The art and science of immersive entertainment illusions engage all the senses in every direction and dimension. The theme park is an extreme example of immersive entertainment, wherein experiential entertainment designers and scenario authors project the audience into an experienced reality, whether actual or imagined. It is unparalleled by other forms of entertainment because it can sustain this illusion for thousands of people for a few minutes, a full day, or even a week. With that amount of scrutiny, theme parks present a challenge in integrating computer-generated content for experiential entertainment. Seamlessly blending the physical reality and the author's virtual fantasy is critical in creating a successful audience experience. This illusion is only effective when the author can engage and direct the audience's imaginary reality.
We apply our experience and research in theme parks and simulation to describe where science meets fiction in dissolving the boundaries between the scenario author's intended fantasy and the inescapable reality of the real world as well as the merging of computer-generated media within experiential entertainment venues. These practices provide insight into past and current research in mixed and augmented reality, which evolved from thousands of years of experiential entertainment.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ILLUSION
Experiential entertainment venues, the most extensive of which are usually referred to as "theme parks," go beyond mere visual ornamentation to create an engaging fantasy experience. Scenario authors design the experience"s proximity and immersion to immediately engage the whole body and all the senses. This challenge—and opportunity—separates this art form from most other forms of entertainment. To be successful, experience designers need to engulf the entire audience in a live event and enlist their participation in a shared, imagined reality.