Going down the rabbit hole

Oneiros: An Archive for Amusement Rides and Popular Entertainment

Rollercoasters, Merry-Go-Rounds, Bumper Boats – you name it! One of our latest Local Time Machine projects lets you explore amusement rides from back in the day until today. “Archives are boring and dusty places” is officially passé forever!

Oneiros is a Sensory Marketing Research Centre by entrepreneur Alessio Calandra that induced his online archive of amusement rides and popular entertainment of the same name. Calandra’s start-up and online archive Oneiros is based on the research of the evolution of carnival rides and surrounding popular entertainment – a field of study closely connected to his personal life experiences.

Oneiros’ digital archive went officially public on 18 June 2022, and we had the pleasure to talk to Alessio Calandra to find out some more about how his love for amusement rides and popular entertainment led to founding his start-up and online archive Oneiros.

Alessio, what sparked the idea to create an online archive and business venture exploring the world of amusement rides?

I fell completely in love with the world of amusement rides when I went to Disneyland Paris many years ago: Working as a crew member in an amusement park truly is a wonderful job – it brings you joy and light-heartedness! I know because I myself was part of the staff of an amusement park called “Luna Farm” in Bologna, Italy. During my studies in economics and management of the arts at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice, I started to also conduct historical research about the evolution of attractions and amusement parks. My special interest was to explore the acoustic and sensory experience applied to the sale of gadgets in theme parks. I was extremely lucky to get to combine my personal love for amusement parks with my academic research interest. Encouraged by a professor of mine, I took the opportunity to write my final thesis “Purchase perception at Disneyland Paris: the acoustic experience and sensory applied to sales”. And just like that, I got carried off into my wonderland, quite like Alice got drawn into her wonderland! 

This was the moment Oneiros was born: Incorporating my various professional experiences such as working as a light designer in a theatrical association staging works by ancient Greek and Latin authors and my experiences at Luna Farm into all my academic studies laid the founding idea of Oneiros.

It sounds like you were fortunate and clever enough to bring your expertise and personal life experiences together in your start-up. Tell us a bit more about Oneiros and how it is connected to the accompanying digital archive. 

I refer to Oneiros as an innovative sensory marketing start-up that is based on the study and evolution of amusement rides and popular entertainment. The more research is being carried out on this topic, the more Oneiros is capable of being a comprehensive online archive on the wonderland of amusement parks. For instance, I cooperate with specific sound designers on the topic of sound archaeology and I collaborate with essencers to carry out research on certain scents – my ambition is to develop suitable software solutions with specialized companies to make these experiences enjoyable for an audience.
This online archive is a fundamental part of Oneiros: It allows me to have book indexes, digitally available photos, videos, audible material, digital (3D) objects from various museum collections, festivals, village shows, acrobats, circuses etc. and a list of all geo-referenced rides available in one spot.

Oneiros seems to be quite a complex venture. Do you have any cooperation with other institutions, and can you share a bit more about the team behind Oneiros?

Yes, cooperation is vital to us – us being a multi-professional team with broad experiences in a variety of relevant sectors. Our team offers digitizing with 2D and 3D techniques, indexing, storage and consultation. For our online archive Oneiros we cooperated with SicapWEB, a Udine-based company that offers IT consultancy activities in the supply of software and services for libraries, media libraries, photo libraries, museums, archives and multimedia documentation centers.

When I approached the Museo Storico della Giostra e dello Spettacolo Popolare (National Museum of Carousel and the Popular Entertainment) in Bergantino about my project, it didn´t take much to agree on a collaboration: I conduct my research, my studies, the digitization of the collections in the museum and the archive available, and in exchange, I have the opportunity to do my research directly on site.
Bergantino, where I am based, is a one-of-a-kind place when it comes to amusement rides: It has an attraction district home to famous park ride manufacturers. An ideal environment for me to work with cooperation partners on progressing Oneiros.

What are your plans for the future of Oneiros?

Oneiros is a dynamic and spirited venture and I have big plans for the future: Progressing Oneiros will eventually lead to entering the world of virtual reality and subsequently the metaverse. I´m convinced that the digital material representing different organizations and associations will converge in a unique place forming an organized thematic collection and the consultation of this manifold material will be completely innovative.

At the same time, my company will pursue issues concerning the circular economy, the enhancement of territory and the environment.

Alessio Calandra is the founder of the start-up and online archive Oneiros – a wonderland full of amusement rides and popular entertainment.

In case you are interested to learn more about Alessio’s final thesis “Purchase perception at Disneyland Paris: the acoustic experience and sensory applied to sales”, continue to read the academic article “From the Birth of the Soundscape Concept to the Sound Ambient in Disneyland-Paris” available below. The article was published with the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice discussing Calandra’s thesis.