Hosted by The Ohio State University Theme Park Engineering Group, their Design Competition gives undergraduate students passionate about the themed entertainment industry the opportunity to showcase their talents and skills. Over a few weeks, teams develop a theme park land presentation to submit to a panel of judges.
For the Summer 2020 Design Competition, teams are tasked in creating an immersive, fully themed land based on an artist from history. Our team chose to theme our area to the art of Yayoi Kusama. Out of the 14 teams participating, we were the First Place winners. Learn more here!
Welcome to Infinity Gardens!
Our story begins in the forests of Matsumoto, where Yayoi Kusama’s childhood gardens sit. The gardens serve as a vessel for Kusama's creative mind, shaping and molding the landscape to the forms she imagines. Following her departure later in life, an old couple, Mr. & Mrs. Taisho, continued caring for the garden. The flora has now grown to immense sizes, taking on unique patterns and shapes.
Now open for visitors of all ages, guests can experience the harmony of nature and Kusama’s imagination. Across 10.7 acres of land, the immersive area places guests in the middle of a unique world where they can find: Majestic walking trails, A dark ride, An hourly light show, Two dining venues, Multiple shopping opportunities, And much more!
Master Plan
Our master plan focuses on organic paths, and accentuates and evokes the different areas of vegetation typically found in a garden.
The Pumpkin
Towering over the Infinity Gardens is the "weenie" of our park: a giant pumpkin covered in dots. As the "weenie", this pumpkin entices guests towards it due to its massive size. The Pumpkin is inspired by Kusama's signature collection of pumpkin sculptures.
Within The Pumpkin resides our sit-down restaurant and signature dark ride. The Carve is our sit-down dining experience, with the interior boasting roots and dotted tendrils along the walls and ceiling. Guests enter through a carved out entrance. By elevator, guests are brought through two floors of balcony and booth seating.
The Carve Sit-Down Restaurant
The Carve is the more expensive dining option in the land, with entrée prices ranging from $25-$40. The specialty dish is “The Root”, crispy fried taro potato ring filled with an assortment of vegetables and your choice of beef or chicken.
The food is inspired by Japanese-American fusion cuisine, combining traditional and modern dishes. The menu itself takes its cue from the surroundings, with minimalist representations of Kusama's dots as framing.
Beyond Pumpkins: INTO the elements of art
Opposite the wall of The Carve, a peculiar crack in the wall leads into our signature attraction. Beyond Pumpkins: INTO the elements of art highlights the 7 elements of art through four unique pieces of artwork inspired by Kusama. Accommodates riders of any height, but anyone under 42” will need to ride under supervision.
Finding their way out of the pumpkin’s interior, guests walk through a greenhouse into a hidden mirror maze within a shed. Guests then find themselves within a forest with overgrown vegetables, as pumpkin ride vehicles approach the loading area. The ride track winds itself throughout the show pieces in each set, actively immersing guests in the environments. ​​​​​​​
Beyond Pumpkins features a brand new ride vehicle system. Similar to a teacup, the ride vehicle spins on a central axis allowing a 360 experience of the attraction. The vehicle is guided by a two inch thick rail, and has four wheels to propel itself. 
Each pumpkin car allows for up to four guests to sit comfortably, with a sliding door to allow guests to enter an exit. Due to the low accelerations of the ride, by ASTM F2291, a seatbelt is not required for the attraction. The trains consist of three pumpkins, giving 12 riders per cycle. The attraction lasts about 3 minutes, so the ride has a capacity of 1680 guests per hour.
Dotted Paths
Mr. & Mrs. Taisho have mapped out a series of paths winding around the nearby waterfalls. Guests are invited to explore the trails of Isao Falls, and experience the harmony of art and nature. Included in the experience:
- Blooming Flower Playground: Kids can bounce and play on large flowers.
- Kusama Drawing Center: Various arts and crafts that reflect her work are provided. 
- Isao Falls Walking Trails: Hike around the waterfalls through serene woods.  
- Harmony Circle: Enjoy impressive statues and overlook the entire park.  
- Island Splash Pad: Cool off in the summer months on the island splash pad. 
- “Love Flies Up To The Sky” (L.F.U.T.T.S.) Encounter: Come face to face with the 2019 Macy’s Parade float.
As guests exit from Dotted Paths they are able to purchase merchandise at the companion store. Items which correspond to the different installations of the area are sold here.
Naoshima Field
Down the central path sits another dotted structure: A tent with the sign “Naoshima Field”.  Named after the Japanese island famous for Kusama’s pumpkin sculptures, this area serves as our signature merchandise location. While the primary store is within the tent, guests are welcome to wander into the pumpkin patch beyond.​​​​​​​
“Dotted” among the decorative pumpkins in the patch are the signature merchandise items for the park, the Infinity Pumpkins. These delightful centerpieces open up, revealing lights that seem to reflect down forever.
The Hymn of Life
The Hymn of Life is an hourly show held within The Pumpkin. It is a 10-minute exploration of Japan’s classical music, featuring spherical colored lights synchronized to an original soundtrack. Each color is connected to a specific instrument. In the final show, each sphere will be a solid color, with black dots, mimicking Kusama’s “Hymn of Life” infinity room. 3-4 of each colored ball hangs from the ceiling, and a scrim-covered pair of mirrors in the walls hide several more, creating an infinity effect.

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