part of the social consciousness although the consciousness of this list is very Euro/Western-centric list - where is Mahjong, Go, or Parcheesi?

These are games whose imagery is burned in our collective brains. If you were to go outside right now (OK, use social media instead) and if you asked people to "name a board game" 75% (if not more) of the people asked would answer one of games on the above list**.

These are games that are considered "evergreen" games. Games that have sold for decades. I guarantee if you were to go to Hasbro and ask which would you rather publish, Clue or my new game? You know who is going to win out. In a way, those successful games keep our new games off the shelves.

This is a "problem" for us game designers. Unlike video games, board games never really age or go out of fashion. Their graphics don't look dated (mostly) and their hardware doesn't fail over time.

"Every game is our competition" someone once said***. This makes it really tough (and frankly, stupid) to say "I am going to design the next (fill-in-the-blank-game-from-the-above list)" because those games are so cemented in humanity's collective brains that they aren't going to get unseated any time soon. And we shouldn't even try.

At the 2019 Tabletop Network Conference, Martin Wallace advised game designers to "not grow your tree in the shadow of a bigger tree" - which I think is a great metaphor... but it also makes our job that much harder.

Being original is HARD. (and some would say, it's impossible to be original any more - you can only be "novel" or "unique".) 
 
Look at the "youngest" games on the list - Dominion, Qwirkle (both 2008), Cards Against Humanity (2009), and Azul (2017). It's not unfair to say these games are "just" revised or rethemed versions of Magic the Gathering, Dominoes, Apples to Apples and Majhong. Is this a strategy to success? Simplify an already simple game or even just "make it prettier"?
 
2. Most (98%) of these games are for "all-ages".
Which really means that they are relatively easy to learn how to play (Agricola and Dominion being the list's exceptions). 
 
The hobbyist board game community often looks down on "easy to learn" and "simple" as a negative - as a game that isn't extremely complicated isn't worth our time. There's even a derogatory name for these type of simple games - "filler games" - as in these games just "fill the time" between bigger, more worthwhile games. We, as game makers, need to get over ourselves if we want to make games that stand the test of time like those games above and embrace (if not celebrate) simplicity.
 
3. None of these games are "genre" games.
None of these games are about the following genres: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Superheroes, Westerns, Dungeons, Dragons, Cthulhu or Zombies. 
 
Five of these games are about warfare (and that's because the list-maker had a category called "strategy games"), two are about farming, one is about murder, one is about finance, and one is about traffic***.
 
Most of these games are abstract - meaning there is no story, no characters, no setting for these games. They are "first person" games where the player is "just" the player.
 
This observation says to me: "if you want your game to be successful, it needs to be relatable." It either needs to be about something that happens in real-life (like farming or traffic or murder) or that it exist in that abstract place where games seem to live - the realm of mechanisms over theme. 
 
Now, this one is a bitter pill for me to swallow. Despite being the creator of Pantone the Game, I'm a "theme first" kind of guy. Does this mean if I want to compete with the "big-boys" I need to think more abstractly?
 
4. These games are tactile.
While tactility is an important part of game design, these games are "not just card" games. Life, Monopoly and Traffic Jam have little cars. Candyland has gingerbread pawns. Scrabble, Dominoes, Qwirkle and Azul use chunky tiles. Chinese Checkers use marbles. Sorry uses cones. Pegs and Pawns. Meeples and Tokens. Some of them use "unusual" interface tools such as tweezers, hammers, modelling clay and even your own body parts. In fact, only 12 of the games on the list use cards at all.
 
These games are also "toyetic" - or have a toy-like quality to them. Mouse Trap is not much of a game, but it is one heck of a toy. There are two types of game makers out there. The "inventors" who make games for the mass-market companies: Hasbro, Mattel, Griffen, Wonderforge and the "game designers" who make games for everyone else. Whose games do you see more of on the shelf at your local big-box store?
 
5. Most of these games are for many players.
I think it's fair to say that most of these games are considered "kids" games or "party" games, but they are also for 4 or more players. 
 
There are some exceptions (Chess, Backgammon, Connect Four, Mastermind, Stratego) but as all games are social, the games on this list exploit the social aspect that board gaming caters to so well. 
 
See how many players it takes before your game "breaks" - either takes too long for players between turns or there isn't enough physical space around the board or enough cards to go around. The more players the better! (Pro-tip, you can break players into teams to maximize player count - that's how Pantone the Game plays 2-20 players!)
 
These games also encourage interaction amongst players, there no "multiplayer solitaire" or "parallel play" happening in these games. Keeping a player engaged in the game at all times should be a standard goal for any game designer... but I admit, sometimes I forget to think about it. (This is why I write this stuff down, dear reader)
 
So what is a game designer to do?
If we want to be competitive, take a long look at the competition... and then try to find your own spot to "plant your tree" - away from the air and water-sucking games on this list.
Design a game about a relatable activity for a group of people, that has a tactile element and is easy to learn. Then maybe next year we'll see your game***** on this list!
 
Footnotes:
* According to the interwebs, Better Homes and Gardens has a readership of somewhere between 7.6 and 30 million readers (!!!) - It's the third largest paid magazine circulation in the United States. That's a list worth getting on!
 
** As I was writing this blog post, I ran my own poll on social media. Granted, many of my friends are "gamers" who play and know about all types of board games, but even still, 75% of them listed a game from that list above as the game they think of when I say "Name a board game". Booyah! Right on the nose with my original estimation!
 
*** It might have been Rob Daviau who said this. I forget.
 
**** A game about traffic? Does this finally mean vindication for Randall Hoyt?
 
***** For the record, I would have replaced a few of the games on that list with Quiddler, Pandemic and Codenames.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

2020 Tabletop Holiday Gift Guide

 


Happy Holidays! Around this time of year, I start to see lists of game recommendations for holiday gifts and they always look something like this:

Now this is a perfectly fine list... for the year 1999. (and who plays UNO with just two players?) But one of the fantastic things about the board gaming industry is how far it has come from the "roll & move" days of Monopoly and Mousetrap. 

So here's a list of ten tabletop games that will guarantee to put a smile on the face of anyone who receives it!

2020 HOLIDAY TABLETOP GAMES GIFT GUIDE

HORRIFIED (Ravensburger)
In this cooperative game, players work together to thwart several of the Universal Monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature of the Black Lagoon, etc.) from causing havoc in a town. This game is perfect for families as well as experienced gamers who already like Pandemic and Arkham Horror. Plus, it comes with fantastic monster miniatures!

 

SPLENDOR MARVEL (Space Cowboy Games)
Splendor is a game about craftsmen carefully selecting gems to construct fine jewelry. Marvel Splendor is about carefully selecting superheroes to defeat a mad Titan who selects gems that will destroy half of the universe. Regular Splendor is fine, but adding superheroes makes anything better.

 

HAUNTED MANSION: CALL IN THE SPIRITS (Funko)
If you look past it's beautiful artwork and some of the most creative box art I've seen, you'll find a tight card game that feels like a mix of Sushi Go and Guillotine - two favorites of mine.


THROW THROW BURRITO (Exploding Kittens)
This fast-paced card game plays like a mix of Exploding Kittens (which makes sense because the same creators made this), Dutch Blitz and Dodgeball. Play sets of cards and whang soft rubber burritos at each other in this silly party game.

RISK: WARHAMMER 40K (USAOPOLY)
In the grim-dark future of war, even they play Risk. This take on the classic game utilizes characters from that other miniatures game Warhammer 40K. They are almost nothing alike, but the two go together like chocolate and peanut butter.


KINGDOMINO (Blue Orange)
This tile-laying game plays much like Carcassone but without the meeples. Games are quick, light and create a beautiful little map each game. And it won the Spiel des Jahre, which means it's really good.

WAVELENGTH (Palm Court)
In this "mind-reading" party game, players try to guess the "frequency" of a topic based on clues. It's more hilarious than how I'm describing it.

THE CREW: QUEST FOR PLANET NINE (Kosmos)
Another Spiel Des Jahres winner, this time it's a sci-fi themed cooperative trick taking game where the players communicate silently to win hands.

NEMESIS (Rebel)
Until we get an officially licensed "Alien" game, I think Nemesis is a great stand-in. Players scramble to achieve goals while horrible space aliens invade the ship and, usually, rip them apart. Players can get implanted with aliens or even betray each other. While this game is more dense than your average game, it always delivers a suspense-filled exciting evening!

OUTFOXED (Gamewright)
This delightful mystery game is great for players of all ages as they try to deduce which fox stole the pie. Fantastic components and charming art makes this a fun family game.


PANTONE THE GAME (Cryptozoic Entertainment)
It's my list, so I'm allowed to plug my own game. In this family party game, you take turns creating characters using colored swatches while the other players try to guess their identity. This new edition comes with more character cards!

 

GAMEMASTER (2020)
And while you are shopping for gifts, why not consider downloading Gamemaster, the exceptional documentary film about tabletop game designers that I (and several other talented designers) are in! If you want to learn more about making games, or just want to meet some fascinating characters, I highly recommend it!

Please feel free to share this list and happy holidays everyone! May it be filled with joy, fun and games!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Talk like an Imagineer!

On a recent podcast, the hosts talked about needing a glossary of terms about Disneyland and theme park culture in particular. 

I poked around online, but didn't really find a list of terms to my own satisfaction - they were also either very "guest-centric" or just dumb - so I've created my own glossary which includes a healthy dose of Disneyland Imagineering lingo as well. 

DISNEY IMAGINEERING GLOSSARY

1401: Slang for 1401 Flower Street, the main Imagineering building.

A1: The original audio-animatronic model created in 1963 for the Enchanted Tiki Room attraction.

A100: An advanced audio-animatronic created in 1989 for the Great Movie Ride attraction.

ADA: Slang for anything that is associated with or conforms to the American Disabilities Act of 1990. ADA guidelines are always a consideration in the creation of attractions and experiences at Disneyland Park. Disabled guests are sometimes referred to as ADA guests.

AP/APer: Slang for annual passport holders. The use is not always complimentary as some AP's can be overly demanding or possessive of the park. An even more derogatory term is "Annual Passhole".



AUDIO-ANIMATRONIC: A robot "actor" used in Disneyland attractions, especially in dark rides.

AUTONOMOUS ANIMATRONIC: An audio-animatronic that can walk and operate independent of any other systems. First pioneered with Lucky the Dinosaur in 2003.

ATTRACTION: The term for a ride, show, or meet & greet that a guest can experience at Disneyland.

BACKSTAGE: The term for the operational side of Disneyland Park. The location of offices, facilities and warehouses, - i.e. place where guests are not meant to see as there is no theming or "magic" for them to experience.

The BERM: Originally, a literal dirt berm that circled Disneyland Park to prevent the guests from seeing the "outside world" while they enjoyed the park. as not to "break show". Show buildings and facilities were eventually built "Outside the Berm" as the park expanded.

BGM: Background music played throughout the park to help create theming.

BLUE BADGE/a BLUE: Slang for a full-time employee whose ID badge is blue in color. Contract employees are issued green badges and are sometimes referred to as "a Green Badge" which is not always meant as a complimentary term.

BLUE SKY BUILDING: An expansion added to 1401 Flower St. that houses the Blue Sky team - the Imagineers who dream up the attractions and experiences of Disneyland Park.

BLUE SKY DESIGN PROCESS/BLUE SKY: The Blue Sky Design Process is the term used to describe the "sky's the limit" creative storytelling process utilized by Imagineers. Blue Sky is the start of the process when creating an attraction or experience. These Blue Sky ideas are often pitched to fellow cast members using "boards".

BOARD: A large poster board on which concept art, wire-frames, blue-prints and other creative images are pinned. These boards are then presented to other Imagineers in meetings and presentations.

BOOK REPORT RIDE: A derogatory term for a dark ride that recreates scenes from a movie rather than presenting the material in an original way.

The BOWLING ALLEY: Imagineering offices that were originally a bowling alley. It houses WDI Labs and is the former home of DisneyVision's VR demo space.

CAST MEMBER (CM): The term used for a full-time employee of Disneyland and WDI.

CHARACTER: Cast members who wear costumes of famous Disney characters. There are two types of characters - "face" characters who are human in appearance and "fuzzy" characters who are usually animals. The cast members themselves do not refer to themselves as the character but rather as their "friend". (See "Friend") A restaurant or dining experience that features characters is often known as a "Character Meal".

CODE 101/101: Cast member code word for when an attraction is "down" or having mechanical difficulties. "Code 102" is the code word for when the attraction is working again.

CODE V: Cast member code word for vomit. (See "Protein Spill")

COSTUME: The outfit of a Cast Member, usually highly themed to the environment they work in. For example, the CMs who operate the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction wear pirate-themed costumes.

CONTRADICTION: A "contradiction" is created when something happens in the park that doesn't support the story of the land or attraction. For example, if Tomorrowland spaceman walks down the street of Frontierland or if two Goofys can be seen in the park by the same guest at the same time.

DARK RIDE: An attraction that is located primarily inside a show building, allowing for the Imagineers to control the lighting and create highly themed atmosphere, sets and environments. Dark rides will often use ultraviolet (UV) lighting to create distinctive visual effects. Dark rides often are scarily themed to take advantage of the controlled lighting and special effects. Disneyland dark rides often feature audio-animatronics and ride vehicle systems as the Omni-mover. Disneyland's origjnal Fantasyland dark rides (Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White's Scary Adventures and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) were designed to have the guest experience the attraction "in the shoes" of the main character, but this ended up confusing guests who wondered "where Peter Pan was". The titular characters were subsequently added into the attractions during the 1983 renovation.

The DISH: The Digital Immersive Showroom. A studio-sized environment that features projected images and is used to virtually simulate attractions and other experiences in order to solve problems in architecture, design, pacing, audio and visual effects.  

DISNEY LEGEND: A cast member whose contributions have significantly impacted the Walt Disney Company. Disney Legends who have contributed to the creation of theme parks are awarded with their names (also known as their "credits") painted onto a window on Main Street USA. The event to celebrate this is called a "Window Ceremony".

The DISNEY LOOK: A strictly enforced dress code that limits what cast members can wear and how they keep their hair and facial hair. The dress code was amended in 2000 to allow for mustaches. It was amended again in 2019 to allow for a more "rugged look" for the cast members working at Galaxy's Edge.


The DISNEY POINT: A two-finged hand-gesture used by all Disneyland Cast Members in place of a single-finger point - which is considered by some cultures to be rude and aggressive.

E-TICKET/E-TICKET RIDE: A term used to describe an exciting attraction. Originally, Disneyland guests bought individually priced "coupons" to ride attractions - much like you would at a county fair. The coupons were lettered A-D. They were eventually sold in a ticket-book packaged with park admission. In 1959, a more expensive (.85 cents) E-ticket was added to help pay for the new attractions (Matterhorn Bobsleds, Submarine Voyage into Liquid Space and the Monorail). Eventually, E-Ticket attractions included dark rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion and then thrill rides like Space Mountain - where it gained its reputation for standing for "fast" rides. The ticket system was discontinued in 1982 when the park moved to a "gate admission" system.

EYEWASH: The boldest imagining of an idea that an Imagineering can come up with during the Blue Sky process - often conceptualized in exacting and magnificent detail. For example, when "proving" the concept of a firefly effect for a prototype for an in-park experience, my team built a 16 foot artificial tree just to prove to management that the effect would look convincing.

FIGMENT: The small purple dragon who is the unofficial mascot of Disney Imagineering. First created by Tony Baxter and Steve Kirk for the Journey into Imagination attraction in 1983.

The FLOWER BUILDING: The Glendale location of WDI's offices, also known as the Disney Campus. The main building of the complex is located at 1401 Flower Street. It holds the offices of many Imagineers including the sound and video departments, upper management and the Blue Sky team.

"FRIEND": The term used by a character cast-member when referring to the character they portray. A female cast member will say she is "Sleeping Beauty's Friend" rather than say she is Sleeping Beauty. This helps reinforce the idea in the cast member's head that many actors and actresses will play these characters, not just you.

FOAMER: A derogatory term for a guest, especially one who is especially crazy for Disney and Disneyland. Often used to describe guests who camp out for events or will run in to buy park-exclusive merchandise.

The FOUR KEYS: These are the four essential principals that cast members are to follow to insure an exceptional experience for the guest. The four keys are: Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. Safety has the highest priority and then each key is considered in turn. Cast members are given a laminated card with the four keys printed on it when they are hired. Recently, a fifth key - Inclusion - was added.



FOUR KEYS CARD: A compliment card written to a cast member whenever a guest compliments them at guest relations. Considered a honor for the cast member.

GOODNIGHT KISS: A "magical" event that "caps off" the guest's experience in the park for the evening. The evening fireworks show is considered Disneyland's "goodnight kiss" to the guests.

GOOD SHOW: When theming, architecture, music, cast members, signage, and even food and smells help tell the story of the land or attraction to the guest. Anything that doesn't do this is called "Bad Show".

GRAND CENTRAL: Slang for the Grand Central Imagineering Campus, the group of buildings that sit adjacent to 1401 Flower St. Home to Disney Interactive and Disney Consumer Products.

GUEST: The Disney term for customer.

"HAVE A MAGICAL DAY": A "sign off" used by Disney Cast Members that can mean "goodbye", "thank you" or "go screw yourself" depending on the context it is being used. Sometimes comes off as being insincere or ironic depending on situation.

HUG & SHOVE: Sarcastic slang for a "meet & greet" where the guest briefly interacts with a character (usually by hugging them) and then are "shoved" away so the next guest in line can get their turn.

"IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT": The unofficial motto of Disney Imagineering. Taken from a quote by Walt Disney.

ILLUSIONEER: A specialized Imagineer who works in creating special effects and illusions.


IMAGINEER: The term used by Walt Disney to describe the concept artists, engineers, architects and other artists who helped design and build Disneyland Park and its attractions. Many of the original Imagineers were recruited from the animation studio. The term originated at the Alcoa Aluminum company in the 1950's.

LAND: An themed area of Disneyland Park. Opening day lands were Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. New Orleans Square, Bear Country (later renamed Critter Country), Mickey's Toontown and Galaxy's Edge were later additions.

LOAD/LOAD AREA: The area in an attraction where guests load in and out of ride vehicles. Often considered the most dangerous location of the attraction as it is the place where an accident could most likely occur.

MAGIC MORNING: An hour before official park opening available to Disneyland hotel guests.

MAPO: The Mary Poppins Building. Named in honor of the movie which earned Disney Studios enough money to expand WDI. It is holds the offices of Imagineers of all types including those who deal with material arts, engineering and Disney's international ventures.

MICKEY'S OF GLENDALE: The Imagineering company store located adjacent to the Flower Building. It sells an ever-changing selection of exclusive Imagineering merchandise, most which features Imagineering logos, imagery and the department's mascot, Sorcerer Mickey.

MOTION BASE/ON-VEHICLE MOTION BASE: A built-in hydraulic system that can move a ride vehicle while it is in motion. First developed for the Indiana Jones and the Forbidden Eye attraction in 1995.

MOUNTAIN: At Disneyland Park, mountains are known for having the "most thrilling" attractions in them. Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain all act as weenies for their respective lands.

OHRC: Operational Hourly Ride Capacity. The amount of guests that can ride an attraction in one hour. For example, the OHRC of the Haunted Mansion is 2880, while Peter Pan's Flight is 720. An attraction with a high OHRC is called a "people eater".

OMNIMOVER: A ride vehicle invented by Imagineer Bob Gurr and Arrow Development. It is (usually) a dome shaped car mounted to a constantly moving track. The OmniMover can be programmed to twist and rotate to focus the guest's attention at a specific location and the high-sides of the vehicle limit the guest's peripheral vision. The track can be stopped to allow ADA guests to board. The OmniMover was first used in the Monsanto Adventures thru Inner Space attraction in 1967.

ONSTAGE: The front-facing part of Disneyland accessible to the guests. While onstage, cast members must keep in character as not to create "bad show" or contradiction.

OPEN HOUSE: A week-long event in which all of the upper-management of all of the Walt Disney divisions are invited to Imagineering to see what new and exciting things they are developing. Open House usually takes place near the end of October and takes about a month, if not longer to prepare for. It is a high-stress time for Imagineers and often includes elaborate installations and scripted presentations. Often projects will live or die depending on how well they are received in Open House.

The PARK: The causal term for Disneyland Resort or more specifically, Disneyland Park. A guest who visits both parks (Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure) in one day (or over several days) uses a ticket called a "Park Hopper".

PLUSSING/PLUSSING UP: The term for improving something at Disneyland Park. It can be as simple as a repaint or as elaborate as a complete re-theming of attraction or land.

PROTEIN SPILL: Cast member codeword for vomit. Also known as "Code V".

QUEUE: Term for a line of people or the space reserved for guests to line up.

The RANCH: Slang for the Circle D Ranch. Part of the original ranch that stood on the orange grove on which Disneyland was built. It housed the 14 horses backstage at Disneyland Park. The ranch was removed from the park in 2017 and the horses were relocated to a new ranch facility in nearby Norco, CA.

RIDE: An old Disneyland joke. Q: How many rides are there in Disneyland? A: One. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. All the rest are attractions.

RIDE ENVELOPE: An imaginary space that is kept between the ride vehicle and an object or fixture in an attraction to avoid any injury to a guest. A wooden spacer is often mounted to a ride vehicle to help gauge the ride envelope whenever a change or addition is made.

RIDE-SWAP: A courtesy extended to guests that allow one family member to swap line positions with another in order to give both parents the opportunity to ride an attraction with their child. Often taken advantage of by guests with ADA family members or very young children who have to be watched while their older siblings go on the ride.

RIDE VEHICLE: A term for any vehicle used on an attraction. Some ride vehicles are also called a "train".

ROPE DROP: An event that happens every morning at Disneyland Park when guests are first allowed in. The rope drop is often accompanied with fanfare such as a band, characters and cast members who "high-five" guests as they rush into the park.

SCREEN RIDE: A sarcastic term for a dark ride that relies heavily on digital projection screens and lacks or features very few audio-animatronics.

SECOND GATE: A second theme park that is built next to an existing one. At Disneyland Resort, Disney's California Adventure is the second gate.

 
SERVICE PIN: An award given to a cast member who has worked at Disneyland Park for 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25+ years. The service pin is typically worn on the cast member's ID badge.

SHOW BUILDING: A warehouse-sized building that houses an attraction. Show building can be themed or unthemed depending on whether they are located in-front of or behind the berm. Show buildings that are behind the berm are painted "go-away green" as to not draw attention to them.

SINGLE RIDER: A separate queue for guests who want to ride an attraction alone. Often used as an "exploit" by experienced guests to avoid long waits in line.



SORCERER MICKEY: The official mascot of Imagineering. This version of Mickey Mouse waves a magic wand and wears red robes and a blue wizard's hat as first seen in the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment of 1940's Fantasia. This version appears on many Imagineering exclusive merchandise sold at Mickey's of Glendale.

STORY: Story is "king" at Imagineering. Everything is designed around story and storytelling.

THRC: Theoretical Hourly Ride Capacity. The amount of guests that can experience an attraction per hour. If the THRC estimate isn't high enough (in the low thousands) an attraction will not get made.


TRACKLESS RIDE SYSTEM: An attraction that utilizes a self-driving ride vehicle that can travel along a different path each time, giving the guest a different ride experience. First used in Pooh's Hunny Hunt attraction in 2000.

The TRAILER: The on-site base of operations of Imagineering at Disneyland. It held the offices of creative leads, project managers and other Imagineers who worked out of Disneyland. The trailer was located on the west-side of the park next to New Orleans Square.

TUBULAR STEEL: A circular steel rail that is used on many of Disneyland's roller-coasters. First used on the Matterhorn in 1959.

WARDROBE EXEMPT: A special consideration extended to Imagineering cast members (especially those working in creative fields) that do not require them to conform to the strictly enforced cast member dress code- known as the "Disney Look" - when working on-site.

WATER RIDE: An attraction that uses a boat as a ride vehicle. First used in the Motor Boat Cruise attraction in 1957.

WED ENTERPRISES: The original name of WDI, changed in 1986. WED stands for Walter Elias Disney.

WDI: Walt Disney Imagineering


WEENIE: A building or landmark that attracts a guest's eye and attention and influences their movement in that direction. Named after a trick used by canine actor's trainers who would wave a weenie (hot dog) in order to get the dogs attention and have them move to the off-screen trainer. Disneyland's Castle, mountains and land gateways are all considered weenies.

WHITE POWDER ALERT: Code word for when a cast member catches a guest who is emptying a loved one's cremated remains into an attraction. Supposedly, this is a common occurrence on the Haunted Mansion attraction. All remains dumped in this manner are vacuumed up.

WINDOW CEREMONY: A ceremony that is held when a cast member who has contributed to Disneyland's creation or development - usually an Imagineer - is promoted to the status of Disney Legend. The "credits" of the cast member are painted onto a window on Main Street USA. The Imagineer also receives a smaller version of the window as an award. This is the highest honor an Imagineer can receive.

Do you know of other Imagineering and Disneyland related terms not on this list? Please add them to the comments below!