Theme park ride rendered in Enscape
Gemma Da Silva

Gemma Da Silva

Last updated: June 26, 2024  •  4 min read

Creating Theme Park Rides and Unforgettable Experiences With Enscape

Enscape is often used by the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry to help visualize buildings and spaces of the future.

But you may not know that Enscape’s real-time rendering and virtual reality plugin is also used by professionals outside of the AEC industry to do some really incredible things. 

I was recently introduced to Don Carson, a Senior Art Director at The Hettema Group, who are an experiential design firm focused on attractions, exhibits, shows, and food and beverage projects. They are a collection of artists, architects, and engineers, many of whom have come from the theme park industry.

Don CarsonDon Carson, Senior Art Director at The Hettema Group

Don has been using Enscape for the last year to help him create themed environments; experiences that take users on a journey designed to delight and stimulate the senses.

In this post, Don tells us more about his use of Enscape and shares some of his creations with us (thank you Don!).

How long have you been using Enscape for?

I have been using Enscape on a daily basis for over a year now. It has become an essential part of my design workflow.

What made you look into using a real-time rendering and virtual reality solution?

I am always on the lookout for new tools that will help me not only communicate my designs to team members and clients but that allows me to experience my own work in ways that help me confirm that what I am creating will actually work as designed. Both real-time rendering and VR visualization offer a fantastic way to experience the design process even during its earliest phases.

Why did you decide to use Enscape?

There are a lot of new tools and services out there that appear on the surface to offer both real-time rendering and VR interactions, but nothing quite as elegantly nor as intuitively as Enscape. The ability to jump into a SketchUp model while working on it is revolutionary, and once inside the model to have it rendered as beautifully as it appears in both the static and animated renders I also generate as part of the design process.

Pumpkintown_Finale_Render_01Ride visual rendered in Enscape

How do you typically use Enscape’s real-time rendering and virtual reality plugin?

It is worth mentioning that as designers of themed environments, or spaces that tell a story, our design process is more related to theater design than purely architecture. We are constantly wandering through our designed spaces to make sure that they are communicating the narrative that we are building into them.

Enscape allows us to visit and revisit the virtual “job site” during all aspects of the design process. My VR headset sits next to me at my desk and I jump in and out of the model while I am building it to help confirm that the design is working properly. 

Exploring a ride concept in virtual reality

How has Enscape influenced the way you work on projects and collaborate internally and externally?

As artists and designers we are constantly using sketches, models, and renders to help define and refine our designs. The ability to drop into our concept models and quickly generate stills and videos without having to wait hours or days for them to render is revolutionary. There is nothing quite as informative as being able to experience a design first hand.

Upon occasion, we will render 360 views that allow our team members and clients to see the design from all angles. This is especially helpful since not everyone has a VR headset available to them. Those that do are given the best opportunity to witness the design from inside of it, no matter where we are in the process.

What have been some of the benefits you have experienced since using Enscape as part of your workflow?

Although Enscape can generate lovely presentation pieces, I find I use it mostly as a way to confirm design choices I have made while I am making them. I often tell the uninitiated that within 10 seconds of entering a model in VR you can tell what “isn’t” working in your design and immediately fix it.

Final ride design rendered in Enscape

How has your use of Enscape changed during COVID-19?

During the COVID-19 shut-down, I have been using Enscape to create virtual ride-through experiences of attractions that may never make their way into physical environments or attractions. I have found that Enscape allows me to quickly generate ride-throughs and virtual “site visit” videos to share with an audience of people following my process over social media. (Instagram @donjcarson)

ENVISION 21: Revolutionizing the Theme Park Design Process

At ENVISION 21, Enscape's virtual event held in September 2021, Don spoke further about The Hettema Group's use of real-time rendering tools like Enscape in a new and non-traditional way.

Watch Don's talk and see how The Hettema Group uses Enscape to communicate concepts to the ones who ultimately build the theme park attractions, and how the implementation of Enscape in their design workflow has led to a change to how they work.

Watch the Session

Thanks to Don Carson, Senior Art Director at The Hettema Group, for sharing his use case of Enscape with us. If you’d like to share your story, please get in touch!

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Gemma Da Silva
Gemma Da Silva

Gemma is part of the Content team at Chaos and loves to provide architects and designers with practical tips to improve their workflows and visualizations. If you have something you'd like to share with the wider Enscape community, email!