Reimagining the Guest Room Experience:
Sponsored Collaboration with Disney Imagineering R+D


Walt Disney Imagineering Group

SCAD collaborated with the Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development team to gain insight and design concepts to improve the Guest Room Experience within Disney Resorts, including both services and entertainment, focusing on the use of technology. Our team visited several resorts and hotels in Disney world, conducted research on past and current guests, and cocreated some concepts with the team at Disney to test the boundaries of the existing infrastructure.

Research artifcats, Service Design concepts and storyboards, physical prototypes, final animated presentation

My Role: 
User research, service design, writing, concept sketching, physical prototyping

Ana Soto, Evan Smith, Kenzie Chen, Madi Burke, Maria De La Vega, Rachael DeMeyer, Dejen Bosk, Echo Qi, Emily Mueller, Steph Krell, Ava Bernacki, Mengying Chen, Jialong Wang, Abhinav Narain, Momo Chen, Xiopeng Shen

Lessons Learned:
Large teams call for large meeting spaces (and lots of snacks), teamwork makes the dream work, the user (Guest) is the magic.

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 1.33.13 PM
Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.50.27 AM

SCAD collaborated with the Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development team to research and develop design concepts to improve the Guest Room Experience within Disney Resorts, including both services and entertainment, focusing on the use of technology. The Disney partners posed the question:
If we were inventing the concept of a Disney themed resort using up and coming technology, how would this experience look and feel?

This challenge was matched with the reminder to design and deliver with a deep understanding of the Disney Guest and to make great places, create experiences, and tell stories. 

Process + Research



As part of the Research and Mapping Team, I worked with a group of students from diverse backgrounds in Service Design, Design Management, and Interactive Game Design. We ultimately acquired primary research from touring three Disney Resort hotels in Orlando, Florida, conducted ten Guest and Cast Member interviews, and launched a survey regarding the Disney vacation experience. Additional secondary research explored the nature of living spaces, hotel industry trends, technology, and The Walt Disney Company. After affinitizing the data collected, the team created a series of Human Centered design tools to map out various elements of the Guest’s journey and established a collection of ten major insights from our findings. 

Primary research allowed the team to identify different types of Guests that visit Walt Disney World Resorts. By using a bipolar opposites matrix (below) we were able to map extreme personality traits, motivations, age groups, and budgets to create 4 different personas. A context was developed for each one to better understand the motivations behind their visit to Walt Disney World Resorts.

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.57.18 AM
Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.59.37 AM
Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 1.37.32 PM

During this phase of the project, I was largely conducting interviews, synthesizing findings, and working with my team to develop research artifacts for our client, such as the encounter map (right) and various blueprints for different persona groups. We ultimarely worked together to develop a "mode map" for guests.

The team determined that our final solutions should be geared towards the typical family that stays in a Disney Resort - two parents and two children, ages 6 and 10. To move forward with this approach, the research team created a new archetypal family persona to target when crafting new and refining existing concepts.

The Research Team continued by mapping which Mode each family member might enter during their actions in the room so that final concepts could be catered towards encouraging these transitions, based on Guest needs and desires.

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 1.00.52 PM
Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 12.02.48 PM
ModesMap copy
Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 12.06.24 PM

After mapping the experience and synthesizing our findings, we eestablished ten final insights that drove our conceept development. Above all, we realized that Disney can cater towards individual needs, wants, desires, and rise above the rest in terms of pushing the boundaries of modern customer service with new technology, but ultimately:  the Guest is the magic. Final concepts were designed after understanding how Disney magic could manifest itself within a Guest room experience, as well as how the Guests could be that magic’s driving force.

Final Concepts

At Midterm, Disney Resorts directed the team to hone in on two main areas of focus: projection mapping technology and the physical zoning of the room. I was part of the final "Zoning" Team that created final concepts that focused on the behavioral Modes that Guests enter and exit through out their stay, with the use of technology and modern materials. 

Upon understanding and analyzing how a space can be divided and zoned in these case studies, the team began to sketch and ideate new concepts--concepts that achieved the application of zoning the room, while also emphasizing the team’s intended narrative:  “The Guest is the magic in the room.” 

Outside of initial conceptualizing and brainstorming ideas, refining solutions, and researching materials, I was responsible for all of the final concept sketches and was part of the prototyping team that built a to-scale model of a Resort room to prototype the possibilities of the Modular Block concept, as well as explore how Guest data from their Magic Bands through out the day could be integrated into the House Keeping system within the resort, to have the room better cater to the needs of each Guest after whatever story their day told. 

Below are some of my favorite concept sketches we printed as posters for our final presentation and client meeting.

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 12.02.29 PM
Version 2

Our final meeting with Disney featured live demos of our prototypes, and a projection mapped presentation walking through some of our concepts. Every member of our team got to play the role of both Cast Members and Guests in the show, which was animated and directed by the lovely Rachel DeMeyer. Throughout the end of this project, I helped write and edit content across all of our assets, from final concept sketches to the script of our presentation. This project was my first experience working for a professional client as well as working with a team larger than 10 people. Though it took a tole on all of our personal lives time-wise, getting to know and collaborate with this group of students and the Disney Imagineering team that sponsored our work was nothing short of ✨magical✨.

Other Projects

Sutherland LabsService Design, Research, Consulting

Data Science Experience LocalEnterprise Software

IBM QInteractive Experience

Disney + SCADService Concept

Find me: 
LinkedIn / Medium / Instagram 

Reach me:

© 2020 Polly Adams - All Rights Reserved.