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university of central florida
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This Florida University offers a degree that allows fans of rides & attractions to design the queues for the experiences

This week, ten students at an Orlando-area university will graduate with a Master’s Degree in designing the queues for attractions like those at Disney World and Universal Orlando. Eight of the graduates have already been hired at theme parks in the Orlando area.

university of central florida

Credit: UCF

(Well, actually, the degree has a slightly more formal name than that.)

The University of Central Florida has a new degree program designed for designers. But the new Master’s Degree track at the University of Central Florida isn’t for just any type of designer. It’s designed specifically for those who love theme park attractions–and more importantly, the story behind the attractions.

The Orlando, Florida area is home to a myriad of amusement parks, theme parks, theme park resorts, like Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Sea World, as well as smaller family entertainment venues that draw tourists from all over the country.

universal studios globe on lake

Credit: Universal Studios

The Walt Disney World Resort hosts tourists from every part of the United States and from around the globe. Central Florida‘s many offerings make the area one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country, and the Walt Disney World Resort is one of the most popular family vacation destinations on earth.

After all, it is the Most Magical Place on Earth.

The University of Central Florida offers more than 220 degree programs, and the newest is perfect for those who love the excitement of theme parks like Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and credit the ability to be fully immersed in the story behind the attraction with a big part of that excitement.

Na'vi River Journey - Wikipedia

The Shaman of Songs at the Na’vi River Journey attraction/Credit: Disney

The University of Central Florida has begun a new degree track aimed at training “the next generation of designers.” The track is called the Master’s of Fine Arts in Theatre, Themed Experience.

Rather than students designing the theme park rides, students in the new program learn to design the areas of the attraction before the ride experience. For example, the program might prepare students for work designing an area like the hotel lobby at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at Disney World‘s Hollywood Studios.

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Credit: Disney Parks

Per the University of Central Florida website:

The Master of Fine Arts in Theatre, Themed Experience track prepares students to be the next generation of creative leaders in the themed experience industry. The program teaches the unique creative and production skills, process and concepts utilized to design and produce themed environments such as theme parks, zoos, aquariums, themed retail, dining, museums, virtual worlds and exhibitions.

Pulling from the strength and diversity of UCF’s School of Performing Arts and from the direct connection to leaders in the field, this unique program takes advantage of the university’s ideal location in Orlando, the international hub of the themed entertainment industry.

Themed Experience track graduates will be qualified to work as an art director, show producer, designer, production artist, or creative executive for the production of themed experiences. Many graduates may work directly for theme parks, but others will find employment in exciting and innovative specialty firms producing industry-related items like custom rides, exhibitions, retail, theatrical experiences, effects, events, and museum exhibits, as well as for companies that provide support and services for the themed experience industry.

university of central florida

Credit: UCF.edu

Disney does many things well, but perhaps the thing they do best is telling stories. Storytelling is at the heart of everything Disney does, and nowhere is that more obvious and tangible than in attractions at Disney Parks.

Pre-attraction Guest areas, often called queues at Disney World, are important in themed attractions and themed entertainment. Not only do they usually house the queue or the line of Guests waiting to experience the respective attractions, but they also begin to tell the story of the attraction or ride, setting the story into motion.

“Orlando is the international hub of the themed entertainment industry. Disney’s Imagineering is coming here. Smaller firms are opening offices. Universal Creative is already here, so thousands of jobs are opening up,” said UCF Professor Peter Weishar. “This is where you go. This is why we started the program here at UCF.”

The University of Central Florida‘s program is three years in duration.

Student Jordan Zauha first became fond of live entertainment as a child when he visited Magic Kingdom for the very first time. When he enrolled in the program, he had already earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

“The pandemic impacted the live event industry [at] theme parks,” Zauha said. “We are ready for themed experiences to be the heart of everything we do. Even [in] retail, people want a shopping experience now. I’m excited to be at the ground floor at UCF of something that I think [will be] common place in the future.”

UCF looks to grow the program to as many as 90 students between the two themed experience degree tracks offered at the university over the next few years.

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Credit: TemporaryTourist

From the University of Central Florida website:

Founded in 1963 to fuel the region’s talent pipeline and support the growing U.S. space program, UCF is built to make a better future for our students and society. It’s one of the reasons U.S. News & World Report ranks UCF among the nation’s top 20 most innovative colleges, while Forbes, Kiplinger and The Princeton Review rank us a best-value university.

As a leading metropolitan research university in Florida, we are driven to do more and be more. We believe success can only happen when we expand opportunity and demand excellence. We believe if there’s a better way, we should do it. We believe innovation comes from the meeting of diverse viewpoints. And when more people unleash their full potential, anything is possible.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!