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  1. #1

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    How to Become an Imagineer

    I offer no answers, hence why I'm asking!
    I have been very up in the air with what I want to do with my life, and in english class we have to do a job shadowing project where we find someone in out field of choice to "shadow" for six hours of a day to find out about the job. Now this is a difficult thing to do if you don't know what you want to do with your life, so I just chose Imagineering more as a joke until I figured out what I was really going to do.
    Until it hit me: Why can't I be an Imagineer? I'm creative. I'm artistic. I'm logical and I like problem solving. I'm not fantastic at math but I find science and engineering very interesting. All of a sudden, I knew what my perfect fit in life was going to be as a career!
    Now, I face a huge dilemma with how exactly I go about doing this with my life. I know I need to go to college next year (which seems like a given but I had actually decided it wasn't for me) and I think I'm going to go for a few degrees, the first being technical theater and the second being engineering or design of some kind.
    I'm planning on calling WDI when I get home today to ask myself, but if I can skip having to deal with receptionists and people who can't help me, that would be great! Does anyone have any tips for me? Does anyone know any Imagineers I can get in contact with for my job shadow or to just talk with? Thanks, guys!
    dreams. come. true.

  2. #2

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    go to school, get a resume, get a portfolio, apply for a summer internship, apply for a job

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    Go to UCLA. Only college in the world that offers an Imagineering class, and it's taught by people who undebatably know what they're talking about because it's what they do. That's a very fun and educational start, but it won't get you a guaranteed job at WDI.

    Get really good at something relevant to Imagineering. The craft is interdisciplinary by nature, but having one thing you're best at is a good idea. Then once you're hired, you can start working your other interests into your work. Another possibility is to start off by working in the park itself and working your way up from there.

    As far as actual contact information goes, I can't help you, at least not yet.

    Best of luck! If all goes well, we'll both be hired there in a few short years.


  4. #4

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    John Lasseter said somewhere that no one belonged in WDI unless they could draw (or words to that effect). If you look at all the classic Imagineers, the one element they had in common was exactly that: they could all draw and paint.

    If I were fresh out of high school and considering a career as a Disney Imagineer, I think the smartest thing I could do is try to get into a really good art school, one that still put emphasis on fundamentals like draftsmanship and composition. Even if you don't plan on being the next Marc Davis, it's hard to imagine any area of Imagineering where you wouldn't need to grab a sheet of paper and sketch out exactly what you have in mind.

    That's just my 2 cents.

  5. #5

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    Paging Datameister to this thread. Paging Datameister.

    Bellhop, send Datameister a PM. He's taking some class at UCLA (I think) that is sort of "How to be an Imagineer" or something like that. He might be able to help. If nothing else, he might have classes and courses to study.

    If you send a PM he might have some "insider" information on who to call or a secret phone number.

    Good luck!

    EDIT: Oh nevermind...
    Last edited by Garrett240; 03-24-2008 at 08:56 AM. Reason: I just saw Datameister's post.

  6. #6

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    I always refer to this post, written by an Imagineer in response to "Chris," who was whining because Disneyland turned him down for a job (he, too, was 18). I think it answers your question well:

    Hey Chris,

    Sorry the company killed your dream... it can be rough - I know.

    At your age I walked up to an Imagineer with the swagger only an 18 year old can have, and told him I wanted a job... I can still hear his laugh to this day.

    But you know what - I didn't gripe and moan about how WDI was unfair. I didn't lay out my 7 year plan of going to Universal Creative, or working for BRC or Thinkwell Creative or Paramount Parks Design group... no, I sucked it up, decided WDI is where I wanted to be and then got back to it - I listened to those that offered advice (no matter where it came from - first person, in print, or even, heaven forbid, off of a discussion board) and I kept at it... and yeah, I spent several years at Universal Creative and BRC and Thinkwell Creative and Paramount Parks Design and other jobs while I got the experience I needed to have the swagger to walk in to WDI and ask for a job.

    And you know what - a decade later, I'm there... and I love it... and (as hard is this is for you to understand at 18 - and I know how hard it is, seems like I was just there myself!)... I now know there was NO way I was ready to be at WDI at 18. I can recognize now that everything I had to do while I waited for my chance... those are the skills and the knowledge and the experience that got me to WDI in the first place.

    Chris - I hope you get your "dream" of working on the DRR... I really do... but do me this favor - if you are an "adult" like you claim... (you are an adult, aren't you?) then show me... show us... show the Walt Disney Company that you're an adult by sucking it up, taking the advice that is given and realize that this is a business... and we only take the best. You have the passion - that's clear, and that's more important than you know - but alone it's not enough. Not by a long shot.

    Pay attention, do what the others have suggested previously and get yourself into the position to be exactly what the DRR needs when it's your time. Heck - my time was a decade in the making... sure wish it had been sooner, but it wasn't.

    You are not the first to be told "no" at 18. And you're certainly not the first to think they were owed a spot and denied. The real question is will you be one of the few to stick it out, do what the job requires, and finish the race?

    Are you adult enough to run the race?

    Or are you just going to give up on that dream?

  7. #7

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    Truly words of wisdom in that post Steve. I've seen that before somewhere, can't think where though.


    And those are basically the words I'm following. I would love to end up there, but I know that I need to hone my skills and that there are skills I still need. It's not the sort of job you just get, for obvious reasons.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  8. #8

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    UCLA isn't the only school that has an imagineering class. Pasadena Art Center has had an Theme Park Design course for years and taught by someone in WDI too. It might not be as informative as the UCLA course as it's more about designing the ride from scratch and then finishing by building a model of it. It's pretty labor intensive and doesn't actually get you in the door per se.


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  9. #9

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    Quote Originally Posted by HBG2 View Post
    John Lasseter said somewhere that no one belonged in WDI unless they could draw (or words to that effect).
    The quote:

    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

    was actually delivered and directed at Walt Disney Animation.


    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  10. #10

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    well as one that used to armchair imagineer around here yearz ago I can tell you it's tough

    I called em once and yeah they really are only going to be interested in you once you have a specialty

    anywho I'd recommend trying for the imaginations contest (I'm gearing up for it so I can enter in a year which is also one of the reasons I haven't armchaired it on these forums for a few years now)


    http://disney.go.com/disneycareers/imaginations/

    anywho my cousins husband got a job in imagineering a while ago mostly due to his combined experience of working for a company programming and developing animatronics and his job before that working as an animator for the simpsons (he also had an in because one of the people in Imagineering remembered him from animation school)

  11. #11

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    The following are taken from: http://imagineering.themedattraction...e_an_imagineer

    • Doug Wolf, Project Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering--Florida
      "Dream and pursue your imagination and goals. Do anything that stirs your creativity--read, write, draw, observe and travel. Learn what you enjoy and excel at, whether it be model-building, drawing, writing or construction. See if there's a fit. Most likely there is since Imagineering encompasses almost everything imaginable. But above all, enjoy what paths your life travels and learn from each experience."
    • Joe Lanzisero, Senior Concept Designer
      "[Executive designer and longtime Imagineer] Rolly Crump told me of some advice Walt Disney had given him: Become a student of life, be interested in everything. Be a life sponge, soaking up, observing and recording anything and everything of interest. Develop an attitude where you never stop learning."
    • Bruce S. Johnson, Research and Development
      "Never pass up the opportunity to see new things, draw things, build things, talk to experts and learn new skills. I learned how to invent machines of all kinds over the years. I've worked as an auto mechanic, machinist, carpenter, factory worker, artist, concept engineer and many other trades. Some were for money and some were just for fun, but I learned from every one of them."
    • David Durham, Show Designer
      "'Educational Path' doesn't just mean classroom teaching. I think a lot of my education came from working at Disneyland. It also came from taking courses--psycholinguistics, nuclear biology, wood shop--seemingly unrelated to what I was studying. Taking nothing but design courses might make a good designer, but taking a variety of courses will make a better Imagineer."
    • Paula Dinkel, Lighting Designer
      "Don't try to be an Imagineer! Work hard to be the best you can be at whatever you do, get an education, keep on learning, maintain your sense of wonder and discovery and have a good life."
    • Kevin Rafferty, Show Writer
      "Find out everything you can about every aspect of Disney. If you ever find yourself here, you will draw much from that knowledge. Better yet, find out everything you can about everything. If you are an artist--draw, paint, sculpt and write. If you are a writer--read, write, paint and sculpt. You never know what you're capable of doing until you start doing it. More than anything, work hard and stick with it. Remember, the only time you will find success before work is in the dictionary."
    • Bruce Bader, Scope Writer
      "There are lots of jobs here that you wouldn't normally think about or aren't normally found in other companies. Since many of these jobs don't have traditional education or experience requirements, they might be a good way to get your foot in the door."
    • Ben Schwegler, Research and Development
      "Pick a career you really like--I'm not kidding about this--even if it is something other people may tell you is not trendy, 'has no future' or seems to have a low probability of success, like art or botany. I think you can only be successful if you really like what you are doing."
    • Larry Nikolai, Show Designer
      "Don't give up. If you really want to be part of Imagineering, you will naturally keep growing while practicing and expanding your knowledge. Wander far and wide in your quest for experience. Don't just limit it to what you perceive as the world of Disney. Imagineering is always growing, too. It is always looking for new realms, styles and possibilities."
    • Mark Rhodes, Show Writer
      "Beg, whine and please."

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  12. #12

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    I write, a lot. If you read the HM threads I mention my HM-based novel from time to time. I can draw, mostly pencil sketches and watercolor when I'm in the right mood, but I'm not crazy amazing at it. (Though I can be--things like that, though, will take me literal weeks to complete, however.)
    My first degree is going to be in technical theater as more of a backup plan, but I think it will help aid me in my goal, especially with lighting and set design. I'm thinking about a second degree in engineering of some sort (probably at a trade school--I learn by watching and by doing and a classroom isn't going to be the spot for me) to help develop the other skills I'll need as a basis for the job.

    This is kind of a huge step for me. For years I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and last week it hit me that Imagineering IS an option. However eventual. I know I'm by no means ready for WDI right now, but I am bound and determined to get a job shadow with an Imagineer!! It would be a helpful step.
    dreams. come. true.

  13. #13

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    Imagineering is broken down into different departments, like paint shop, model shop, engineering, etc.. You have to be really good at certain skill, but you also have to be able to work with and be adaptable to be/with the painters, model makers, engineers, designers, sculptors etc; being versatile, "jack of all trades" in a way.

    Being an Imagineer doesn't mean you're a person who justs comes up with good ideas and makes them happen, which seems to be a common assumption that most people have.

  14. #14

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Datameister View Post
    Go to UCLA. Only college in the world that offers an Imagineering class, and it's taught by people who undebatably know what they're talking about because it's what they do. That's a very fun and educational start, but it won't get you a guaranteed job at WDI.

    Get really good at something relevant to Imagineering. The craft is interdisciplinary by nature, but having one thing you're best at is a good idea. Then once you're hired, you can start working your other interests into your work. Another possibility is to start off by working in the park itself and working your way up from there.

    As far as actual contact information goes, I can't help you, at least not yet.

    Best of luck! If all goes well, we'll both be hired there in a few short years.

    Data-
    I have to put my two cents in here to defend my Alma Mater, Cal Poly, SLO. While they do not offer any imagineering classes like UCLA does. (Which I have really wanted to take since I found out about them.) Since I chose to do my senior thesis on theme park design, I was fortunate enough to work closely with several professionals with experience in the business.

    My thesis advisor, Bob Hawthorne, was a former Imagineer who had moved on to work for other design firms. Probably his best known work outside Disney is the Eifel Tower at the Paris resort in Vegas for which he was the architect of record. He also introduced me to LHS, an architecture firm in Glendale that has many former Imagineers who work there, and who were credited as the architects of record for Space Mountain at DLP among others.

    My project was based on an actual project LHS was working on back then, for a theme park called Discovery World in Taiwan. I also got to work very closely with the former head of Universal Creative. So while Cal Poly does not offer an “Imagineering” class, it did offer me some awesome opportunities related to my interests.

  15. #15

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    Re: How to Become an Imagineer

    Hey, I wouldn't dream of dissing Cal Poly, Uncle Bob. My parents met there as students and it's a beautiful campus.

    That being said...if I were at SLO, I definitely wouldn't have gotten a chance to ride Soarin' before the attraction opened for the day and participate in a rousing UCLA Eight-Clap as we "flew" over Los Angeles.


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