Your Resource for Phenomenal Creativity in Multiple Fields
Immersive Entertainment Creation
Think Tanks, Brainstorming, Charrettes
Story / Message Integration
Ride and Show Innovation
Layout and Master Planning
Scenic & Special Effects Design
Executive Presentations / Sales
Jaw-Dropping Imagination with Practicality
Concept Designer, Experience Creator, Innovator
Public Speaker, Inventor, Kitchen Designer, Architecture Consultant, Amateur Cosmologist
Steve Ericson's career path has enabled him to create some of the most innovative attractions and architecture in the themed entertainment and hospitality industries. And, he excels in bringing out the creativity of others with whom he works. There have been times when, with just a few words from Steve, others are suddenly inspired... and the options and solutions start flowing in a forward direction.
For the last 35 years, Steve has served as the Creative Director and Chief Designer, and later as the Master Planner and Chief Creative Officer, of the Diamonda Theme Park and Resorts of Diamonda Holding BV and Diamonda Holding BV for proposed destination theme parks on three continents.
With over 40 years total experience working for several companies in immersive entertainment industry and production, Steve has participated in initial brainstorming meetings and then created the basic storylines, layout, and ride/show systems, and sometimes even inventing special effects.
He has conceived and designed over 45 truly unique world-class attractions, 30 themed restaurants, the conceptual plans for 6 large theme park hotels, and numerous retail venues, along with the necessary back-of-house facilities and offices.
Steve's knowledge and passions in numerous fields allow him to create new combinations of storytelling methods and entertainment technologies in ultra-imaginative and truly captivating ways. His interests in science, humanity, hospitality, architecture, and the arts are reflected in the phenomenal concepts and designs he routinely produces. He invariably adds the unforgettable "Wow!" factor into each project.
Through experience and intuition, Steve continues to hone his ability to communicate the message or story in such a way as to obtain the desired reaction of the visitors in many of the same ways a movie director obtains the desired reaction from movie-watchers.
Whether he is designing theme parks, hotels, shows, rides, houses, or kitchens, and when making executive presentations, doing public speaking, conducting workshops, explaining the physics of cosmology, or simply dabbling in various arts, Steve's impressive creativity is irrefutable.
Fluidity of Thought Parameters
I do not claim to think "outside the box," but rather ask, "What box?" because it is seldom that I see one. This mindset has enabled me to create attractions, rides, shows, special effects, architecture, and inventions that have solidified my "ultra-creative" reputation.
I excel in generating imaginative,
yet doable options and solutions.
Diamonda Theme Park
A Main Attraction Building Surrounded by Themed Gardens
There were several challenges in designing the Diamonda Theme Park's main attraction building, some of them self-imposed. Each of the large identical diamond-shaped pavilions houses two attractions, and from the guests' perspective both attractions appear to be totally within the diamond. And, of course, the interior layout, ambiance, and experience of the lobby area of each diamond had
to be unique.
Entrance Diamond cross-section showing the special effects rainbow entrance with moving conveyor ramp, the Geode preshow, and the
500 seat Diamond Theater.
Diamonda Video (original from 2007)
Entrance Diamond 4th floor leading to the entrance of the central "hub" lobby of the theme park.
Each of the diamond-shaped pavilions had to be accessible to fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, as well as clear emergency egress for guests. In addition, I designed one half of one facet of each diamond pavilion to be removable by crane so that large set pieces can be somewhat easily replaced when necessary. The ample loading docks of the building and the truck routes to them were designed so that they are never seen by the guests.
This rendering of the exterior of the building was produced by the CAD architecture program from the actual architectural plans, so it is exact. If you look carefully, you will see the floor levels, as well as parts of the interior design through the glass roof section.
A NEW GENERATION OF THEME PARK
FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VISITORS!
Detailed Conceptual Resorts for the Diamonda Theme Park
For the the huge "attraction hotels" as well as for a number of smaller resorts, I designed detailed conceptuals, including not only the storyline, general appearance, and specialty elements, but also the layout of each floor and the designs of many of the guest suites, lobbies, restaurants, merchandise shops, and back-of-house areas. It is important that every aspect of a resort that tells a story be "authored" for all those who bring it into reality as well as for the guests who will eventually experience it.
Top view, 25 story Dragon Resort
Top view, 25 story Butterfly Resort
Top view, 25 story Majestic Harbor Sports
and Convention Resort
Front elevation, 18 story Camberwood Hotel, themed as a 1930s style Miami Beach resort with playful architecture
Side view cross-section
Floor plan of the sloping Dunes Lobby
(note: sitting and specialty areas do not slope)
Comfortable creative rooms that tell parts of the storylines of the various resorts are a hallmark of my hotel designs. And, the experience of staying in the rooms will be memorable.
A Sampling of My Work on Behalf of Disney
"On spec" models
Some of the ideas that I presented to Marty Sklar and Wathel Rogers were added into the attractions of Epcot.
The Living Seas
One of my two original contracts with Imagineering
While many of my ideas and suggestions went nowhere, or were outright rejected, many found their way into the guest experience. I still proudly say that I have had more ideas rejected than anyone I know, but on the other hand, I've had lots of ideas accepted.
Dragon Boats for Epcot's "Skyleidoscope"
Assisted in the design and fabrication of two highly themed special effects speed boats for a unique daytime show
Epcot Analysis 1983
through the lens of
Immersive Entertainment Psychology
I wrote this report, "The Psychology of a Theme Park," about some of the inadvertent psychological, "magic" mitigation effects that Epcot was having on guests. Marty Sklar, President of Walt Disney Imagineering, copied and distributed it among the top Imagineers!
Work for Various Other Companies and Organizations
Consulted on storyboard and ride layout
Conceived and supervised renovation of the attraction
Technical Director and Set Designer
Set Designer, Special Effects Designer, and performer
Participated in the design and fabrication of the "ice" store front and "ice" sales fixtures for Everything But Water store.
Designed a flagship store with animatronic show and 1950s style soda shop restaurant "on spec" for an iconic American brand
Designed 1 1/2 acre water park for a
seniors' campground resort
When I heard that one of the Regal boat dealers had run an ad that stated "Regal Boats: Quietly making waves," I immediately thought of the wave machine that was sold as a novelty. I arranged for clear bumper stickers to be printed in reverse and applied them to the back of enough wave machines for all Regal Boats dealers worldwide to put in their showrooms. I applied a plaque to the front of each machine with the afore mentioned sales slogan. Customers walked past the signage of the other boat manufacturers and were transfixed on the Regal Wave machines. Sales increased by about 30% that year!
Assistant to the Vice President of
In addition to my other work for Regal, I also helped produce various stage shows for them for their dealer meetings and conventions. I frequently designed the sets, coordinated the talent, and was stage manager for many of the shows. The most memorable show was in the Ball Room of the Americas on the 3rd floor of the Contemporary Hotel at Disney World. We managed to get a 16ft boat into a freight elevator and onto the stage where Marie Osmond performed from it!
For several years, I assisted the Vice President of International Marketing. My responsibilities included the realization of the conceptual boat catalogs. I helped choose the models, I "dressed" the boats, and I worked with the photographers.
I have made professional presentations, hosted workshops, given lectures, and even done stand-up comedy a few times. I was flown from Orlando to Tucson to give a talk on kitchen design for a Tucson Children's Museum fundraiser. Some of my other notable speaking experiences are as follows...
Presenting Diamonda to:
- the Cabinet and party leaders in Beijing
- the Vice Chancellor of Germany
- the City Council of Garden Grove, CA
- the corporate heads of many companies
Presenting lectures and workshops for:
- social organizations
- corporate functions
- marketing on behalf of companies
Several architects have requested my input or evaluation in the development of projects for their clients. I have consulted on homes, churches, a synagogue, office buildings, hotels, restaurants, and boats. I was also consulted on a design for the World Trade Center's 9/11 Memorial in New York (that design was not used). I have also been asked on many occasions to to help design new interior layouts for existing buildings because I have a knack for envisioning possibilities and practical design solutions within minutes of walking into a building.
When I made a presentation of the first attraction that I had designed for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World to Marty Sklar, President of Walt Disney Imagineering, he told me that the story presented within the attraction wouldn't be clear to the guests and he urged me to rework it. During subsequent discussions, I learned a lot from him about storylines and how (and how not) to transform them into a great experience. He also said, "Don't show me what's new, but rather what will never grow old." I apply that wisdom, along with what I have learned about theme park psychology to projects such as theme park layout, attractions, architecture, presentations, models, and in kitchen design.
Rough Concept Models
On several occasions, I have been asked to make major changes or enhancements to models, whether I or someone else originally built them. The model I am working on above is for Westgate, a leading vacation timeshare company headquartered in Orlando. Typically, the finished reconstruction was made to look like it had always been that way, but in a couple of cases, it was necessary to make the change look obvious for the purpose of the story that the model was telling.
#1 Ericson Safety Pump
My father conceived the basics of this pump, and then we worked on it together. I came up with a unique impeller design and then arranged for the patent and for its fabrication. Our pump won an award from Popular Science Magazine as one of the top 100 inventions of the year because it is 100% frictionless and requires no maintenance. The pump pictured at the top right has an 8" impeller and a 3" discharge, and easily pumps 15 gallons of water per second.
#2 Movement Effect Visual Display
United States Patent #6,536,146
This simple device uses a combination of several components that when layered in a specific order create a visual effect that leads the brain into interpreting a two dimensional photograph as a three dimensional image that is in motion. This special effects photo frame can be made in various sizes to fit standard photographs, and the housing can be made in a choice of multiple materials such as plastic, wood, metal, or glass.
The Ericson Safety Pump had only been on the market for about 4 months when we received the news that it had saved a fishing boat and crew from Iceland. I was astonished to discover that boat manufacturers didn't want to put the pumps on their new boats as standard equipment because they said it would remind their customers that boats sometimes sink! Crazy logic, but a lesson learned.
Ironically, this is a meme that
I copied from the internet, LOL!
Custom Kitchens & Baths
Between (and sometimes during) my work on theme parks, shows, and publications,
I designed and sold over 1,200 custom kitchens and hundreds of custom baths in a wide range of period styles and decor, yet each with the latest modern conveniences. Much
of what I designed and sold was for the well-to-do and celebrities. My work has been
featured on magazine covers and the front pages of newspaper sections. I quickly
earned a reputation for accomplishing very creative functional designs that fit the
parameters of pre-existing architectural styles, spaces, and personal tastes of my clients.
As seen from the back, the house is a
fanciful representation of a seaside Italian village on the Mediterranean.
The front as seen from the circular
I built the house on 5 heavily wooded acres because I enjoy seeing nature all around me.
The house contains many interesting works of art, much of it created by me or by friends.
More than a House, It's an Experience that
I Designed, Live In, and Use as a Creative Tool
Why include my house in my portfolio? I designed the house using many of the Immersive Entertainment Psychology techniques that I incorporate into my theme park and attraction designs. When people walk through the house, it quite literally changes the way they feel to the extent that they are really aware of it. The house makes them feel better mentally, emotionally and even creatively. It is a very comforting and reassuring experience.
I designed the music room to be acoustically correct for the organ, piano, and Karaoke machine.
My (fairly old) Allen theater organ allows me to be a bit more creative with my music.
At the center of the Palladian window in the family room is my fanciful version of the creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel.
Pool Enclosure Video
I built this simple cardboard model of the house so that family, friends, and even the builder could see what it would look like.
The house has several murals. The mural in the spa alcove was designed by me and David "Billy Bob" Irvin, and then painted by him.
The pool wraps around the central part of the house so that when you are in the breakfast room it feels as though you are over the water.
This view shows the island in the pool that can seat 6 for dinner, the east wing, and the balcony of the sitting room of the master bedroom.
Opposite the Palladian window is a curved wall topped with spiral columns and organ pipes.
An Interesting Life...
Typically, I am not a thrill seeker, but having a few friends who enjoyed cliff-jumping, I decided to take it up at age 54! Here you see me jumping from about 40 feet in Jamaica.
In between attraction design and kitchen design, I did a bit of modeling and work as an extra. I appeared on brochures, billboards, and promotional films for Universal. And, I can be seen as an extra in a number of episodes of two television series.
Cosmology, theoretical physics and contemplating the dimensional architecture of the universe combine into an interesting hobby.
This is a photo of my sister and me standing on top of Launching Pad 39-A, from which Apollo 11 and many other launches were made. My father was the superintendent of construction. By age six I learned that just about anything is possible, even going to the moon.
At age 27, I took the test offered by MENSA just to prove to a doubtful family member that I could qualify, LOL!
World travel has been my passion since age 18. Early in life, I discovered that exploring other cultures and their unique ways of expressing themselves add to my creative abilities. I have visited 40+ countries, some many times. I go on a lot of Royal Caribbean cruises and sometimes work remotely from the ships, even while out at sea.
Keeping life interesting is important for boosting creativity and feeling energized enough to use it.
As part of my self-training to prepare for designing theme parks, I chose to work in the Magic Kingdom. For about a year, I operated the Nautilus Subs in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
I also learn a tremendous amount from nature. While hiking, exploring, and even looking up at the sky, I find forms and patterns in the wild that inspire me. Snorkeling is a favorite activity, and I have enjoyed the experience in seas all over the world.
Star Trek television series and movies have provided me with great entertainment and inspiration since the 1960s. When I had the opportunity to buy the original (as in first made) Horga'hn statuette from Paramount Studios, I jumped at the chance. It appeared in 3 episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation.
I love my dog, the smartest in the whole wide world!
Walt and me standing just 2 feet and 50 years apart
In conclusion, it is my wish that I never take for granted the awesomeness of existing in this universe, to pass that joy and sense of wonder to as many as I can, and to leave this world a little bit better place in return for the privilege of having been here.
A number of years ago, i bought the original document that Walt Disney signed to create WED/Imagineering and thereby receive permission
from the Board of Directors to move ahead with
his Disneyland project. The rest is history.
The creativity of others is always inspiring, such as in this photo I took of a jaw-dropping entrance to a Men's restroom in Hawaii. This works on many levels.
"The Mind of Artificial Intelligence" 2020
This is cool to own!
© 2022 by Steve Ericson. Created with Wix.com
Go get 'em,
Using creativity to generate options, solutions, and inspiration is what I do.
Together we can come up with something neither would have thought of alone.
How may I assist you in reaching your goal?