One of the most exciting things about working at Walt Disney Imagineering is seeing the passion that Imagineers have to create: they are curious, constantly learning, collaborating en masse, and always looking for new and engaging ways to immerse guests in a story. Sometimes Imagineers use new technologies or invent completely new technologies. Other times, they focus conversations on broadening perspectives on the amazing people and cultures that make up our wonderful world, and everyone who visits a Disney park.
Three Imagineering leaders joined the Expo of the International Association of Amusement and Theme Parks (IAAPA) to share various ways Imagineers continue to augment story-based experiences. This annual industry event connects people and organizations that have been dedicated to the themed entertainment industry.
Walt Disney Imagineering President Barbara Bouza began the presentation with a discussion about the importance of inclusion. The experiences that Imagineers create reach guests from all over the world, and that means taking into account many different perspectives and with which they could connect and enjoy. Details are important, and collaborating with a variety of backgrounds and interests allows Imagineers to create in the most authentic way.
“Harmonious,” our spectacular new nightly show that premiered last month at EPCOT, is a great example because it includes cultures from around the world. More than 240 global musicians and artists shared their talent and passion for reimagining iconic Disney songs in more than a dozen languages. In one scene in particular, Barbara shared how Imagineers commissioned the work of a multigenerational family in India to create Indian puppet theater puppets that were used to develop the animation for The Jungle Book. . We are very inspired by the people who contributed these interpretations of the classic Disney stories!
Considering inclusion, we are reimagining attractions and spaces in our parks and accompanying fans on the trip. More recently, we’ve completed improvements to Jungle Cruise and are moving forward on an attraction inspired by “The Princess and the Frog” for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. Barbara also took a look at our vision of a reimagined Mickey’s Toontown coming to Disneyland Park, and shared her optimism about the recovery of our industry, but also about the next-level experiences that everyone is creating and that visitors from all over the world will enjoy.
Imageryering’s portfolio executive for Walt Disney World Resort, Mark Kohl, spoke of several ways the Imagineers are increasing capacity, while keeping guests soaked in the story. It started with the positive impact of Disney Skyliner, which added a valuable ability to get guests to reach the magic faster. He also shared that offering a variety of hotel options and large-scale entertainment allows us to expand the Disney experience day and night. Finally, Mark shared how the Imagineers are leveraging existing infrastructure to create one of the largest inland roller coasters, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. This story will begin before guests get into the very innovative travel vehicle, and we can’t wait for guests to experience it next year.
Walt Disney Imagineering was recently named by Fast Company as “one of the best jobs for innovators,” and Loyal Pyczynski, an executive at Show Systems Studio, gave everyone a taste of this environment. He shared: “In order to evoke our magic in the real world, iterative material, mechanical design, creative art direction and intelligent show techniques must be put on top of invisible technology. “. From drones to advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, he pulled the curtain of technology behind recent projects, including the X-wings that flew overhead. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Stuntronics robot, web-slinging technology, one of the most sophisticated implementations of gesture recognition machine learning, and a personal and fan favorite, a “real” lightsaber.
A special “thank you” to IAAPA for continuing the great support to our industry and creating opportunities to meet and connect with so many that we admire and respect. Our collective drive is motivated by the creation of unforgettable experiences for people around the world. The possibilities are endless!