For those of you who can never get enough of Disney reports and Andy Castro’s photography, here’s a D23 Expo recap with photos from Andy and commentary from Alain Littaye. ~~Rick
D23 Expo Recap: Journey into Imagineering Pavilion
The highly anticipated third iteration of Disney’s D23 Expo opened its gates in Anaheim, California for three days of non-stop excitement. This year, the Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion was dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Walt Disney Imagineering. D23 guests learned more about how the Imagineers create Disney Parks attractions and about the different departments that make up Imagineering. Thanks to Andy Castro and Nicholas Miranda for the amazing photos.
WDI Imagineer Tom Morris was the Creative Director of “Journey into Imagineering.” Tom was Disneyland Paris’ Fantasyland and Sleeping Beauty castle show producer and worked on Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios Paris and the acclaimed Cars Land in California Adventure. WDI Imagineer Dave Fisher was the Show Producer handling all of the logistics and interface.
The facade of the pavilion is partly inspired by the actual Imagineering building at 1401 Flower Street, Glendale. As you will see below, Tom and Dave and the other WDI Imagineers did a great job on this year’s pavilion.
D23 guests first enter the pre-show room where they are shown a film.
The room contains multiple screens . Audience attention is first drawn to the screen at left. Then the doors to the right blow open, revealing a screen on the opposite side of the room.
In the model section of the pavilion, D23 guests discover artwork and models of legendary attractions that never were built, like the Epcot Space pavilion project on which author Ray Bradbury had collaborated.
The 1955 Disneyland “International Street” model was a treasure that has not been displayed to the public in decades.
Just imagine if this had been built behind Main Street to the East as originally planned by Walt.
Here’s a great and very interesting model of an early concept for Epcot’s The Land pavilion!
The main ride through the attraction would have been aboard suspended balloon vehicles.
There would also have been a carousel style theater.
Next, the model of Mickey’s house for Disneyland ToonTown.
Located near the models was the “Art Library”. The Art Library was a very small walk-through experience where video screens share background information on several pieces of early Disneyland artwork such as Herb Ryman’s original pencil drawing of Disneyland that Walt Disney took to the bankers to get money for Disneyland and the original black light painting of Disneyland that Walt showed the public on television. No photos or video were allowed in this exhibit because of the delicate nature of the artwork.
WDI Imagineers had promised something related to future attractions and they didn’t lie, there was indeed something about Star Wars and Avatar lands. However, it was more like hints for the fans. For Star Wars Land there were these wooden crates, supposedly sent from the other end of the galaxy and making a stop at D23 before being opened at Imagineering. Of course, Star Wars fans were scrutinizing the crates closely for hints!
Disney was obviously not ready yet to make an official announcement and to show more of the Star Wars land concept. The code name for this Star Wars land is “Orange Harvest.” Disneyland was built in an orange grove and Florida is the “Orange State,” should we expect a Star Wars land on both coasts?
Here’s the Illusioneering Lab, showing how WDI special effects are created.
Next is the “Ride Engineering” section where D23 guests learned more about how Imagineers actually create a ride.
Disney Parks also posted this video in which Imagineer Dave Fisher tells more about “Journey into Imagineering”!
Next up is the “Architecture Imagineering” section which is about the exterior and interior architectural design of an attraction. In this case, a large number of the documents on display are related to HKDL Mystic Manor.
The Experience Development Lab introduces new technologies –among them the upcoming My Magic + magic band.
WDI Imagineers didn’t disclose a lot about the Avatar land but they did display elements that Imagineers brought back from Pandora – no kidding. These items will help them design the Avatar land rides. Beyond a few hints, the Imagineers weren’t tipping their hand about Avatar land which will open at Animal Kingdom in 2017.
Were there clues hidden in these renderings?
Next, the Show Production section and Show Animation sections of the exhibit.
Let’s have a look at the “Dimensional Design” room.
Some models or sculptures of the Astro Orbiter, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and many more….
Let’s enter the Research and Development Room!
An early concept model for Spaceship Earth!
Here’s the programming console which WDI programmers use to bring to life Audio-Animatronics like this Hat Box Ghost below.
And here are two great videos showing the new Hat Box Ghost Audio-Animatronic in action!
The WDI Imagineers did an admirable job of creating an informative pavilion even though they didn’t have the luxury of new announcements to spice things up. Sure, we’d all love to see models of Shanghai, Star Wars Land, Avatar and who knows what else, but 60 years of Imagineering is certainly something worth celebrating. With another expo on the way in two years, we can count on all those things next time. But for now, those who visited the expo have a much better understanding of how Imagineering functions, and hopefully a deeper appreciation as well.
We’ll end this report with a great video filmed by Thomas the Imagineer which shows the full exhibit including the great pre-show!
Find Andy Castro’s full report on the D23 Expo [HERE].
- Pictures by Andy Castro and Nicholas Miranda – Dateline Disneyland
- Videos: copyright Thomas the Imagineer or Dateline Disneyland
- Pictures: copyright Andy Castro, Dateline Disneyland – MiceChat.com