Engineering the Ultimate Ride: Hannah Rose’s Quest to Push the Limits of Theme Park Innovation

| May 10, 2023

A Taylor Swift theme park? For Rose, a leader in USC’s themed entertainment student group, why not?

USC Viterbi Senior Hannah Rose

USC Viterbi Senior Hannah Rose


Like millions of people around the world, Hannah Rose, a senior studying electrical and computer engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, has been interested in theme parks since childhood.

But unlike most, her fascination with rides like Peter’s Pan’s Flight at Disneyland goes far beyond mere enjoyment. She now wants to help create them. 

“As a kid, I went to Disney World and Disney Land all the time, and I learned that there’s actually a career possibility in this,” explained Rose. “So my goal starting late middle school was to explore this interest.” 

Her love for theme parks was cemented by a specific, memorable experience that she vividly recalls from her time in high school.

“Disney World had created this new land called, Pandora: The World of Avatar, inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park,” said Rose. “There was this new ride called, Avatar: Flight of Passage, a flight simulation ride, with massive screens and stunning CGI graphics. It had this 360-degree screen, and you’re on the back of the Avatar creatures, [the Banshees]. It was incredible. I was speechless. This is the moment I think of when I think of giving others their jaw-dropping moment. I want to help create this experience for people.”

Despite not having any previous experience in this field when she started college, Rose did not allow it to hinder the pursuit of her aspirations of one day creating thrilling experiences for people visiting theme parks. 

“I picked up electrical and computer engineering as my major, even though I had no experience in this, but I knew if I wanted to prepare for a career in theme parks, I had to start from the ground up,” Rose explained.

TEA@USC is a student organization at the University of Southern California and part of the larger Themed Entertainment Association.

TEA@USC is a student organization at the University of Southern California and part of the larger Themed Entertainment Association.

At USC, Rose found the perfect student organization for her theme park interests and immediately got involved with the Themed Entertainment Association’s student chapter at USC, also known as TEA@USC, her freshman year. She says TEA@USC allowed her curiosity to be nurtured and her affection for theme parks to be cultivated. She now serves in a leadership position as the organization’s events director.

“I just landed an internship with Disneyland,” Rose emphasized. “Since I went to Disney World and Disneyland often while growing up, I had always pictured myself working at Disney from such a young age. Disneyland was the first Disney theme park I had ever visited, so when I landed this internship, I knew it was a step in the right direction.” 

Through guest speakers, workshops, and other events, TEA@USC provides students interested in theme park industry careers with valuable internship and networking opportunities. Rose says her involvement in the student organization enabled her to gain invaluable insights into the industry.

Gaining extensive knowledge about the theme park industry, specifically from the club’s senior members, inspired Rose to reciprocate their generosity to younger students. 

“I want to teach underclassmen how to get an internship in the industry and how to network and things like that so that younger people can learn about the industry just as I did,” Rose said. “My role in the club is to bring in professionals from the industry to give presentations to the club. Last Fall, we welcomed a creative director and associate producer from Knott’s Berry Farm, who gave an incredible presentation on the park’s transformation into Knott’s Scary Farm. We have also welcomed several other industry professionals who have all shared a wealth of insight into their careers and the projects they have worked on. The most recent was an executive creative director from Walt Disney Imagineering, who talked about the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser in Orlando.” 

Rose is currently exploring the diverse range of tasks and responsibilities engineers have within the vast theme park industry. Although she has yet to determine which specific job suits her, she is open to all work opportunities in this field. 

“My sights are no longer just set on the big companies like Disney and Universal. I’ve learned that there are hundreds of vendor companies that specialize in certain aspects of theme park creation, and all work together on the huge attractions at Disney and Universal parks,” said Rose. Outside of TEA@USC, Rose is also involved in other organizations and work opportunities. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers at USC, serving as a leader in the student organization since her sophomore year.

TEA@USC is a student organization at the University of Southern California and part of the larger Themed Entertainment Association.

“I wanted to find a community of females in engineering,” Rose said. “One where people encounter the same problems and experiences.”

Designing a theme park requires a crucial element of creativity, and Rose undoubtedly exhibits this by revealing her ideal park to create — a theme park based on Taylor Swift.

 “I think I would be perfect for helping design this park,” said Rose. “Theme parks in general, are crafted from storytelling. Instead of watching a movie or reading a book, you can step into the story at these theme park lands. Taylor Swift has so many stories within her music.” 

Some of Rose’s ideas include a ‘Fearless’ land that tells the story of Taylor in high school and has a Nashville country music theme. Other ideas she has are  a ‘Speak Now’ land that is purple and sparkly, a ‘Red’ land that includes images from that album like autumn leaves and coffee shops, a ‘1989’ land that looks like New York City and is visually consistent with her 1989 concert tour, a ‘Reputation’ land that has snakes and is consistent with her Rep era, and a ‘Folklore/Evermore’ land that has a forest and lots of the same imagery as in her ‘Cardigan’ and ‘Willow’ music videos.

“Each of Taylor’s eras is so vivid and immersive thanks to her music videos and lyrics full of imagery,” said Rose, “I think these could easily be envisioned as a theme park.”

Rose has many aspirations when it comes to the theme park industry, and she doesn’t plan on stopping until she fulfills her childhood dream of making it to the top of this field that has provided her with such an abundance of joy and thrills.

Published on May 10th, 2023

Last updated on May 16th, 2024

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