Storyland Studios launches International Design Challenge

Freelance designers working in themed entertainment have a rare opportunity to pitch their concepts to industry experts through Storyland Studios’ International Design Challenge.

storyland studios

During a year when presenting design concepts for story-based experiences to the right people has been a major hurdle for freelancers, themed entertainment firm Storyland Studios has opened up the playing field with their inaugural Storyland Design Challenge.

storyland studios

“After 20 years of telling stories in space, Storyland Studios is inviting the next generation of storytellers to showcase their talent,” says Mel McGowan, chief creative officer at Storyland Studios and veteran Disney Imagineer. “We are thrilled to offer this incredible opportunity to freelance designers during this unprecedented time in our industry.”

Legends in the themed entertainment industry who will serve as judges include:

  • Michael Mack, CEO, Europa Park and Mack NeXT
  • Andreas Andersen, CEO and president, Liseberg Group, Sweden, and board member at LEGO House Denmark
  • Doris Hardoon, executive creative director and veteran Disney Imagineer
  • Laurence Beckers, creative director, Alterface, and board member of L’Institut des Arts et Diffusion, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
  • Rachel Read, founder and co-CEO, Blooloop
  • Mel McGowan, CCO, Storyland Studios and veteran Disney Imagineer

Three applicants will be chosen to present their concepts during the Storyland Innovation Webinar, after which a grand prize of $20,000 will be awarded and the winning designer will be invited to pitch their concept to industry veterans during a spotlight session at the 2021 Blooloop V-Expo online conference and exposition this October.

Free early registration for the competition takes place now through March 31 on Storyland Studios’ website, with standard registration open from April 1 – June 4. All participants will receive a one-year subscription to the Kitestring virtual training platform.

As Executive Director at Shanghai Disney Resort and a prominent voice in the Disney+ documentary miniseries, “The Imagineering Story,” Doris Hardoon is a powerful advocate for rising talent. “I know the entertainment industry is flourishing and relevant when I see versatile designers showcase who they want to be as the industry’s next generation of visionaries,” she says.

storyland studios

Storyland Studios’ 20 years of cultivating relationships with clients and partners and producing world-class projects has led to several awards across a team that now numbers 100, with offices on three continents.

With those accomplishments in mind, Ben Thompson, chief strategy officer, explains the thinking behind this year’s competition: “To recognize this achievement, rather than do the usual patting ourselves on the back, we wanted to do something different. We want to give back to the industry which has enabled us to become who we are today. In particular, we want to give a helping hand to freelance creatives who have been most impacted by COVID. It would be a great shame if talented creative people left our industry at this time, and we feel we could do something about that.”

Providing a platform for future concept designers is key to the challenge’s ethos. “Awareness, connections, and discovering talent are a relentless responsibility both the industry veterans and future talent needs to engage in,” says Hardoon. “Opportunities like this Design Challenge provide a great platform to demonstrate who, why, and how an individual can be recognized and excel.”

For more information, visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *