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Media Parks:
The Cinematic & Televisual History of Theme Parks

Session A (July 21 – August 3, 2024)

Program Overview

In this two-week intensive program, students will explore theme park history, and the evolution of the relationship between moving image media (film, television, and video games) and theme parks. The course will examine the contexts and shared histories of theme parks and screen media, explore theoretical, industrial, and cultural issues surrounding them, and investigate how these cultural phenomena are shaping one another in today’s media landscape. The program will include lectures, screenings, discussions and guided site visits to Disneyland, Disneyland California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Warner Brothers Studios. In class, students will study case studies of theme park rides and theme park “lands” by researching and analyzing scholarly texts, reference films, television shows, and video games. Each guided site visit will also include an on-site behind-the-scenes lecture.

Through these topics, students will be introduced to the fundamental skills of college-level academic writing, practice reading comprehension on college-level academic sources, and be challenged to practice critical thinking and observation skills through several reading and writing assignments.


This program carries 3 quarter units of UC credit. Students in this track are enrolled in the following class:

  • FTV 18: Media Parks – The Cinematic and Televisual History of Theme Parks (3 Units)

Due to the intensive nature of the program, a maximum of one program absence is permitted.

Guided Site Visits

During the course, students will embark on five curated visits to Southern California theme parks: Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood and Warner Brothers Studios. Visits will be structured around instructor-guided experiences as well as required visits to select attractions and park “lands.” The required attractions/lands and will be the springboard for writing assignments and require students to connect their observations, critical media analysis, and argumentation skills to lecture concepts, assigned readings, and screenings. Students will choose specific attractions or lands as case studies for two short papers and one final paper.

These site visits allow students to have a firsthand educational experience and learn directly from the interactive aspect of theme parks. By studying the historical, cultural, industrial, and theoretical issues surrounding these spaces and attractions in-depth before encountering them, students will be well-prepared to approach these experiences from a critical and analytical perspective. Ultimately, this hands-on investigation provides students with a sense of how these interactive spaces and rides work together to create unique media experiences. While these excursions will no doubt be fun, they are first and foremost active learning experiences and sites of analysis.


This track is open to high-school students enrolled in 10th-12th grade in Spring 2024.

Online Registration

Registration opens February 15, 2024.

Please visit the Summer Sessions website for more information.

Eligible applicants who successfully submit all requirements will be reviewed and notified via email of an admission decision within two weeks. Early application is strongly encouraged.

International students must also submit:

  • Proof of TOEFL Results with score of 100 or above

I really enjoyed the course as whole. Everything put together made it an unforgettable experience. The professor, peers, TA’s, food were amazing.
This course was the highlight of my summer.

– Media Parks Student

Supply List


Students can choose to bring their own laptop or use UCLA campus resources to access computers/laptops.

If choosing to use campus resources, the student is responsible for finding the correct resources in a timely manner for assignments. Be mindful of the summer hours for campus libraries and give ample time for any laptop lending requests.

Campus Libraries and Computers information

UCLA library laptop lending program information

Lending Information on Student Technology Center in UCLA housing

Additional Details


Media Parks Session A (July 21 – August 3, 2024)

Students are engaged in activities and classes along with breaks throughout the day from 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. There will be evening classes / workshops that occur where students will be required to be present.

NOTE: All course meeting times are in Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). The program schedule is subject to change.

On-Campus (Mandatory Housing)

Due to the rigorous and intense nature of the program, the residential plan, which includes a meal plan, is mandatory for all participants. Participants will be housed in one of the UCLA residence halls, comfortably furnished and conveniently located within easy walking distance of classrooms, libraries, and recreational facilities.

Financial Aid

Qualified students attending grades 8th – 11th in Spring 2024 in the state of California may be eligible for Summer Scholars Support, a need- and merit-based scholarship offered by the UCLA Summer Sessions Office. A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available to support enrollment in SCIP/eSCIP, one Summer Course, or a Precollege Summer Institute. Summer 2024 deadline to apply: March 15.

Contact Summer Sessions

UCLA Summer Institutes
1332 Murphy Hall
Box 951418
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1418
Tel: (310) 825-4101
Fax: (310) 825-1528