Transmedia experiences in the Magic Kingdom theme park : Branding, space, and (un)sustainability at Disney

Sammanfattning: Beyond being just a medium that supports other media, the contemporary theme park is a complex space that brings together material and symbolic features of different user-producer relationships. Although robust, the theme park is scarcely investigated, especially as an autonomous and potentially adaptable media for the maintenance of transmedia dynamics.Based on this perception, the question that guides the research is as follows: in what way are transmediatic experiences outlined in theme parks, and to what extent does the relationship between space, brands and sustainability singularise the notion of transmediality?To this end, we centred the research on the user-producer relationship from a conceptual triangulation between branding, space and sustainability. These three elements are articulated around the notion of transmedia experience, which considers the individuality of each user experience. In this proposal, we identified transmediatic experiences driven by cognitive and affective aspects directly affected by the embedded engagement that the users had with the space and the brand.To develop this theoretical-methodological perspective, we elected the Magic Kingdom (MK) as the empirical object of the dissertation. This choice is directly related to the proposed triangulation since MK is the world's most popular theme park, and also because it belongs to a consolidated brand in the entertainment market: Disney. Moreover, MK turned 50 years old in 2021, a longevity that indicates a close relationship of the space with the very history of Disney as a brand. The MK park is also considered an icon of the experience economy, which makes it a particularly fertile ground to observe and analyse the types of transmedia experiences that arise through the user-producer relationship in this space.The research, exploratory in nature, is methodologically grounded on the concept of rhizome, articulating cartography and scales in order to map, characterise and analyse the user-producer experiential relationship. To select the research corpus, we opted for digital data collection and employed snowball and purposive sampling methods. Thus, we selected media content produced by the Disney brand and by its users which could highlight the different territories created, destroyed, maintained and modified in the theme park space.Our guiding question led us to the discovery of a complex transmediatic relationship between user-producer which, when mediated by the MK theme park, preserves the Disney brand, making it long-lasting and, in this sense, sustainable. At the same time, the user-producer relationship shows how subjectivities (re)parameterise Magic Kingdom's space and compose other forms of approaching sustainability (from a social, economic, and environmental point of view), including in terms of what is unsustainable and contradictory in this relationship.