Yun Enya Huang’s themed entertainment journey
SCAD student Yun Enya Huang (M.F.A., themed entertainment design) is, in her own words, an “emotional journey designer.” Merging attraction design, themed interior design, and project management, she strives to create “happiness and memories for people individually, as well as with their families and friends.” From Foshan, China, Enya’s ride is ongoing.
Yun Enya Huang:
I’m in my second year in the themed entertainment design (THED) graduate program at SCAD. Since I began this journey, I have had internship experiences with both Walt Disney Imagineering and Universal Creative, and my appetite for this amazing field continues to grow. While my path towards my goal hasn’t been straightforward, my focus on education and networking has been fruitful. It’s like a “dark ride” at a theme park. There are unexpected but exciting moments.
As my “dark ride” continues, I have written a few suggestions for fellow SCAD students on how to take advantage of the opportunities available to you.
- Expand your curriculum as much as possible. When I took an elective sound design class, it opened a new world of the aesthetics of sound that I am able to apply to my work in themed entertainment.
- Work on projects outside of class so your portfolio and resume stand out. One of the projects I am often asked about in interviews is my volunteering for TEDxSavannah doing set design.
- Craft your story and link it to your portfolio. I consistently consult with my SCAD Career Adviser and visit the Writers’ Studio at Jen Library for help with pitching, mock interviews, and honing my portfolio and artist statement.
- Maximize your resources and cultivate connections. TEA and TEA NextGen are great platforms to meet people in different professions and begin networking in this industry. I try to attend IAAPA Orlando every year; it’s the best way to keep track of new trends with the industry, as well as vendors in different areas
- Be brave! Know that the journey will always move you forward.
At SCAD I’ve been fortunate to learn from two THED legends: professors George Head and Mike Devine. During an intro class with professor Head, a former Walt Disney Imagineer, I fell in love with guiding audiences through narrative spaces and creating experiences that impact guests not only in theme parks during the experience, but in daily life after the experience. To design and innovate spaces and experiences, how fun!
To design and innovate spaces and experiences, how fun!
My class with professor Devine was about designing haunted houses. Before the class, I was scared of horror movies and haunted houses. Once the project kicked off, I started to learn the psychology behind building peak moments and how to design sound, lighting, and special effects to create thrilling experiences.
I’m taking an unusual path in my career preparation, taking several quarters away from SCAD to complete professional internships. I am currently interning with Universal Creative as show set designer for attractions and area development. When I graduate, it will have taken about four years to earn my master’s degree, but I’ll have over 18 months of valuable work experience.
As a young international professional, collaboration and communication are part of my essential skill. When I join a team that doesn’t have a themed entertainment background, I serve as leading designer as well as an “educator” of the THED mindset for both teammates and client. Significant work goes towards coordination and translation across multiple time zones. My goal is to present myself as a professional and communicate confidence.
During this global pandemic, I am learning from the challenges by taking the initiative and being self-reliant. At the same time, the circumstances present me an opportunity for growth, as more and more collaborative projects across time zones and countries are happening.
See more of Enya’s work at her website.
A version of this article first appeared in InPark Magazine.
Photo: Dylan Wilson.