What is a Themed Environment

At IDS, we live and breathe environmental theming, and we understand that this concept might be new to some. That’s why we’re here to shed some light on the magic behind it. Themed environments are the beating heart of immersive entertainment, enveloping guests in meticulously crafted settings that elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary. Whether it’s a wizarding world, a tropical paradise, or a futuristic cityscape, themed environments come to life with astounding realism and creativity.

We’re here to answer the most common questions about theming. Welcome to a world where fantasy meets reality, where every detail is designed to transport you into stories and experiences beyond your wildest dreams!

What Exactly is a Themed Environment?

A themed environment is a specialized area designed to create an immersive experience through detailed storytelling and design. These spaces are often part of amusement parks, museums, restaurants, retail stores, and even educational settings. The key to their magic lies in their ability to engage all the senses, using architecture, technology, light, sound, and even scent to create a cohesive and captivating world.

How Do Themed Environments Elevate Experiences

  1. Storytelling Through Design: Every element in a themed environment contributes to the narrative. Designers use decor, music, and even employee costumes to reinforce the theme and enhance the story being told. This attention to detail ensures that guests are not merely observers but active participants in the narrative unfolding around them.
  2. Emotional Engagement: Themed environments are designed to evoke specific emotions and reactions. Whether it’s the thrill of adventure in a pirate’s cove or the awe of a starlit galaxy far, far away, these spaces use their themes to connect on an emotional level, creating memories that last a lifetime.
  3. Educational Opportunities: Many themed environments are more than just entertainment. They are educational powerhouses that engage children and adults alike in learning through interactive exhibits and themed storytelling, making education a thrilling adventure.
  4. Enhanced Branding: For businesses, themed environments are an excellent tool for branding and customer engagement. They transform traditional business models by turning spaces into unique brand experiences that communicate identity and values in a memorable way.

What are Examples of Themed Environments

  • Theme Parks: Places like Disneyland and Universal Studios are iconic examples of themed environments where every ride, shop, and restaurant serves to enhance the overall theme of adventure and fantasy.

  • Retail Stores: Certain flagship stores use themed designs to enhance shopping experiences. For instance, the Discovery Hut is a game and toy store with a jungle adventure theme. Every location has a jungle facade that carries through the interior.

  • Restaurants and Cafes: Themed dining experiences are increasingly popular, offering not just food but an escape into another world. Speakeasy-style bars and restaurants draw on the prohibition period for their decor and styling. A candy shop that is themed to look like it is made out of candy is a great example of an immersive theme.

  • Hotels and Restort: By creating themed rooms, suites, and common areas, hotels can offer unique experiences that cater to guests’ imaginations and preferences. A lodge with a nature theme is a basic example. The Fantasyland Hotel at the famous West Edmonton Mall is the perfect example of a hotel using theming as a selling feature.

  • Exhibits and Museums: Museums often utilize themed environments to showcase exhibits. A dinosaur exhibit, for instance, might recreate prehistoric environments, complete with sounds, vegetation, and, of course, giant dinosaurs to transport visitors back in time.

  • Dental Offices with Children’s Theming: Pediatric dental practices are transforming the way young patients see visits to the dentist through themed environments. A pirate-themed dental office, for example, can make a child feel like they’re on an adventure, easing anxiety and making dental care fun.

  • Children’s Areas in Churches: Many churches create themed areas for their younger congregants to make religious education more engaging. These might include Noah’s Ark-inspired play areas or Bible story-themed rooms, helping children learn through play and storytelling.

  • Children’s Libraries: Libraries are adopting themes to make reading more enticing for kids. From enchanted forests to space stations, these themes help ignite the imaginations of young readers, making every book an adventure waiting to happen.

  • Hospital Pediatric Wards: Hospitals are increasingly turning to themed environments to make their pediatric wards less intimidating for children. Themes such as superhero cities or underwater adventures can make a hospital stay less frightening and more intriguing for young patients.

Who Creates the Magic Behind the Scenes

Creating a themed environment is a multidisciplinary endeavor involving architects, designers, artists, engineers, and storytellers. Technology plays a crucial role, with modern advancements like soundscapes and immersive lighting effects pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in creating deeply immersive experiences.

At IDS, we specialize in bringing these fantastical worlds to life. Our team of expert designers, architects, and storytellers work collaboratively to transform your space into a captivating themed environment that meets your specific needs. From concept to completion, we handle every aspect of the project, ensuring that each detail is meticulously crafted to create an immersive and engaging experience. Whether you are looking to enhance a retail space, a hospital pediatric ward, or any other child-friendly area, we are here to turn your vision into reality.

The Magic of Themed Environments

Themed environments are not just about seeing a new world; they’re about feeling and experiencing it firsthand. They remind us that with a little creativity and lots of dedication, the line between reality and imagination can blur beautifully. Whether for fun, education, or brand engagement, themed environments offer a unique way to experience stories in a way that engages, educates, and entertains.

So next time you step into a themed space, take a moment to appreciate the incredible artistry and effort that goes into creating these magical worlds!

Want some more inspiration on themed environments?

How Exterior Theming Can Draw Visitors to Your Tourist Attraction

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Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to discover how to promote your business with a themed environment.



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The Magic of Parade Floats: Types and Benefits

Parades have long been a cherished part of celebrations and cultural events worldwide. They evoke a sense of excitement, bringing communities together to celebrate special occasions and traditions. At the heart of these parades are the captivating parade floats, which not only add a touch of grandeur but also tell stories, promote businesses, and entertain the crowd.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the various types of parade floats and dive into the many benefits they bring to parades of all kinds.

Types of Parade Floats

Push Floats (or Manually-Powered Floats):

Push floats are typically moved manually by a group of people who push or pull the float along the parade route. These floats are a cost-effective option since they don’t require a vehicle for propulsion.

Car-Driven Floats:

Car-driven floats are built on a vehicle chassis, such as a truck or trailer, which provides the power and mobility needed to move the float. The vehicle is often concealed within the float’s design. Car-driven floats are versatile and can accommodate larger and more elaborate designs. They can also move at a consistent speed, allowing for precise synchronization with performances or other elements of the parade.

Towed Floats:

Towed floats are not equipped with their own built-in propulsion systems like engines or motors. Instead, they are towed or pulled along the parade route by a separate towing vehicle, such as a truck or tractor. These types of flaots can be quite large, built on a flatbed trailer or other platform.

Floats with Performers:

Floats that host live performers, such as dancers, musicians, or actors, offer a dynamic and interactive element to the parade. These floats not only engage the audience but also elevate the entertainment factor, turning the parade into a spectacular show. They include specialty safety equipment or seatbelts to secure people to the platform.

The Benefits of Parade Floats

  • Visual Impact: Parade floats have an undeniable visual impact. Their vibrant colors, impressive designs, and thematic elements capture the audience’s attention, making them a memorable part of any parade.
  • Storytelling: Floats are powerful storytellers. They convey stories, cultural heritage, and brand messages effectively, creating a connection with the audience.
  • Community Engagement: Parade floats provide opportunities for community involvement. They foster a sense of unity and pride as individuals and groups come together to create and showcase their floats.
  • Advertising and Promotion: For businesses and organizations, parade floats serve as effective marketing tools. They reach a wider audience and promote products, services, or causes in a fun and engaging way.
  • Entertainment Value: Above all, parade floats contribute to the overall entertainment of the parade. Their creativity, performances, and captivating presence add to the festive atmosphere, ensuring that everyone has a good time.

We recieved a million likes both here and internationally from our social posts promoting our parade float. Unbelievable!

– Leader feedback from the Nigerian Canadian Association of Calgary

Tips for Creating a Successful Parade Float

  • Planning and Theme Selection: Choose a compelling theme that resonates with your audience and your brand.
  • Budgeting and Resource Management: Consider your budget and explore cost-effective ways to source materials and support for your float project. Allocating marketing budgets and fundraising can go a long way to making your float a reality.
  • Design and Construction: Find an experienced company that can guide you through the build process – Imagination Design Studios has been building floats for 30 years!
  • Safety and Regulations: Adhere to safety guidelines and parade regulations to ensure the well-being of participants and spectators.
  • Promotion and Participation: Promote your participation in the parade and engage the community to make your float a memorable part of the event. Get your float all over social media! Show off the build process and build momentum.

Parade Floats Are Great for Business

Parade floats are the heart and soul of parades, adding enchantment, storytelling, and entertainment to these celebratory events. Floats play a vital role in creating memorable experiences for communities around the world.

So next time you attend a parade, take a moment to appreciate the magic and creativity that parade floats bring to the festivities.

Want some more inspiration for promoting your town or business?

How Exterior Theming Can Draw Visitors to Your Tourist Attraction

4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

Playful Photo Op Inspiration

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to discover how to promote your business with a parade float.



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4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

With the lasting effects of the pandemic on the tourism industry, it is more important than ever to find ways to attract visitors to your town. However, competing with big cities and their many venues of entertainment can make it difficult to keep up.

But what if there was a way to draw in tourists and locals alike? What if you could create something that would make people want to seek out your town? What if you could get on the map?

There is a way, and that is by creating and promoting a roadside attraction! Have you seen the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation? If you have, then you remember Chevy Chase promising his family that they will soon see the world’s second-largest ball of twine. The movie is fiction, but roadside attractions like that are real and do in fact increase tourism.

An attraction can be something like a “World’s Largest…”, a historic site, or a photo op for families to pose with.

By having a roadside attraction within your town, you are creating a focal point for your town’s marketing efforts. A roadside attraction can create buzz around your city, improve your online platform’s performance, develop your town’s economy, and solidify your town’s identity amongst the people.

4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Roadside Attraction in Your Town

1. Attractions Create Buzz and Conversations That Increase Tourism

Having a roadside attraction gives a reason for tourists to not miss your town.

With tourists already on the road and wanting to venture through the country, a roadside attraction can be another destination they’ll add to the list of places to stop. How often can one say they’ve seen a 40ft gorilla, a giant pierogi, or the “World’s Largest Wagon Wheel and Pick Axe”? These are just a few examples of large-scale landmarks that can be found across America.

Giant pines cones at the center of town.

If you’re curious to see more examples of large-scale landmarks created by IDS, click here.

Hearing about these unique landmarks can create buzz and entice tourists to stop by your town. Not to mention that you are providing your tourists with a unique conversation starter that they can share with family, friends, or even other travelers on their journey. This word of mouth can create organic traffic for travelers to come to visit your town, and once they do, you’ll be able to showcase the local businesses and culture that your town is known for.

By having a roadside attraction, you are also giving opportunity for your town’s economy to grow, more on that later.

Bonus Tip: Get Listed in Directories

There are directories, from Wikipedia to travel websites, that list must-see attractions, including those places with “The World’s Largest” sculptures that make it easy for travelers to plan road trips. Making sure your community is listed on these directories is an easy way to get attention.

2. Attractions Create an Organic Social Media Tool for Your Town

Nowadays, posting on social media is key to growing awareness for anything, whether it be businesses, people, cities, or towns. Having a unique landmark that can only be found in your area can provide a memorable photo opportunity for tourists to use and post on social media. This in turn can become an organic way for your town to market itself and grow its online presence. You can even encourage visitors to use a hashtag to help keep track of any photos posted on social media.

Think of the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. You most likely didn’t have to google where you can find those landmarks because their symbol is so closely tied to that city. Especially with today’s social media climate, all it takes is one photo of your attraction to go viral and draw the attention of potential visitors.

If you’re really eager about how to maximize the photo potential of your roadside attraction, you can provide fun, personalized photos of your tourists when they come to visit your location – think of photos that they provide at theme parks, national parks, and gift shops.

Family posing in the grip of a giant gorilla photo opportunity character.

3. Attractions Help Develop Your Town’s Economy

As mentioned earlier, having a roadside attraction can help boost your town’s economy. An influx of tourism means an influx of money into your local economy.

A landmark acts as a stepping stone for your town. Drawing people into your community helps to share the spotlight from the attraction to local businesses. Hidden gems can be found in many communities and having an attraction can help uncover them. Travelers will be spending money on food, lodging, souvenirs, and attractions while they visit your town.

Check out this great example of photo op bench characters. This pair of dating dinosaurs in downtown Drumheller, Alberta (known as Gus and his girlfriend to locals) are located at 2 separate bus stops on opposite ends of the street, prompting visitors to take a stroll through the main street and see all the other stores and restaurants along the way.

Beyond increasing the activity at local businesses, the attraction itself can create job opportunities for local residents, from management and maintenance to customer service and sales positions.

If you want to take your town’s development one step further, you can provide memorabilia based around your landmark. Think of keychains, magnets, t-shirts, hats, and more. The possibilities are endless. Your landmark will be a feature that can’t be found anywhere else, tourists will love to take a little memento back home or to give to a loved one.

The world’s largest dinosaur has been an iconic feature of Alberta since 1999.

Seeing this landmark not only in its main location but throughout your town can help build and solidify your town’s identity.

4. Attractions Solidify Your Town’s Identity and Boosts Community Pride

We’ve talked a lot about the marketing and economic potential that having a roadside attraction can provide, but a roadside attraction can also benefit the individual members of your community as well. This is because your landmark can become a unifying symbol that represents your town.

It’s easy for people living in small towns or rural areas to feel disconnected from the rest of the world; having a unique piece of art or landmark can give them something tangible that they can point to with pride and say “This is ours!” As word spreads about your town’s one-of-a-kind creation, more and more locals may flock to check it out as well —especially if it’s free!

The local 4H club posing with their community’s attraction.
Even pets can get in on the action.

You may be worried about how to decide on a piece for your town, a simple solution would be to provide a public survey of what your citizens want to be represented with and go with the majority. Having a brand new attraction for your town can help jumpstart excitement within the community and become a talking point for social events and gatherings.

Are You Ready to Boost Your Tourism Power with a Roadside Attraction?

Roadside attractions have been around for decades but have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to attract tourists from near and far. Investing in one could potentially bring numerous benefits to your town including increased tourism, economic development, social media growth, and community pride.

Why not give people a reason to seek you out? Give them an adventure by creating a giant sculpture or artwork as a roadside attraction!

One of our Creative Consultants would love to help. Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started creating your special attraction.

If you thought this article was interesting, watch this incredible landmark whale sculpture come to life in Texas:

Want some more inspiration for promoting your town or business?

How Exterior Theming Can Draw Visitors to Your Tourist Attraction

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Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your tourism experience from mundane to magical.



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6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

Having unique roadside attractions and landmarks can be a simple solution to support your town’s marketing efforts, but how does one decide what to create as their main piece? After all, with the investment going into this project, you want to make sure it’s not only a unique piece that stands out but one that resonates with your community.

Luckily, there are lots of different types of attractions to pick from to help inspire your decision. From giant sculptures to highlighting natural wonders, this list can help show the benefits of each type and make you one step closer to getting your town on the map.

Let’s check out the varying types of attractions that your town may be interested in creating.

1. Giant Statues and Sculptures

Giant, larger-than-life statues can be an eye-catching and noticeable choice to attract tourists to visit your community. These sculptures can be anything from animals to people to plants and objects that are related to or can be found within your community.

Giant pines cones at the center of a town.

Creating a giant sculpture that represents your community can enhance its identity and provide a focal point for its values. Whether your town has a strong connection to an industry such as mining or forestry, local flora & fauna, cultural heritage, or historical figure, a sculpture that embodies these elements can promote local pride and draw visitors to explore your town’s unique character.

For example, imagine creating a larger-than-life sculpture of the majestic Bald Eagle, which is the national bird of the United States and can be found in many states. This iconic bird of prey symbolizes freedom, strength, and independence, making it a perfect inspiration for a landmark sculpture that embodies a town’s spirit. The landmark sculpture could be designed to be educational as well. Visitors could learn about the history and significance of the Bald Eagle, as well as the importance of preserving its habitat and the natural environment.

Large, exterior walrus sculpture on the roof top of a pediatric dental office.
Large, exterior walrus sculpture.

They are a great boost for local businesses as well. For example, dinosaurs have become a beloved symbol that captures our fascination with prehistoric times, and are an obvious choice for a giant landmark owing to their larger-than-life stature. Any region that is rich in prehistoric features can leverage this popular attraction by installing a giant dinosaur landmark that is sure to captivate tourists, leading them to explore local museums, fossil shops, and dino-themed restaurants.

Exterior shot of business with a giant red and blue dinosaur landmark character on the roof.

Having a giant version of an item you least expect can be a unique way to entice travelers to take a rest stop in your town. A simple “Have you seen the giant potato peeler?” can be an easy and simple conversation starter that can lead back to you and your community.

Overall, a giant sculpture that represents the local community can be an excellent way to amplify and grow the town’s identity while serving as a focal point for the community’s values and history. By highlighting the unique aspects of the town or region, it can also help to attract visitors who are interested in learning more about the area’s culture, heritage, and industry.

2. Natural Wonders

Naturally occurring roadside attractions can be a fascinating sight for travelers and tourists alike. These attractions are often created by natural forces over thousands or even millions of years, and can provide a glimpse into the history and geology of the surrounding area.

Some of the most popular naturally occurring roadside attractions include giant redwood trees, impressive rock formations, and stunning waterfalls. These natural wonders can provide a unique and memorable experience for visitors, and can even inspire a sense of awe and wonder.

The Grand Canyon

Perhaps you have a natural wonder close to your community and you want to emphasize its importance in a more interactive way. Having a 3D sculpture that pays homage to your natural surrounding can be a great way to provide the bigger picture in a single space. This can make for great photo ops for family and friends when they come to visit your location.

3. Historical Sites

Many roadside attractions are dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history of a particular area or topic. These attractions can range from small, local museums to larger historical sites that draw visitors from across the country. Some examples of these types of attractions include historic battlefields, pioneer settlements, and museums that focus on local industries or cultural traditions.

The World’s Largest Wagon Wheel and Pick Axe is located in the Fort Assiniboine National Historic Site.

Similar to natural wonders, using giant sculptures can help emphasize the meaning behind historical sites and build on the importance of that site. Oftentimes, historical sites utilize past images to showcase the events of that era. These photos can often be small or only provide a small portion of the actual event.

Using a large-scale sculpture can help immerse your visitors to see the intensity of the many details that history may have. Perhaps your location is next to a well-known historic battle, you could use large-scale sculptures to create a 3D landscape of what that battle may have entailed. Maybe your historical site involves a prominent figure that made a difference within your community or within history, having a large-scale sculpture of that figure can help focus the importance of that historical person.

All these ideas give your visitors a unique and memorable experience that they’ll be able to share with future visitors for years to come.

4. Museums and Curiosities

Museums can be historical in nature, but can also focus on science, art, or just a day of discovery.

Exterior shot of the Hollywood Wax Museum.
Hollywood Wax Museum featuring the World’s Largest Gorilla at 40ft tall.

If your business is out of the ordinary and takes its guests through a journey outside of the box of regular life, using a roadside attraction can be a great way to gauge curiosity towards your business. Museums, optical illusion exhibits, science centers, and other outside-the-box businesses can benefit from outside-the-box attractions. An upscale exterior design can entice or give visitors a hint at what your business is all about.

A great example of this is the business WonderWorks, in which its building is literally flipped on its head.

Exterior shop of Wonderworks Musuem themed and cladded to look like an upside-down building.
Wonderworks Museum with entertainment center focused on science exhibits.

WonderWorks is an indoor amusement park that combines both education and entertainment through its exhibits. Having a unique exterior design both turns heads and causes curiosity as to what hidden treasures that building may contain. WonderWorks also knows that its exterior generates curiosity and that they’ve gone “big” to build a story about its unique origin. By doing this, they build on the customer experience and branding for its company.

5. Amusement Parks and Activities

Many roadside attractions include rides and games, such as go-karts, mini golf, and bumper boats.

Offering a small activity like a mini-golf course is a good way to encourage travelers to take a break and relax for a bit. It can even increase the length of time that tourists stay in the town. Instead of just passing through, they may choose to spend a night to play and to explore the other attractions in the town.

Sculpted open-mouthed hippo character for outdoor mini golf course.
Sculpted open-mouthed hippo character for outdoor mini golf course.

6. Art Installations or Murals

Art installations and murals can be a unique way to create both a sense of community and create engagement from visitors. Having a large-scale art piece along a busy roadway can quickly enhance what your town or city is all about and give a focal point for guests to see and instantly relate to. These pieces can also showcase multiple aspects of your town and flow together into one captivating piece that can educate your visitors.

Have you heard of Graffiti Alley in Toronto, Canada? This unique section within the Greater Toronto Area stretches 1000 feet and showcases large-scale graffiti pieces that have become an iconic photo opportunity for models and photographers. These sets of murals also help encapsulate the alley’s history and curiosity about how the piece came to be.

On top of this, it has created an organic focus point for tourists to visit and venture into closeby businesses. The alley can be found within the heart of the GTA and closeby to Queens Street West which has local cafes, restaurants, and stores.

Although graffiti may not be the art style that you’d prefer for your community, a large-scale art piece designed to represent your town can create opportunities to highlight your location.

What Attraction is Right for You?

Whether it’s a statue of an iconic figure, an out-of-the-ordinary exterior design, or a large-scale art piece for photo ops, having a unique roadside attraction can be to drive visitors to learn more about your community. These six different ideas will help you start the conversation and jumpstart your ideas.

Regardless of what your community decides to go with, creating an iconic landmark can become a unique staple of your community piece for years to come.

Want some more inspiration for promoting your town or business?

How Exterior Theming Can Draw Visitors to Your Tourist Attraction

4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

How to Build a Giant Elephant

Playful Photo Op Inspiration

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your tourism experience from mundane to magical.



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3 Ways to Educate Children & Parents Beyond the Dental Chair

What is a Themed Environment

Create the Perfect About Page on Your Dental Website

How Exterior Theming Can Draw Visitors to Your Tourist Attraction

You know that little saying… don’t judge a book by its cover? What if I told you that is exactly what you want your customers to do.

In other words, when your guests pull up to your business you want them to be impressed with your building and have a good idea of how you operate on the inside. Follow along as we discuss how bringing a little imagination and personality to the exterior of your building can have a beneficial impact on the business that comes through your doors.

What Does the Exterior Look of Your Business Say to Guests?

In our recent blog What Does Your Reception and Lobby Say to Guests, we noted that it only takes seven seconds for a person to make a first impression. Seven seconds is just enough time for a person to decide whether they are going to turn into your parking lot or not.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

– Oscar Wilde

Make sure your guests are wowed from moment one with something that makes them take a deep breath and think, “I am in the right place.”

What Do You Want Your Visitors to Know About You?

What attracts visitors to your destination? Is it your signature dish, prehistoric fossils & minerals, a new science exhibit, or top-notch scuba tours? Similarly, why are you as a business owner excited to have guests join you in your space?

You can give visitors the answers to these questions by designing the exterior of your location to visually represent who you are, and make them feel assured they are in the right place when they arrive.

Before you embark on the journey of designing your dream exterior, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. How do I want my brand to be visually represented?
  2. What assumptions do I want people to make when they arrive at my business?
  3. What are my target audience’s interests?

Attract Attention with Landmark Characters to Top Your Building

Turn heads from miles away and make people think “I have to go there.”

External business landmarks – a tried and true advertising technique that works for your business 24 hours a day.

Your business’s exterior is the first interaction guests have with your company. Let it be your silent salesperson and speak on your behalf for all the moments you are not around. Let it intrigue passersby. You are a one-of-a-kind business, give people the idea that what you are doing through your doors is different and exciting.

This legendary landmark makes it obvious that this location is committed to the promise of fun. A strong impression like this sticks like glue – who forgets an octopus with a snorkel practically inviting you inside for a scuba-filled adventure.
Check out these keepers of the animal kingdom. Visitors will be curious as to what other playful safari animals they may encounter as they wander through this attraction.
“There’s only one thing that can leave a footprint that size…” Feast your eyes on the world’s largest gorilla gripping the Empire State Building in its clutches.
Ready for a white water rafting adventure? This wild landmark doubles as a photo op for these kids who have hopped on for the ride!
Looking for some radical waves to surf? Give this dude some fin for riding that gnarly wave over the edge of this business rooftop.
Fans of fossils and dinosaurs will spot this friendly dino from miles away as it spans over the entirety of this building’s roof.
Yehaaaaaw! This educational facility promises a farmyard full of fun to all the guests who walk through the doors!
This is a landmark of… a landmark! The Hollywood Wax Museum displays stars of the past in the style of Mount Rushmore.

Grab attention and let the word of your unique exterior spread far and wide. Exterior theming will attract new visitors and get the community talking about you. “Turn left at the giant octopus” will become a common phrase. People won’t be able to help but come by and check you out.

Advertise with Themed Cladding for Your Building Exterior

Take it one step further than a sculpture on your roof – cover your whole building in an eye-catching display!

Theming the entire exterior of your business will have car breaks screeching and kids and adults alike screaming “stop the car!”

Turn your space from mundane to magical and hit people with the curiosity bug. They will have a hard time staying away from your space wondering what is behind your remarkable doors.

This wonderful upsidedown museum is sure to draw attention. What do you think has happened to the inside? Should we explore?
Do you dare enter the Castle of Chaos? The themed cladding on this building radiates mystery and the promise of a thrill.
The Hollywood Wax Museum is the home of the stars!
When guests pull up to MagiQuest, they know they are in for an adventure. Which magical door should they try first?

Become a Shareworthy Business With Themed Photo Ops

Whether you operate a healthcare facility, hospitality venue, or tourism destination, it’s critical that your clients leave happy and are excited to come back. And if you’ve done it just right, they will be happy to share with others the great experience they’ve had in your space.

Give your guest something to share by showcasing visually interesting moments they can easily capture and post on social media. But what could these significant opportunities be for your business? Well, what is the first thing you do when you are looking to visit a new place? Do you check prices, read reviews, or do you scan the photos? Our guess is photos first.

Picture this… the first photos of your business that come up on Google are customers posing with your one-of-a-kind photo op. They are beaming in these photos because they’ve just had a wonderful time in your space.

Check out a selection of photo ops created by the IDS team over the years. These 3D characters continue to stop visitors in their tracks to snap a memory to this day.

Hollywood Wax has a heart-stopping photo op where families can pose with King Kong himself.
Those with a sweet tooth can pretend to be the founders of a famous chocolate shop in this peek-through photo op display.
Fans of trains can hammer in the final golden railway spike on their adventure through the olden days.
Visitors to the famous dinosaur town of Drumheller, Alberta can pose with a raptor come to life!
Have a blast at the local science center! Guests can explore the stars while pretending to be an astronaut.
warthog with a sports jersey and foam finger photo op bench
Sports fan? A mascot that’s always ready for a close-up is the perfect photo op outside of a stadium.

Including your logo in the shot is a must! Your guests will be advertising for you when they share their photos with others.

This anime-inspired mecha dragon gets all the kids excited for a new adventure.

Seasonal photo ops are another great way to entice visitors with fun photos. An entire Christmas display may not work for your business, but a Santa who’s always ready for a photo will draw in kids and adults for a quick shot.

This “selfie Santa” lets you put your phone in Santa’s hand for the perfect photo.

As we said, when you’ve done it just right, the content your guests capture interacting with your space and something like a photo op will easily showcase how the experience at your location made them feel – #happywecame! That’s the real power of visual content and why social approval remains the most powerful way to influence business results.

Speaking of which, check out how exterior theming can supercharge your return on investment (ROI)…

Supercharge Your ROI with Exterior Theming

Let me give you a little scenario…

There are two businesses in the same industry and each owner wants to work on boosting their ROI. Both business owners have committed to a similar budget over the next 5 years to achieve this goal.

Business A has committed to dedicating that money primarily to social media advertising initiatives. Whereas Business B has dedicated these funds solely to investing in theming of the exterior of their business – Business B’s theming included an addition of a marvelous photo op character.

Business A has undoubtedly seen an increase in business deriving directly from their marketing efforts. However, Business B’s upfront investment in theming has cut their need to spend on marketing entirely. Why? Because their customers have begun marketing for them.

People love sharing their experiences on social media. Business B’s photo-op in front of their storefront gave their guests the perfect opportunity to do so. On top of that, people cannot help but talk. Business B’s visitors continue to share the word that there is a magical photo op attraction in their community. This has people far and wide talking about and seeking out Business B’s attraction.

What theming investment has afforded for Business B is years of free marketing collateral for a one-time investment. Whereas business A will inevitably have to continue contributing to their marketing initiatives to keep seeing the results they are seeing. But because they will need to continue making significant contributions to see similar results they will have to ask… is this sustainable?

I think undeniably this is the best marketing tool you can possibly use – you know, you don’t have to put up a billboard when you have a business like this.”

– Dr. Bill Martin, IDS theming client

Encourage your guests to look, point, and judge a book by its cover. Reel them in with the story your exterior tells. You are mysterious, you offer relaxation, or you can provide ultimate fun. A first impression lasts forever, so catch their attention and keep it.

Want some more inspiration for promoting your town or business?

4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

The Magic of Parade Floats: Types and Benefits

Playful Photo Op Inspiration

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your business into a magical guest experience.



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What is a Themed Environment

Color and Light in Interior Spaces for Children with Autism

Enhancing ABA Therapy Centers with Themed Decor

What Does Your Reception and Lobby Say to Guests?

What do you look at when you walk into someone’s home? Is it the flooring, the paint, the artwork? What you are doing in those moments is making a judgment on the space you’ve entered and how you feel in it.

As a hospitality provider, you are hosting your guests’ home away from home. They may stay for just the evening or perhaps a few weeks, but their first few moments in your space can make or break their impression of your business for the remainder of their stay.

The Significance of a Thoughtfully Designed Lobby

Within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are – and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness.

– Forbes

It’s all about your visitors. Your lobby is the first place your guests have will have contact with the face of your company, and as such, plays a significant role in influencing the first impression they make of your business. Make them feel welcome!

Consider what they are stepping into –the heart of your space. Your lobby and reception space is a place for them to check-in and out, socialize, relax, wait for a ride, or catch up on some work. Encouraging these connective activities by ensuring the space is designed with comfort, quality, appeal, and functionality can communicate that this space was created for them.

But you do have to ask, what design elements in your lobby will invoke these welcoming feelings?

What Should Your Lobby Look Like?

Do you have a trendy hotel restaurant, a family-friendly resort, or an experiential bar? To secure satisfaction amongst your guests you must stimulate their imagination in relation to your brand and what you do through your design.

Whether you are building from scratch or looking to enhance your lobby space, start by asking yourself these questions in relevance to who you are as a company:

  • Who is my clientele? Who are the people you need to connect with? Aim to connect with them on a multitude of sensory levels (i.e., eyesight, touch, smell, sound) through the design of your space. Remember to consider their abilities and factor accessibility and functionality into your design.  
  • What emotions do you want to provoke in your guests? Are you wanting your guests to feel curious, excited, cheery, amused, relaxed, etc.?
  • How would you like to capture their attention? Is it with an out-of-the-box wow factor, cozy furniture, a grand roaring fireplace, sleek decor, or mood lighting?
  • What expectations do you want to establish? How should guests expect to feel heading into your establishment after their encounter in your welcome area, or what can they be sure to experience if they choose to return?

Once you have established these elements, you can add your design flair to show them who you are.

Speaking of that flare, let’s talk about ways that you can weave your brand into your lobby space.

Benefits of a Recognizable and Branded Themed Lobby

Build a space that forges lasting emotional connections between you and your customers by adding brand activations.

A brand activation is an interaction with your brand that is intentionally implemented to create awareness and connect with your target audience on an exclusive level. Brand activations are an experience.

Prime Marketing puts it best…

Brand activation allows a brand to have a privileged moment with the consumer one-on-one to showcase the features and advantages of a product.

Creating lasting emotional connections between you and your customers gives them a memory they can take with them.

Here is a noteworthy example:

Lipton Iced Tea’s Slip & Slide in London

Take a peek at this Lipton Tea slip & slide that was assembled in downtown London early on a Friday morning. It was set up to encourage commuters to #BeADaybreaker, have a bit fun of on their way to work, and take a slip down the slide. This brought a ton of smiles to sliders’ faces, gave them a fun interaction on a Friday morning, and a memory associated with the Lipton brand to take with them.

This is an extreme example of course. Basically, if a consumer is physically engaging with a brand in any way, such as interacting with a photo op or getting swag from the team on a parade float, you have created an experience for your audience.

The IDS team created the Skip the Dishes parade float.

Depending on the vibe of your business, you can subtly mesh brand activations into your guest experience or go big!

Let’s take it slow and build up to the showstoppers…

Branded Items to Delight Your Guests

Take your guest experience to the next level with some customization of the products that guests will use while checking in, having continental breakfast, or lounging while waiting for an Uber.

Add your branding to things like:

  • Pens
  • Coasters
  • Napkins
  • Water bottle labels

Create branded swag that guests can keep or purchase from your gift shop.

  • Tote bags
  • Mugs and tumblers
  • Lip balm
  • Sun hats and ball caps
  • Sunglasses

Encouraging guests to keep some swag as a memory of their trip is a thoughtful way to remind them of their time in your space.

Immersive Wall Murals to Transform Lounge Spaces

Transform your space into some special, something they wouldn’t see anywhere else. Wall murals are a great extension of your brand presence as they can be designed to fit the story of who you are – a cozy hideaway, a chic hangout, or a family-friendly escape. Why not liven up your space with a custom addition that will have guests oohing and awing!

Consider a contemporary and chic addition that brings a simplistic color pallet that appeals to a wide range of ages.

For a family-friendly location, try something more fun. An age-old game we all have a hard time passing up is I spy with my little eye. Hide various brand elements throughout the game for your guests to find while they relax in your lobby area. Also great for family rooms or play areas where kids and their parents can spend some time after a day of activities.

Themed Reception Desks for Welcome Guests with Whimsy

There is incredible value in staffing your waiting area with a wonderful individual or team to greet your visitors. Their bright smiles can elevate your visitor’s first moments in your space by giving them a moment to personally connect with those who represent your brand.

Why not elevate the location guests are directed to be greeted by turning it into an awe-inspiring centerpiece?

These modern reception desks are vibrantly chic. This refreshing design communicates luxury and relaxation.

These reception desks are fun and eye-catching and set the mood for an extraordinary experience.

Creative Lobby Seating for Guests

Functionality is a key factor in providing a comfortable sanctuary for your guests. Your visitors could be checking in after a long day on the road or returning from wandering the local tourist spots. Either way, they will appreciate a comfortable place to grab a moment of rest.

But who said functionality and comfort mean you have to sacrifice interesting design? Check out these practical and stylish seating solutions.

This bench seating is elegantly eye-catching. Make this coral sculpture the pearl of your lobby. Its sleek and luminous design elements will have guests feeling refreshed when they take a moment to rest their feet.

Guests can join these friendly seals perched in this cozy corner. Don’t forget to snap a picture! Your guests will have something to show their friends when they tell them they got to hang out with these friendly sea creatures.

In fact, give your visitors ample opportunity to snap the vacation away with these unforgettable photo ops…

Photo Opportunities for Visiting Families

Encourage your guests to take home a memory – a picture with a branded photo op. This is the perfect addition to your lobby or reception area because as discussed above, it is a space that they will spend time in at various points during their stay. If guests are on a leisurely trip, stopping to snap a picture will seem enticing.

Cozy up in this lodge lobby and snap a memory with this bear cub… keep an eye out for mamma bear though.

Surfs up with this little shredding pup mascot. Guests can hop on the board and practice their skills before they hit the wave pool with their friends or family!

Speaking of the pool, what about a friendly lifeguard shark character leading from the lobby to the pool? The logo on his chest makes for a great social media promo when guests take their pictures with this charming character.

Eye-catching Centerpieces for Your Lobby

Wow your guests with out-of-the-box dimension and creativity.

Eye-catching centerpieces can be monumental additions to your space. Your visitors will start associating you and your business with the memorable item that took their breath away the moment they walked into your space.

This remarkable sculpted whale soars above this modern designed lobby. Its impressive size and carefully crafted features are the perfect attention-grabbing recipe to make an impactful first impression.

These tree sculpted supporting beams turned this lobby into a contemporary forest. These could have been plain structural beams, but instead, guests are consistently wowed by the thoughtfully unique detail. 

First impressions count, so show your guests you are excited to invite them into a space that reflects who you are as a company. Tell your guests that you’re friendly, fun, and interactive! Go crazy or keep it simple, but strive to produce a reaction that makes your guests feel welcomed.

Want some more inspiration for promoting your business?

How Exterior Theming Can Draw Visitors to Your Tourist Attraction

4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

Playful Photo Op Inspiration

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your business into a magical guest experience.



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What is a Themed Environment

Color and Light in Interior Spaces for Children with Autism

Enhancing ABA Therapy Centers with Themed Decor




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