Meet Disney Imagineer Terri Hardin

Written by Terri Hardin Jackson. Posted in Terri Hardin

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Published on March 26, 2014 at 3:00 am with 18 Comments

We’d like to introduce you to our newest columnist, the amazing Terri Hardin. Terri is an award-winning Disney artist and was a Walt Disney Imagineer for over ten years. She has designed attractions in France, Japan and Florida for the Disney Company. Her attraction La Taniere du Dragon, or Dragon’s Lair, was voted the #1 attraction at Disneyland Paris as voted by those who attended the Park.  Please give her a warm MiceChat welcome!

Oh my goodness! What a real pleasure to be invited write for MiceChat. I’m thrilled to be sharing Wednesdays with Bob Gurr. My articles will alternate with his every month. Bob and I have been friends and Imagineers for ages. I love this man and it’s truly an honor to share the platform with such an amazing man. We often appear together and speak on the stage at events so this is a real treat for me.

My frist article will be a bit different, as I’d like to give you a bit of background on myself.

Why Terri Hardin and why should you care what I have to say? Good question. I hope to give you an overview below and will certainly give you a deeper look at my history and projects in the months to come.

I’d like to invite you to check out this video:

Over the years, I’ve created multiple Limited Edition Disney sculpture series which have thankfully attracted the attention of collectors from around the world, as well as having designed toys for Mattel, Nickelodeon and Applause.

tink

This is a sculpture Terri created for Disneyland, “Tinker Bell’s Map” LE 2500

You might also consider me a Disney nerd as I’m an Honorary Member of the Disneyana Fan Club, the Once Upon A Classic Club, and the Carolwood Society.

Whoa! I know, right? I think its safe to say that like many of you I dreamed of becoming an Imagineer. When I finally became one it was beyond my wildest dreams! Over the course of ten years, I had the opportunity to create some amazing attractions. It’s exciting to be able to say that I’ve worked on attractions that you can ride on, walk under and sail through.

 

Dino

I’m also a puppeteer and performer, and have been a member of the Jim Henson Muppeteers for over 30 years. My performances can be seen in many Jim Henson productions, such as the TV show Dinosaurs, and the films The Flintstones, Indian in the Cupboard and The Country Bears.

I met Jim while doing a “Chicken McNugget” commercial for McDonald’s and negotiated a trip to “HA” Jim Henson’s shop in New York. It’s lucky for me that we met. More on that meeting in an upcoming article.

I’ve also contributed to Men in Black I and II, Ghostbusters, and Monkeybone, as well as to many national commercials; and was fortunate to work with Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, John Goodman, Whoopie Goldberg and Christopher Walken to name a few.

While working on Captain EO, I chased Michael Jackson all over the sound stage playing a whip warrior in rehearsals. I think you are really going to enjoy that story.

If you live on the west coast, then you’ve seen my work as the “Foster Farms Passenger Chicken,” a wacky series of commercials I’ve been working on for over 20 years. It’s a really fun job. Here’s one of the spots I worked on:

Although being a Disney artist and Hollywood performer may get me a foot in the door at fan events, it is talking about the importance of embracing and appreciating yourself and developing your inner talent that I find most rewarding. One of the first talks I gave was to the Disneyana Fan Club (DFC) and an audience of 2000 people. This is where I discovered that audiences didn’t want to hear about how my art was created, but rather about the processing of achieving success in the industry. I fully embrace the opportunity to share  the knowledge, attitude and creative spirit which are the basis for making a break in this industry.

Could this be you? Are you looking for the encouragement to tackle a life goal? That’s what I’m here for and I’d love to hear from you!

I’ve been a professional public speaker for many years now and never get tired of meeting all the wonderful fans and creatives who attend these events. It was all those fans, and their many wonderful questions that inspired me to write a book about my career: Tales from Terri: A Disney Sculptor’s life Vol 1.

terri-hardin-book

The foreword to the 2nd edition is by Disney Legend, Marty Sklar which you can find on Kindle HERE. If you are trying to track down a printed first edition, I have a few left (but it doesn’t contain Marty’s Foreword). Just let me know.

My next book is a memoir with the working title “Little Zebra,” which I will most likely change before publication. This book is about how, as a young girl, my looks made me the target of bullying and how wonderful parents, a positive attitude and creativity helped me to rise above adversity and become a Disney artist and Hollywood Performer. It’s a skill which helps me to this very day.

I’d like to invite all of you to let me know what you like me to talk about in this space.  Leave your comments below. Perhaps you want to know what it was like to be an Imagineer, or how to become one, or stories about the people I’ve been blessed to work with. Maybe you’d like to know what it was like to sail on the first Disney cruise to the west coast through the Panama Canal. Or what it’s like working on a creative assignment for long periods of time in a foreign country. Whatever it is, this column is for you and hopefully you’ll not just learn but also be inspired. 

It’s my pleasure and an absolute honor to be asked to join you here at MiceChat. Thanks again and I’ll see you in 2 weeks!

About Terri Hardin Jackson

Terri Hardin has designed attractions as a Disney Imagineer from 1987-1997. She's also a Jim Henson Puppeteer and has worked on over 42 film and TV projects including Ghostbusters & Captain EO. She currently creates Disney collectables and plays a Foster Farms Chicken.

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18 Comments

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  1. Oh wow, what a coup for Miceage!

    Terri, I very much look forward to anything you share. After my second visit to Disneyland Paris in 2 years (from Australia!), seeing Merlin’s pet in the La Taniere du Dragon is definitely in my top experiences of the Park. Always an incredible moment in that cavern!

    And as a HUUUGE Michael Jackson fan, I am on the edge of my seat to hear those stories about the late, great King of Pop, and will be gladly linking those stories to the #MJfam on the net! It still fills my heart with joy that my two biggest passions – Michael Jackson, and Disney – intersected in such wonderful Art.

    Welcome!
    -Q.

  2. Great to have you on board and looking forward to your stories. Hope you tell us about your Disney running events sometime.

  3. Ooooh this is an exciting day! Terri Hardin is just an excellent and talented person, one of the best around. It will be such a marvelous treat to hear from her. MiceChat is definitely the place to be!

  4. OK MiceChatters, you are in for a treat as Terri will tell taller tales than I do. And I just can’t wait to learn from behind the scenes of her “soft goods” side of themed design, which is sure different from my “hard goods” mechanical side of stuff. Yup…Terri and I now own every MiceChat Wednesday!

    • We need a “Like” button. It is really exciting to have both you and Terri on the Wednesday crew. Always something fun, educational and exciting to read about. :-)

  5. I have had the opportunity to hear many of Terri’s stories in person. She is as genuine and giving as anyone I have met. Thank you MiceChat for giving Terri and even bigger audience for her “tall tales.”

  6. Hi Terri, I would love to hear all about the struggles of breeding life in ideas.
    I have also seen the dragon under the castle in DLP and although it looked beautiful I was underwhelmed and actually disappointed. I guess the commercials and previews made it look more exciting then it was. Anyway can’t wait to hear about Jim and the Muppets, love them so much!

  7. Terri, THANK YOU for writing on Micechat! ! ! :)

    I’d like to read about working with Jim Henson, on Men in Black, and anything about Disney, especially what it’s like to help create an attraction.

    Like many, I’d be interested in reading about Michael Jackson, Francis Coppola, Elizabeth Taylor, Christopher Walken, etc.

    I LOVE your dragon under the castle at Disneyland Paris. I wish every Disney castle had a different one.

  8. The dragon is awesome.If the Underwhelming Studios one is half as good the Underwhelming Kool_Aid drinkers will be raving about it for weeks

    • Yes Blondie,
      Not much at today’s WDW to be excited about… we know.
      Maybe Terri can remind folks at WDW what it’s like to conceive, develope, and build a new E Ticket attraction.
      It only took a little longer to build Disneyland Paris than it has taken WDW to build the C Ticket Dwarf coaster.
      I hope Terri’s stories will remind current WDW execs of the great history Disney has had in theme park business.

  9. Hi Terri,
    I’ve had the blessing of getting to visit Disneyland Paris 3 times; once with my wife one month after it opened and twice with our kids since then.
    When my wife and were there just after Disneyland Paris opened we had the park all to ourselves because nobody was visiting back then.
    We have always set up at a Disney Hotel and used it for a base to visit Paris by train.
    Our family has always loved the castle, caverns, and dragon below. It all works together so well. The tapestries, fountain, stained glass windows, prop spinning wheel, paintings, etc all relating the scenes from Sleeping Beauty are just all done so well. Then the small flowing waterfall down to the caverns with the dragon breathing and moving while it sleeps is just amazing.
    I’d love to read anything about Disneyland Paris and Christopher Walken too.
    Glad to have a place to read about your work and experiences.

  10. The dragon in Disneyland Paris is a truly amazing creature. As one who loves has been fascinating by such creatures all my life, I must say that the dragon was is so well placed there under the castle and adds to the magic. It was one of the highlights of the park. Can’t wait to hear more from you!

  11. As somebody who is just beginning to see a little success in the entertainment industry, and who loves many of the projects you’ve worked on, I would love to hear anything you feel like sharing. Write away!

  12. Terri,
    .To you who comes to this happy place: WELCOME!
    I’m very excited to read about your experiences. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  13. Ok my brain just about imploded from the awesomness you’ve been able to work with, Terri! Jim Henson, Michael Jackson (Captain EO!!! Can’t WAIT to hear that story!)… and the dragon under the castle at Disneyland Paris?

    Terri, I am so excited to call you a fellow MiceChat contributor/colleague! Welcome! :D

  14. Great to have you aboard Terri!

    Regarding subject matter, it would be great to hear about some of the more challenging components of working through imagineering politics and what that really looks like for someone who feels they have talent to contribute but lands on the lower rung of the ladder. Also, I would be interested to see what challenges working with bigger names brings in terms of creative input or decision making. Who is really in control when you are involved with superstars? Also, how does the reality of working for imagineering compare to the fantasy that many of us have of working with/for Walt. It’s a much different company now and many talents seem to come from external contractors hired for the best price as opposed to actual Disney Imagineers who design and build Disney’s attractions in house. It seems like the “company person” is a dwindling minority now.

    I look forward to your articles.

  15. Welcome Terri! Looking forward to your articles! I have also had the pleasure of visiting Disneyland Paris when my family lived in Germany. It is truly the best done Magic Kingdom there is! I’m looking forward to your discussions on designing the park and the unique challenges of creating the Dragon under the castle. That was my son and mines favorite detail in the park, and I wish the other Disney parks had more surprises like that!