Theme parks are all about environments and how the guests view and interact with them. Charles Shultz’s Peanuts comic strip, although terribly witty, is all about ideas and characters. There are no environments in the Peanuts world save Snoopy’s doghouse. And given the fact that Snoopy is so often pictured sleeping on the crest of the gable, even this element is depicted more two-dimensional than three-dimensional.
When I was given the task of designing Snoopy Studios (called Peanuts Studios in early concept) for Universal Studios, Japan I needed to find a way to solve the environment problem. By putting the main show indoors it could become a comic outdoors. This controlled environment would allow for many more opportunities.
From the start the plan was to theme the area as a studio. I took the idea to its furthest extreme. The main attraction and the retail location would be designed as soundstages. In the remaining outdoor area the program called for a waterslide attraction. For a studio this area became a Water Stunt Slide apparently rigged onto the studio water tower.
Next to this I designed a very simple (small-kid-friendly) hedge maze. Within it I included the Great Pumpkin patch. This area became the studio Greens Department. At the end of the maze was a greenhouse filled with a number of appropriately themed interactive amusements. The greenhouse was carefully situated so that it could be utilized separately of the maze on inclement days.
Greeting guests to the area was a Snoopy fountain and a Studio arch. The new plan added a sense of place to the area as well as improving guest flow.