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(Kevin) Rafferty is one of 1,000 people who work as Imagineers, creating and designing the attractions for Disney theme parks around the world. His specialty is dreaming up ideas, writing storylines for rides and shows, and directing talent. Some days he cries, "Pinch me!" as he marvels at the creative people he gets to work with, including engineers, architects and audio technicians.
"I'm off in the blue sky all the time," said Rafferty, part of an elite team of dreamers called the Blue Sky Group.
Rafferty grew up in north Orange County, got a job washing dishes at a Disneyland restaurant, earned a bachelor's degree in art from Cal State Fullerton and dreamed about becoming a Disney animator.
Q. With Disney's purchase of Pixar, John Lasseter becomes principal creative adviser of Imagineering. Pixar has already worked with Imagineering on several attractions, but how might this effect what we see in the parks?
A. I think it will influence things, but I don't know if it will change things that much. We have good momentum going now and so many ideas on the boards. I think when Lasseter comes by, he's going to help move them along, and we'll love to have his input.
But even before this, we were at the beginning of a renaissance for Imagineering. It's something the creative group started among ourselves, saying 'Let's go for it. Let's do the best work we can possibly do.' It's understanding that when guests come to the parks, they want Disney. They want quality, immersive, family-entertainment experiences. So instead of trying to do new, hip things that maybe aren't so Disney, we do things that are Disney, in a new way that maintains the integrity of what Disney can deliver.