I have just returned from a trip to Walt Disney World and spent 12 hours one day in Disney's Hollywood Studios trying to ride Rise of The Resistance. Firstly if you had told me six months ago that I would be doing that I would have laughed. Even the suggestion that you could spend more than 6 hours at Hollywood Studios would have involved lots of eye rolling and head shaking. Now I have done it twice, once on New Years Day (Boarding Group 46 - rode at 10:14 am) and once last week (Boarding Group 52 - rode at 5:45 pm). Why did I get up at dawn to be in a crush of people at 6 am to then stand around and wait until exactly 7 am to play boarding group roulette on my iPhone? My answer is the immersive setting.
The story element of setting is the foundation that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is built on. A story’s settling helps create the mood of a story, often causing an emotional response. In a book it allows your reader to visualize and experience the story. In a theme park ride it allows a movie that was hours long to be told in minutes. This makes Walt Disney World the perfect place to teach the story element of setting.
Black Spire Outpost in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios is a great place to start the conversation about settling with students. Simply choose a spot in the land. Have your student take a couple of minutes to have a close look around the area. This technique of "Close Looking" borrowed from the art world is very similar to the activity of close reading which many students are familiar with. Asking questions like: What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What makes you believe that you are on Batuu? Disney has added so much detail to the physical land and even added sounds to immerse you into the story. Next, if you are lucky enough to ride Rise of the Resistance, have a conversation after about the change of setting and how this made the experience on the ride so immersive.
Doing this activity in the land will provide you with an experiential reference point. It is a simple yet powerful way for your student to connect with the importance of setting when you are home and doing a more in depth study of setting within short stories, novels, and movies.
In my next post I will look at how to examine setting with younger children and provide a printable guide for studying setting in the Magic Kingdom.