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  1. #1

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    Mar 2011

    Walt Disney Imagineering’s 60th: Craft of Creativity

    Disclaimer: While I took lots of notes for this panel, a lot of what I wrote down was paraphrased and or summarized (and/or could be wrong). Most things I wrote down may not have been in the exact words of the Imagineers. Also some portions of the panel are incomplete. There were times where I wasn’t sure what they were saying or what they were talking about. In this panel, they seemed to have talked about a lot of WDW attractions, which I unfortunately am not very familiar with. If you were at the panel, please correct or add anything that may be wrong and/or missing!

    The moderator for this panel was Chris Montan. He was joined by Joe Lanzisero, Eric Jacobson, Kathy Mangum, Daniel Jue, Joe Rohde, and Tom Fitzgerald.

    Before the interview began, Joe Lanzisero talked a little about Imagineering and working for Disney. He said that they aim to entertain.

    Chris started off the panel asking each person what they did before working for Disney. Joe Rohde said he was a troublemaker. In high school, he was dared to do the set design for “Tempest” and that’s how he started off interested in this field. He also mentioned that he’s a very budget conscience person.

    Eric Jacobson said he always loved Disneyland. He auditioned for the parade, and was hired as a Christmas tree. But somebody got sick and he later was “promoted” to be the rear end of the Jungle book elephant.

    Tom Fitzgerald started off doing attractions at Walt Disney World. He became interested in Imagineering and tried his hand on making models. He then interviewed with Marty Sklar and showed Marty one of his models. Marty told Tom that he’ll hire Tom if he never makes another model again. Tom said that even though Marty hated his model, Marty saw his potential and that was why he hired him.

    Kathy Mangum worked at Disneyland in Adventureland. She was an English major and one day saw an internship(?) available to be a writer at Disneyland and she applied and got the job.

    Daniel Jue originally aspired to be an engineer because of his father. However, in high school, he was involved with stage crew and loved it. When it came to applying for college, at first he selected engineering as his major but thought about what he actually liked to do and then decided to major in Theater instead.

    Chris then asked the panel what were some things you need to do to become an Imagineer. Eric said that you need a degree of talent and passion. Stick with what you’re doing, and don’t say no to any opportunities.

    Joe Rohde also mentioned that “you have to be the type of person who is willing to share” because you have to share and convey your ideas.

    Joe Lanzisero said you need to be comfortable at a desk and draw. Also you have to love people to do this job.

    Daniel Jue mentioned that he used to be a scenic carpenter for the Disney stores. He said the job got kind of repetitive and so he decided to try out Imagineering. He also mentioned that you have to “love what you’re doing.”

    Chris then asked Joe Rohde how did set designing prepare him to do projects like Aulani. Joe Rohde said that set designing is like an illusion. (I didn’t catch the rest of what he said. He kind of digressed)

    Chris next asked Joe Lanzisero what keeps the Imagineers going? Joe Lanzisero said that you have to find what is going to be entertaining. You also have to figure out the core pieces that’ll connect with the audience emotionally.

    Chris asked Eric what is the hardest part of his job. Eric jokingly said, “Working with Kathy.” The hardest part of his job is prioritizing and balance.

    The last question Chris asked Joe Rohde is how do you create something that didn’t exist anywhere on the Island (referring to Aulani)? Joe said he had to first ask what makes Hawaii, Hawaii? The answer is it’s Hawaii. Joe said that it was important to involve a lot of Hawaiians and learn about them and their culture. Then after, he had to think about what Disney knows how to do and figure out what can Disney do with the Hawaiian people’s story?

  2. #2

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    Re: Walt Disney Imagineering’s 60th: Craft of Creativity

    After asking the panel questions, Chris opened the floor to let the audience ask the panel a question. Below is the Q&A:

    Q: Is Tom a beach boy? (I’m not sure if I wrote the question correctly as I wasn’t sure what the person was talking about)
    A: Tom said that for “Horizen”(?), they needed somebody to play the “sub boy”(?) and they figured Tom could play the role.

    Q: How is your experience working with Tokyo Disneyland?
    A: Daniel said it was great and he worked on Honey Hunt and the Pirates enhancement for Tokyo Disneyland

    Q: What is ‘Creative Lead’?
    A: Joe Rohde said it’s making sure the project is going forward while figuring out what’s working and what’s not.

    Q: Will the ‘Disco Yeti’ get fixed?
    A: Joe Rohde said that the Yeti is a giant, complicated machine. But he will work on it! … somebday. He will try to fix it.

    Q: Not really a question but somebody told the panel to please don’t let the corporate side of Disney take away what makes Disney, Disney.
    A: Joe Rohde said that there are no bad guys and the company is filled with hard working people trying to do their jobs. The company also has to make the shareholders happy.

    Chris also mentioned that having John Lasseter being involved with Disney is a great addition to the company. John loves Disney and his passion makes the company stronger.

    Q: What is the most bizarre project ever pitched? And what’s a bizarre project that was pitched, and worked?
    A: Joe Lanzisero that he remembered being involved in an “imagination competition” for a high school and he was a judge. He remembered for one of the entries, he was given a box and inside the box was filled with bizarre things like a pool noodle. The idea was to use the items to ‘communicate like an alien.’

    Eric remembered an idea by someone titled the “Lost World.” The idea was that you go on a boat, then go inside a dark temple, come out and say, “I guess the world is still lost!”

    Q: What percent in the Imagineer’s job is artistic and technical?
    A: Joe Lanzisero said it changes day to day.

    Kathy said that there’s not really a difference between someone who is artistic versus someone who is technical. They’re all in the end creative.

    Daniel mentioned that they’re all problem solvers.

    Q: Any fond memories of projects?
    A: Kathy said every opening day for an attraction. You’re both sad and happy about it. You work hard on something and for so long, it’s a sad moment when you “let go.” But they take great joy when guest enjoy their work.

    Eric said it’s like raising a child and sending them off to college. It’s a bittersweet moment. However, a project never really finishes because they always look at how they can improve the attraction.

  3. #3

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    Re: Walt Disney Imagineering’s 60th: Craft of Creativity

    My thoughts and opinions of the panel:

    While the panel was interesting, I didn’t really think they covered the topic “Craft of Creativity.” The panel kind of digressed a lot and talked more about how to be an Imagineer. Also, a lot of what they talked about were about WDW attractions. Since I’ve never been or experienced any WDW attractions, I didn’t really know what they were talking about.

    Also, after being in the other panel “Walt Disney Imagineering’s 60th: Working with Walt,” it was interesting to compare how things were like back when Walt was running the company versus the company today. It seems like nowadays the company is very “corporate.”

    Anyways, I only have one more panel to type up! I'll hopefully get it up tomorrow!

  4. #4

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    Re: Walt Disney Imagineering’s 60th: Craft of Creativity

    Quote Originally Posted by wdifuture89 View Post
    Do you have Kathy's slide? I was far and couldn't see them well.
    No I don't unfortunately. I missed both Daniel's and Kathy's slide. Sorry about that

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