As the tourism industry rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, students can now position themselves to be leaders in the themed experience industry where they’ll create world-class experiences for guests of all types.
A new master’s degree in themed experience launching at the University of Central Florida this fall will teach students how to bring a story to life with courses on show set design, show writing, modeling and simulation, and producing. Themed experiences are created across the globe in theme parks, zoos, museums, retail stores, exhibitions, immersive hotels, restaurants and even virtual worlds.
“This new degree builds upon the strength and diversity of UCF with its world-class programs in engineering, art, theatre and hospitality management. It’s all here in Orlando, the perfect location for a program of this kind,” says Peter Weishar, professor and director of themed experience at UCF.
In close proximity to Central Florida’s theme parks and high-tech innovation hubs, UCF has built strong relationships with the tourism, hospitality, engineering and design industries, offering students a chance to learn from renowned industry professionals in the international center of themed entertainment.
Orlando in 2019 welcomed 80 million tourists who added an estimated $80 billion to the economy, lending to a robust job market for graduates. In Central Florida alone prior to the pandemic, there were about 11,200 themed experience jobs with about 400 unfilled, according to Americans for the Arts. Nationally, there were about 900 unfilled positions with an expected salary of $75,000 to $100,000 for candidates with a master’s degree.
“We expect great things from our master’s students who will be uniquely qualified to have a profound and positive impact on the field,” says Weishar.
Although the hospitality and tourism industries took a hit due to COVID-19, they are expected to bounce back as mask and travel guidance is modified for vaccinated persons. The Leisure and Hospitality sector is expected to have the strongest average job growth now through 2024 with a 4.8 percent increase, according to the UCF Institute for Economic Forecasting.
This new two-year master of science degree builds upon the success of UCF’s master of fine arts in theatre degree that offers a themed experience track. Courses have been filled in the popular MFA program since its launch in 2019.