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Image: Disney

It surprises people sometimes when I say this, but Disney parks can be an amazingly refreshing place for creative souls.

Where others may simply see rides, crowds, and spectacle, creatives see places like Disneyland and Walt Disney World differently. A trip to a Disney park is an invitation to another world. It’s an opportunity to forget the battering distractions of day to day life and just dream. It’s a place where we’re free to get lost, let our minds drift, to contemplate stories and worlds and ideas difficult to pin down on an average day. Speaking for myself, it’s such a stimulating environment for creativity that I rarely leave a Disney park without some sort of inspiration, new creative concept, or idea to solve a longstanding problem. It’s a place where everyone is invited to think outside of the box a little bit.

There are so many ways to use a trip to Disney parks to hack your creativity. Here are a few of the best tips we found…

1. Get lost in the stories

Viking statue at Norway in Epcot
Image: Disney

Theming and storytelling is one of the most significant areas that sets Disney parks apart from their competition. It’s not enough to just make a ride—at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, everywhere you look, stories are being told.

Some tales at Disney parks are familiar, like those told in Fantasyland. Others are hybrids of new tales in known worlds, like those surrounding Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or the World of Pandora. Others are entirely original, like the mystery of the Yeti on Expedition: Everest. Creatives practice many mediums, but we all share a common thread of storytelling in one way or another, and we can glean inspiration from stories told around us.

On your next Disney parks visit, really pay close attention to the stories around you. Disney imagineers don’t put hardly anything in the parks by accident. Lands and rides are both filled with clues hinting at the larger story taking place. Beyond even just taking in these stories, fill in the gaps in the world in your mind. What other tales might have taken place here? Use rides and Disney’s vivid environments to flex your imagination and cultivate new ideas.

2. Make believe again

Kid dressed as X-Wing Pilot meets Chewbacca
Image: Disney

You don’t have to be a child or a LARPer to make believe—indeed, you don’t even have to make a fuss to do it. As you’re taking in the stories in Disney parks, give yourself permission to make believe again.

If you were a character in these stories, what would you do? Who would you be? What is your part in this adventure? Your imaginary tale can remain entirely in your head in most cases (many creative introverts tend to trend towards this kind of quiet dreaming), but there are some opportunities where you can even try your hands at a little role-play if you like.

Role-play is an intimidating word, but it’s really just storytelling on an improvised level—actors do it all the time. The best place to try it is definitely Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge due to the ultra-immersive nature of the land. Cast members at The Black Spire Outpost actually keep things pretty subtle, which is great for those who want to pretend to be “in world” without things being too weird. When cast members or characters converse with you, just respond like you’re a visitor on Batuu from another planet and see where the conversation goes.

You can even take things a step further and try out “Batuu-bounding”—basically, guests visiting The Black Spire Outpost are allowed to dress up a little bit like you belong in the world (see our article on the practice for Disney’s rules). It’s a quiet hint to cast members that you’re game to play a little pretend, and we’ve had some great encounters with cast members in Dok Ondar’s, Docking Bay 7, Oga’s Cantina, and even with characters like stormtroopers and Vi Moradi while doing this. We always leave with new ideas, and it can make for some serious extra fun during your Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge visit.

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