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  • Gregg Maedo

MAGIC OF THE MOUSE: HOW THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH SHEDS LIGHT ON OUR NURSING HOME DESIGNS


“We use what we learn and experience from these unique Disney projects and apply the concepts and design elements into our healthcare projects.”


We are often asked how we reconcile our Entertainment Projects, mainly Disneyland work, with our dedication to our core Healthcare Projects. Our answer is simple: we use what we learn and experience from these unique Disney projects and apply the concepts and design elements into our healthcare projects.


While putting myself through architecture school, I worked at various jobs at Disneyland. I noted what I experienced each day while working at the park to incorporate the concepts into my design projects in school. Now, many, many years later, things have not changed. Our office still uses what we learn at Disney and apply it to our Nursing Home Designs. The metaphoric imagery used, the subtle sensory language spoken, and the subliminal messages of happiness conveyed are all extracted from our Disney work and translated into our Healthcare Designs.


Joy in Nursing Home Design

The fundamental concepts that shape good Nursing Home Design and good Disneyland Design are different. The priority and focus of good Healthcare Design is linked to an underlying understanding of medical support based on efficient function and technical execution. This focus is fundamentally different from that of Entertainment Design, where happiness, joy and fun dominate the essence. That said, we often see how Nursing Home Design becomes so focused on the absolute necessities of existence, and as a result we overlook that there is a life involved and living needs to occur. Our aim is to not forget this lesson and use the concepts learned and developed at Disney to fill in and expand upon those critical voids in Healthcare Design.

Our Unique Position

After completing many projects at Disneyland, we feel we are in a highly enviable position in the Healthcare field, as we have the opportunity to learn from the thousands of hours of research, experimentation and knowledge that the Disney team spends to create the magic of this unique atmosphere. The underlying design spirit of Disneyland is the creation of happiness, joy and excitement. Many elements contribute to this endeavor and make Disney “the happiest place on earth”.


One of the most unorthodox but arguably most effective strategies the Disney team implements in the execution of their projects is full-scale building. They know that the only way to truly experience the space and its design is to actually build it, to full size, and then make any necessary changes to it as the project develops dynamically in the field. We recognize that not all clients will have the resources or time to work in this fashion, but we understand that this is the best way to design, and strive to embrace this type of thought process.


Ironically, our Healthcare experience has helped us with our work at The Disneyland Resort (DLR) because Healthcare requires us to be strong in our technical expertise. In order to properly execute the complexities of Healthcare projects, we must have innate technical knowledge, and this same knowledge strongly supports our Disney projects. The projects at DLR are also often times highly technical, requiring us to manage and understand complex systems, special effects, robotics, and cutting edge technology amongst other systems to properly coordinate a project. Ultimately, it is the work we do with their very talented design team, Walt Disney Imagineers, that provides the “magic” to the projects and the creation of the elements that we seek to transfer to our work.


As we reflect back on our unique experiences of working in the Healthcare and Disneyland fields simultaneously, it amazes us how two fields that seem so completely different and independent of each other can be so complimentary and mutually supportive. Disney serves the Healthcare field well as it provides many of the aspects that are so often missing in Healthcare.