STEM Subjects at Disneyland® Paris

Take learning outside of the classroom with the Roller Coaster Study Experience

STEM skills are essential and contribute to the UK’s global position as the sixth largest manufacturer, as well as producing 10% of the world’s scientific research. Engineering alone accounts for £800bn annually. Perhaps most excitingly, STEM students can potentially earn amongst the highest salaries of all new recruits.

At Study Experiences we hope to challenge the way young people think about science, technology, engineering and maths by raising awareness of the exciting and wide-ranging careers that studying these subjects can lead to.

If you teach or attend classes in STEM subjects, Disneyland® Paris must be one of the best places in Europe to see how your studies are put into practice.  Parades and shows; street theatre, night time AV and firework events are all part of the daily routine using STEM skills in a multitude of ways.

However Study Experiences takes you one stage further, going behind the scenes to find out about some of the necessary STEM skills needed to design and maintain the operational demands of this fabulous theme park.

Disney is an internationally recognised company at the forefront of the entertainment industry, and Disneyland Paris has given us their full support by allowing us to film behind-the-scenes interviews with people like Senior Ride Engineer Mike Kent; Director of Nature and Environment Luc Behar Bannelier; Environment Manager Nicole Ouimet together with Walt Disney Imagineers Steve Davison, Chuck Davis and Dave Bossert.

These unique insight is exclusive to students and teachers attending the seminars.

Seminar One explores the design aspects of its world-famous roller coasters and features some of the core science principles used in the process, including the use of CAD, building geometry and formulae for calculating height, energy, distance and speed.  We also consider potential and kinetic energy, gravity and the safety aspects behind roller coaster design.

Students see the effects of roller coasters on the human body, including experiencing those rapid twists and turns and weightlessness.  They then consider the need to renovate and update attractions, in particular the new theming of Space Mountain Mission Two into Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain with the acquisition of the Star Wars franchise.

This is followed up with a STEM Workshop, providing a practical, fun, opportunity for students to apply knowledge of their subjects to a real-life task.  Working in teams of eight, students use their skills to design a new roller coaster for Disneyland® Paris.  For example, students could explore the use of gravity and potential and kinetic energy in their design, or the importance of material selection and computer control.

At the end of the Workshop teams present their plans to a panel comprising of the facilitator and participating teachers who ask questions and provide feedback to the team.

Seminar Two begins with an in-depth investigation into the materials used on roller coaster ride cars and the importance of the correct material selection for the floats that go out in the Parades 365 days a year.  Following this we briefly investigate material choice for costumes.

The resort is well known for the animatronics at work on the major attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean.  Students discover how these attractions are designed and maintained. We also see how Disney Imagineers are involved in the development of Star Wars and Marvel themed prosthetics.

We look at the computer technology used to produce the Disney Dreams night-time show featuring computer mapping, av projection, lasers and fireworks.  We discover design in practice through the signage and materials developed for Toy Story Playland and Ratatouille.

With the help of the landscaping and special effects teams at the resort the seminar closes by discovering the part science and theming plays in the day to day running of Disneyland Paris and the new Parc Nature.

All of this work is backed up by a Teacher Education Guide and Student Workbook, which includes assignments to be carried out in the park.