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Thursday, October 6 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Deconstructing Disneyland': An Experiment in Theme Park-Based Media Literacy Education

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A group of undergraduate students, university faculty and creative professionals at BYU are partnering to create a mobile app-based Alternate Reality Game that allows visitors to Disneyland to critically engage with (while still enjoying) the popular theme park. Users will go on scavenger hunts (using GPS technologies), uncover obscure and sometimes alarming elements of the park's design and history (using augment reality), and follow a fictional narrative which encourages them to take a closer, more critical, look at the park, its design, economics, ideology and history.

The app fills what we see as a gap in the field of media literacy education. For the last few decades, scholars and educators have developed theories and pedagogies to help students, and the public, to more critically engage with the media that surrounds "themed”movies and music, television and advertisements, games, social media and the internet. However, little effort has been made to see how these perspectives might be applied to place-based media experiences (like theme parks). Also, media education is often limited to particular contexts and populations classrooms and youth programs. The app gamifies the theme park experience, and in so doing invites a broader public to critically engage with Disneyland.

The app and accompanying research project draw upon analyses of Disneyland (Baudrillard, Marin), cultural and institutional critiques of Disney (Wasko, Giroux), and critical (and creative) explorations of public spaces (Benjamin, Whitman). The presentation will discuss these theoretical foundations, describe the ARG, and demonstrate some gameplay elements.


Brent Barson

Associate Professor, Brigham Young University

Jeff Parkin

Professor, Brigham Young University

Thursday October 6, 2016 4:00pm - 4:30pm PDT
Emerald Bay A