When I designed Snoopy Studios (called Peanuts Studios in early concept) for Universal Studios, Japan, I wanted to ensure that the area would be kid-friendly. By putting the majority of the elements indoors, into a soundstage, I could include things that couldn’t work outdoors.
The indoor environment also offered limitations that worked in my favor. The original outdoor rollercoaster design was most challenging. It would likely have excluded the same guests most interested in the characters: small children and their grandparents. Once the attraction was moved indoors only a kiddy-coaster would fit. Although the thrills are mild the speed actually seems greater indoors (it’s the close proximity to nearby walls and objects that causes the illusion).
The Charles Shultz comic strip has no environments to work from, but it does have a distinctive drawing style. It was easy to translate this style onto backdrops and comic set pieces in an indoor environment.
Also indoors it is easier to create challenging interactive games. Video monitors don’t work well outdoors. But we didn’t rely solely upon video monitors anyway. Our studio needed a number of studio departments. A Music Department was created that offered interactive musical instruments. An Art Department would allow guests to color Peanuts characters. Guests could control Special Effects over at Charlie Brown’s house. And tired guests could sit back and enjoy Peanuts cartoons at the Screening Room while others burned off energy playing in Spike’s Western Town.
I really enjoyed designing and working on Snoopy Studios. This was a great project, but I had another great project offer too.