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American Design on Eastern Theme Parks

charles easley

     To take an idea and see it through is hard... I mean come on. Even the most simple of tasks can become an idea and stay in the atmosphere as a 'possibility'. Not for Jason Rubek. He said 'I am going to help design a theme park in China' and freaking did it. None the less he created his own LLC to make it happen. Talk about drive. We had to seek Rubek out and ask a few questions for our readers. Meet Jason, a bad ass dude with some crazy skills to boot. 

So you design theme parks? Did you study that or was that something that came after school?

The technical term for my job title is: Area Development Designer. What’s more fun to tell people, is that I do Design Consulting for a theme park. It’s not something that I studied specifically, and getting here after university has been a journey. I’ve gone from installing dish washers underneath mouse-poop infested kitchen counters in Colorado, all the way to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, and Beijing to see and work on some of the best theme parks in the world.

Where did you go to school? What is your degree?

I went to Colorado State University and received a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture in 2009.

You are currently in China, tell us a little about that job.

I came here on a six-month contract which quickly turned into a twelve-month contract. Now it’s potentially three years. I was originally sub-contracted by my company located in southern California for the first 12 months and since that time I’ve transitioned to creating my own company located in Hong Kong with contracted design services in China. My client is a wealthy Chinese businessman who’s been developing residential, commercial, and entertainment properties for the last 10 years in a small northern city of 3 million people in Fushun, China.

What exactly are you designing for the theme park?

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Pretty much anything my client asks for, which can be an absurd amount of expectations at times. I’ve done all types of conceptual designs for architectural elevations, site plans, food carts, ride packaging, performance shows, and theming for area development.  I’ve spent the last six months doing area development for ‘Adventure Tales’ which has been a lot of fun. I’ve written stories about drunken pirates and stolen treasures, drawn octopus infested diver helmets which act as food carts to sell seafood, and developed the ride packaging and theming for a ‘Twin Phoenix’ roller coaster which is a thrill ride that culminates with the roller coaster entering a massive ruined temple where they’ll see a huge flaming bird light on fire for the finale. (Editor's note: that sounds badass.)

You are working as a contractor with your own company. Tell us about that journey to create your own LLC.

I incorporated Rubek Doodles Limited © in Hong Kong. It was pretty fun to design a logo and get an official company seal and all that. But it’s not an easy journey. Things were made especially difficult for me getting a foreign business bank account. There are a lot of hurdles for Americans looking to do business overseas.

I have a new found respect for business owners though. I can’t overstate enough how difficult and stressful that process can be. My business structure is pretty simple too, it doesn’t get any simpler than contract service agreements, so I can’t even imagine dealing with merchandise, suppliers, shipping, and anything else that goes along with retail or food services.

What is the best experience you have had in China?

I had the chance to run my first half-marathon here – on the Great Wall of China. I doubt I’ll be topping that experience any time soon. Other than that, the best experiences in China are the times I get to leave the country There are so many things to see in Southeast Asia, and living here gives you the opportunity to travel. I’ve been to six different countries and countless cities and I’ve had to chance to see some pretty amazing things.

To go off the last, what would be the most difficult thing to get use to in China?

In a city of almost three million people it’s impossible to find any Mexican food. The next city over, the province capital and a city of almost 11 million, and you’ll be lucky to find some guacamole. Still no burritos or tacos though. Man….

In a single word what does community mean to you?