Disney Theme Parks Wiki

{{Infobox Disney resort

| name       = Disney's Asian Resort

| logo       = disneysasianresort.jpg

| logosize   = 250px

| caption    = Illustration of the never-built property

| location   = [[Magic Kingdom]] Resort Area

| type       = Deluxe

| opendate   = {{start date|1974}} (planned)

| theme      = [[Thailand]]

| roomnumber = 500–600

| operator   = [[Walt Disney Parks and Resorts]]<br>([[The Walt Disney Company]])


Walt Disney Imagineering (also known as WDI or simply Imagineering) is the design and development arm of the Walt Disney Company, responsible for the creation and construction of Disney theme parks worldwide. Founded by Walt Disney in 1952 to oversee the production of Disneyland Park, it was originally known as WED Enterprises, from the initials Walter Elias Disney.

The term Imagineering, a portmanteau, was popularized in the 1940s by Alcoa to describe its blending of imagination and engineering, and adopted by Walt Disney a decade later to describe the skill set embodied by the employees of WDI, known as Imagineers.

Imagineering is responsible for designing and building Disney theme parks, resorts, cruise ships, and other entertainment venues at all levels of project development. Imagineers possess a broad range of skills and talents, and thus over 140 different job titles fall under the banner of Imagineering, including illustrators, architects, engineers, lighting designers, show writers, graphic designers, and many more. Most Imagineers work from the company’s headquarters in Glendale, California, but are often deployed to satellite branches within the theme parks for long periods of time.


Imagineers are governed by a few key principles when developing new concepts and improving existing attractions. Often new concepts and improvements are created to fulfill specific needs. Many ingenious solutions to problems are Imagineered in this way, such as the ride vehicle of the attraction Soarin' Over California. The Imagineers knew they wanted guests to experience the sensation of flight, but weren’t sure how to accomplish the task of loading the people on to a ride vehicle in an efficient manner where everyone had an optimal viewing position. One day, an Imagineer found an Erector set in his attic, and with this old childhood toy, he was able to envision and design a ride vehicle that would effectively simulate hang gliding.

Imagineers are also known for returning to ideas for attractions and shows that, for whatever reason, never came to fruition. These ideas are often reworked and appear in a different form--like the Museum of the Weird, a proposed walk-through wax museum that eventually became the Haunted Mansion.

Finally, there is the principle of “blue sky speculation,” a process where Imagineers generate ideas with no limitations. The custom at Imagineering has been to start the creative process with what is referred to as “eyewash”--the boldest, wildest, best idea one can come up with, presented in absolutely convincing detail. Many Imagineers consider this to be the true beginning of the design process and operate under the notion that if it can be dreamt, it can be built.

Imagineers are always seeking to improve upon their work--what Disney called “plussing.” He firmly believed that “Disneyland will never be completed as long as there’s imagination left in the world,” meaning there is always room for innovation and improvement.


Over the years, Walt Disney Imagineering has been granted over 115 patents in areas such as ride systems, special effects, interactive technology, live entertainment, fiber optics, and advanced audio systems. WDI is responsible for technological advances such as the Circle-Vision 360° film technique and the FastPass virtual queuing system.

Imagineering is perhaps best known for its development of Audio-Animatronics , a form of robotics created for use in shows and attractions in the theme parks that allowed Disney to animate things in three dimensions instead of just two. The idea sprang from Disney’s fascination with a mechanical bird he purchased in New Orleans, which eventually led to the development of the attraction The Enchanted Tiki Room. The Tiki Room, which featured singing Audio-Animatronic birds, was the first to use such technology. The 1964 World's Fair featured an Audio Animatronic figure of Abraham Lincoln that actually stood up and delivered part of the Gettysburg Address (which was incidentally just past its centennial at the time) for the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln exhibit, the first human Audio-Animatronic figure.

Today, Audio-Animatronics are featured prominently in many popular Disney attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, The Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, and Muppet*Vision 3D. Guests also have the opportunity to interact with some Audio-Animatronic characters, such as Lucky the Dinosaur, WALL-E, and Remy from Ratatouille. The next wave of Audio-Animatronic development focuses on completely independent figures, or “Autonomatronics.” Otto, the first Autonomatronic figure, is capable of seeing, hearing, sensing a person’s presence, having a conversation, and even sensing and reacting to guests’ emotions.

The Art of the Show[]

Over the years, Imagineering has conceived a whole range of retail stores, galleries, and hotels that are designed to be experienced and to create and sustain a very specific mood--for example, the mood of Disney's Contemporary Resort could be called “futuristic optimism,” which is readily apparent given the resort’s A-frame structure, futuristic building techniques, modern décor, and the monorail gliding quietly through the lobby every few minutes. Together, these details combine to tell the story of the hotel.

Imagineering is, first and foremost, a form of storytelling, and visiting a Disney theme park should feel like entering a show. Extensive theming, atmosphere, and attention to detail are the hallmarks of the Disney experience. The mood is distinct and identifiable, the story made clear by details and props. Pirates of the Caribbean evokes a “rollicking buccaneer adventure,” according to Imagineering legend John Hench, whereas the Disney Cruise Line’s ships create an elegant seafaring atmosphere. Even the shops and restaurants within the theme parks tell stories. Every detail is carefully considered, from the menus to the names of the dishes to the Cast Members’ costumes. Disney parks are meant to be experienced through all senses--for example, as guests walk down Main Street, U.S.A. they are likely to smell freshly baked cookies, a small detail that enhances the story of turn-of-the-century, small town America.

The story of Disney theme parks is often told visually, and the Imagineers design the guest experience in what they call “The Art of the Show.” Hench was fond of comparing theme park design to moviemaking, and often used filmmaking techniques in the Disney parks, such as the technique of forced perspective. Forced perspective is a design technique in which the designer plays with the scale of an object in order to affect the viewer’s perception of the object’s size. One of the most dramatic examples of forced perspective in the Disney parks is Cinderella Castle. The scale of architectural elements is much smaller in the upper reaches of the castle compared to the foundation, making it seem significantly taller than its actual height of 189 feet.

Theme Park Projects[]

Since its 1952 inception, Walt Disney Imagineering has created eleven theme parks, a town, four cruise ships, dozens of resort hotels, water parks, shopping centers, sports complexes, and various other entertainment venues. Currently, WDI is developing a number of new projects, including an expansion of Fantasyland in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Outside of the theme parks, a complete overhaul of Disney Stores was planned in 2009 with the help of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Disney was hoping to move away from the traditional retail model and toward more of an interactive entertainment hub.

In mid-July 2009, blueprints and concept art for a Fantasyland expansion leaked online, and Disney confirmed the rumors at the September D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. Some aspects of the refurbishment will be open as early as 2012, and it is set for completion in 2013. The expansion, which will double the current size of Fantasyland, will feature a greater focus on the Disney Princesses. Belle, Ariel, and Snow White will all have dedicated sections within the land where guests can experience highly interactive character meet-and-greet sessions in immersive movie environments. There will be two new restaurants, the full-service Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Beast’s Castle and the quick-service Gaston’s Tavern. The current Ariel's Grotto area will be expanded to include a new attraction called Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. In the middle of the expansion will be a new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride, featuring a new ride system that allows mine carts to swing back and forth. Snow White's Scary Adventures will be replaced by Princess Fairytale Hall, where Cinderella, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Aurora will have meet and greets. The expansion will also feature an updated Dumbo ride with a doubled guest capacity and an interactive queuing system that will keep guests entertained while they wait for one of the park’s most popular attractions, as well as a rethemed version of Goofy's Barnstormer known as The Great Goofini.

Current Imagineering Projects[]

Notable Imagineers[]

  • Alice Estes Davis - Designed costumes for Audio-Animatronics in many rides, including it's a small world and Flight to the Moon.
  • Bill Martin - Helped design the monorail, Fantasyland attractions, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Walt Disney World.
  • Bill Novey - Helped create the special effects business for themed attractions by creating a special effects department for WED Enterprises in the 1970s. Oversaw the effects for Epcot Center and Tokyo Disneyland. At Disney he invented over 300 projectors and helped inspire a new wave of special effects and innovations, including first use of holograms and vector-scanning laser projections in a theme park.
  • Bill Cottrell - Known as "Uncle Bill." He was the First President of WDI and later became President of Retlaw
  • Blaine Gibson - Chief sculptor who created many Audio-Animatronics figures, including most in the Hall of Presidents, as well as the Partners statue found in the hubs of Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
  • Bob Gurr - Responsible for the designing of ride vehicles for much of Disneyland's history.
  • Bob Weis - Lead designer of Disney's Hollywood Studios, Shanghai Disneyland, and the $1.1 billion renovation of Disney's California Adventure Park.
  • Claude Coats - Designed the sets for Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Adventure Through Inner Space, If You Had Wings, and many other classic attractions.
  • Harriet Burns - WDI's first female Imagineer; helped design Audio-Animatronics attractions like the Enchanted Tiki Room and designed the Plaza Inn.
  • Herb Ryman - Noted for his numerous and distinctive conceptual renderings, many of which served as the principally guiding concepts for Disney attractions and environments.
  • Joe Fowler - Helped design both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
  • Joe Rohde - Chief designer for Disney's Animal Kingdom, as well as many of Disney's resort hotels; noted for his distinctly exotic style, use of elaborate detail, and penchant for cultural accuracy.
  • John Hench - Most famous work is Space Mountain's exterior design; also worked on Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, and the overall design of EPCOT Center, in addition to multiple other projects. Worked also on the selection of color palettes for many of the projects during his lifetime.
  • Ken Anderson - Worked on most of the original Disneyland Fantasyland attractions.
  • Marc Davis - Distinguished Imagineer noted for his stylized character design and comedic "sight gags;" designed most of the characters in the Jungle Cruise, The Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Carousel of Progress, Country Bear Jamboree, America Sings, and many other classic attractions.
  • Marty Sklar - Served as scriptwriter and various other leadership roles in Walt Disney Imagineering; had a hand in the design of nearly every Disney theme park ever built.
  • Mary Blair - Distinctly stylistic Imagineer, known for designs for it's a small world, the massive murals in Disney's Contemporary Resort, and the murals overlooking Disneyland's Tomorrowland of 1967.
  • Morgan "Bill" Evans - Served as Chief of Landscape for Disneyland, especially noted for his unusual and innovative landscape design for Disneyland's Jungle Cruise.
  • Sam McKim - Responsible for creating sketches of the early Disneyland attractions including Main Street, U.S.A.
  • Steve Davison - Most noted for his work on Disney entertainment spectaculars, such as parades, firework displays, and Disney's California Adventure Park's World of Color.
  • Steve Kirk - The lead designer of Tokyo DisneySea, considered by many to be the finest theme park ever built.
  • Richard Irvine - Master of planning and designing attractions.
  • Robert (Bob) Jani - Best known for the creation of the Main Street Electrical Parade and the Electrical Water Pageant.
  • Roger E. Broggie - Oversaw development of Audio-Animatronics, CircleVision 360, WedWay Peoplemover, Viewliner, the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad, the Disneyland Monorail, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and dark ride transportation systems.
  • Richard and Robert Sherman - Created musical scores such as "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" from the Carousel of Progress, "it's a small world" from the attraction of the same name, and "In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" from Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room.
  • Rolly Crump - Known for his re-design of Disneyland's Adventureland Bazaar, the Tower of the Four Winds kinetic sculpture, and much of Epcot; noted for his richly stylized design style.
  • Tony Baxter - Oversaw the design of some of Disney's most famous modern attractions, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Journey Into Imagination, and Disneyland Paris.
  • Wathel Rogers - Known for programming and designing Audio-Animatronics.
  • Xavier "X" Atencio - Most famous works include the songs "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" for Pirates of the Caribbean and "Grim Grinning Ghosts" for the Haunted Mansion.
  • Yale Gracey - Best known for the invention of special effects and new attraction technologies, most famously for the Haunted Mansion.
  • Wing Chao - The lead designer for decades' worth of Disney-owned hotels, including many of those at the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as the ships of the Disney Cruise Line.

Sources & External Links[]