"Welcome to the world of pirates," says Walt Disney Imagineering executive Bruce Vaughn as he describes the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.
A "world" is how he conceives of the ride – a seemingly mundane description that has implications not only for Disney's recent updates of that attraction, but also for other organizations' innovations far different from those at Disneyland.
Elsewhere in the Magic Kingdom, Vaughn could say of the Haunted Mansion "welcome to the world of ghosts" and at Space Mountain "welcome to the world of space travel."
None of those rides follows a clear narrative with beginning, middle and end. Instead, each of them leads a Disneyland visitor through a world of dramatic scenes and surprising sights.
They share a "welcome to my world" format that's not new, but which has become increasingly important in modern culture, from the "YouTube" Web site to Blizzard Entertainment's "World of Warcraft" online games.
It's the basic format of any endeavor that attracts people by offering interesting variety within a familiar setting, whether that's the "Second Life" virtual world, the "Grand Theft Auto" game, the "MySpace" online community, a favorite store with new fashions, a familiar newspaper with the day's news, or even a familiar church service with a new sermon.
This format demands a different type of innovation from what engineers pursue when they develop a new product or find a technical solution to a customer's problem. To innovate successfully in a "welcome to my world" format, the trick is to add novelty without losing what's appealingly familiar.
"There's lots of nostalgia" about the scenes in Disneyland rides, says Vaughn, vice president for research and development at the Imagineering division in Glendale, where 1,000 employees, called Imagineers, develop attractions for Disney theme parks. "But audience expectations have been raised by (special effects in) movies."