Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter
Joined: April 1992
||Posted: Jan. 02, 2007, 7:17 am
Hi, welcome to the Disney Echo! My husband RichKoster is the Site Admin here. He and I used to attend Official Disneyana Conventions, and some of the speakers at those conventions were senior Imagineers. So while I might not be an expert, I'll take a general stab at answering some of your questions and giving you some direction. Realize: I'm only answering approximately, and pointing you in a general direction where you can find out more info. As you read on, you'll get the idea.
And if anyone else interested in Imagineering is also interested, the below stuff is for you, too.
Just take what you need, leave the rest.
First, read around in some of the past threads in this Forum. They might contain links to such places as good books to read, internship opportunities in Imagineering once you're in college, and other things. These are clues, these are leads. You want to get into certain fields of study in college, if possible colleges from which Disney recruits, and if a job in Imagineering is meant to be then it will happen because you pursued certain course, internship and life experiences. Read up in the books. Take a close look at the internships and notice the fields of study. Read between the lines, put two and two together and take on the general direction you see in people's professional backgrounds. If you need to get your grades up, or take electives or majors in high school to qualify for some of these programs, then simply make note of that and consider following that path. "Imagineering" embraces a lot of different specialties that inter-relate, such as architecture, construction engineering, industrial engineering, electrical engineering, set decoration and set design (you might have to design a stage that fits into a courtyard, for instance), lighting, audio equipment and where to place audio speakers and what kind of speakers, heating and air conditioning systems, where to house rooms where Cast Members (Disney employees) either work to operate the attraction, or use their private restrooms, or have a break room plus entry/exit so the public doesn't see them, costuming, understanding building and fire and electrical codes, understanding human psychology in how people use buildings and how to design buildings so a lot of people can fit into them but also enter/exit with safety and flow from one building to another, landscaping, what paints work best in what climates for interior and exterior walls so they don't peel or crack and won't bleach out so quickly in bright sunlight.
Second, see if you can join the National Fantasy Fan Club the Club for Disneyana Enthusiasts. This is an international non-profit social club of people who enjoy collecting Disney memorabilia. My point: They have an annual convention each July near Anaheim, California where Disneyland is. Their conventions feature Disney speakers on a wide variety of subjects, including Imagineering. Disney collectors enjoy the parks, and there can be a lot of collectibles that have to do with rides, etc. The URL is here at the NFFC's homepage. This is a small convention, sometimes these folks have meet and greet and autograph sessions so you can meet the speakers and briefly pick their brains about the design process or how to break into the business. At the Show and Sale you can see among other things Disney-related books including about the design process. Reading up on the lives of the Imagineers or the overall creative decision making process will be instructive for you. There are several local chapters of the NFFC too, if one is near you you can join and check them out, or simply join the national organization and see if your family will attend the July conventions with you each year so you can see these folks. They also have a mini-convention each mid-January, but unless you're already in Southern California (it's a weekend-only event) that can interfere with attending school or college, schedule conflict, but it depends on your schedule, of course.
Third, subscribe to a great magazine but it only comes out a couple of times a year, called The E-Ticket. When Disneyland first opened you didn't ride the rides freely, you bought a ticket booklet, and exchanged a ticket for the ability to board a ride. The tickets were labeled by letter of the alphabet. An A Ticket would get you a ride in a carriage on Main Street, some simple or tame attraction. An E-Ticket is the best and finest rides of Disney, would be the equivalent today to ride Space Mountain or Splash Mountain, etc. So the magazine names itself after the E-Ticket. The magazine is about the history of Disneyland, but since so many of Disney's parks have the same attractions among them reading about how Disneyland was built and added on to over the decades would be a good way to understand the creative process of taking a concept to fruition. Since the magazine is a "labor of love" of one man, he puts material together and publishes it by himself since his brother died, so only an issue or two comes out per year. However, back issues are all on CD-ROM, and those are highly worth owning if you want to know what it takes to be an Imagineer. E-Ticket Magazine website link, notice there is a way to send them E-mail or a postal letter if the site's existing info leaves you with more questions, just click and explore around, consider at first ordering a single back issue to sample it or one of the CD-ROMS which collect several past issues in one place. Highly recommend the CD-ROMs!
Fourth, a site member here known as TV Kirby regularly posts notices about Disney theme park-related TV shows coming on TV, mostly on cable/satellite. When you notice in our Currently Active Topics little scroll window at the top of the page that he's added a new week's worth of listings, go over, make a note, record on TiVo, DVR or VCR these shows. To us and many on Disney Echo, these are shows that have rerun and rerun for a couple of years, but they might be new and fresh to you, so do consider taking a look. Many times they have Imagineers or experts in theme parks commenting about the Disney parks on the shows and they show behind the scenes of either the design process or what it takes to put on that ride. Do not turn down the "Great Hotels" series by Samantha Brown on Travel Channel, since Imagineers design Disney hotels and hotel restaurants, too. Most of these shows will be on Travel Channel, a few on Food Network, and one "Modern Marvels" dating to 2005 on History Channel. "View between the lines" of these shows, and you will learn plenty of insight into the design process. Head to the Disney TV Forum of our site, look in the Forum Index, there is a Sticky (permanently attached to the top of the Forum Index so it's easy to find) of a link to TV Kirby's website, just bookmark his site or monitor when he adds a new week's worth of shows. Oh, and don't turn down the Disney Cruise Line show that airs periodically on Travel Channel, there is a lot of "Making of" stuff that Imagineering had a hand in doing to design the ship for guests, so you'll want to take in those details, too.
Fifth, and related to the first, is read up on the life and times of Walt Disney. Neal Gabler just published a new biography of Walt in late October 2006, it's still in bookstores now. Reading up on Walt Disney and what made his head tick and what motivated him... He was everyone's boss, and they took their creative cues from him. He challenged them to design and build things no one had ever seen before, no one knew if they could be built, but Walt said try anyway and do it, and they came up with innovations that are the standard of excellence and design today for Disney and even Disney competitors. A book about Walt prior to Neal Gabler's that is also very good was written by Bob Thomas "Walt Disney: An American Original", and might be at your public library, or Amazon.com under "used books". Walt's surviving daughter, Diane Disney Miller, is designing a museum about her father in the San Francisco area, and published a book through Disney about her father in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2001. You'll want to look that up, too. And there is a documentary based on teh book on home video and DVD. Also look up the DVD documentary "Frank and Ollie", about the lives of two Disney Animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Animated films became park attractions, so knowing the background of the animators and classic Disney films is important.
Sixth, and related to the fourth: A lot of Disney home videos have extra features to them that include explanations of how things got done. Watch the extra features, listen to any audio commentary. You can go to Ultimate Disney.com here, which is a fan site for Disney home videos and movies. As the classic Disney animation or live action movies get released to home video look for their reviews, especially about the extra features. "The Little Mermaid", for instance, is fairly newly re-released to home video, has an extra feature about how a new attraction based on that film was designed. "Pirates of the Caribbean I: The Curse of the Black Pearl" has extensive extra features about how the Disneyland ride was designed. A series of home videos for the Disneyphile collector, The Walt Disney Treasures Collection (comes in aluminum tins in limited release in two releases per year) has a title "Your Host, Walt Disney" that just came out in December 2006 and shows the past of Disneyland and Walt as a TV show host, and another title released a couple of years ago "Disneyland USA" is about the opening of Disneyland. The extra features about the "Making of...", to Disney fans, are as wonderful as the shows or movies or cartoons themselves. Disney, when they think about constructing new attractions, delves first into it's own film library or notes from past Imagineers or unfinished ideas that Walt made notes of before he died. So they provide this kind of "background" info on many home videos Disney sells thinking it enhances and rounds out the viewing experience for those who buy the video.
Seventh: As mentioned there are plenty of books around, but they are niche interest books. Head to Amazon.com and "Search" for Disney imagineering, or poke around on MousePlanet.com or LaughingPlace.com (two Disney fansites based in California), they have met Imagineers and Animators and might have links to many titles of books you can then hunt up and acquire. You can even send a letter or an E-mail to the NFFC and ask for suggestions of titles, just be patient since it's all volunteer and they have a mini-convention going on mid-January in Anaheim that they are planning and setting up for.
|First Question: What would be a way to create a ride, like storyboard wise, start with a.... end with... ?|
Starts with a story that has a beginning, middle and an end, that you see inside your head could be real buildings with real functioning figures or track to it, and can be realistically constructed as to safety, enjoyment, merchandising and promotion opportunities, competitive edge vs. other parks, and staying on some sort of budget. In recent years Disney doesn't go on lavish ride construction spending sprees as they did after Michael Eisner became CEO in 1984 (in 2005 left as CEO) . They are cost-conscious nowadays. So they put together designs and they know engineering and construction techniques, and how much everything costs to hour labor of construction workers down to how much a carton of nails would cost. They then add all that up, see how much it costs, and try to hone it down. Might mean some good ideas get tossed out due to the expense involved, but it's good because sometimes only the very best ideas survive. If you do your homework, as listed above, the thing you come up with time and time again "Story." Have to tell a good story. A really good story. Even hotels and restaurants, when themed, have a story to tell, or fit into the overall theming of a location and help tell the location's story. Some courses of study to help with the story-telling process: English, and any literature courses, and theatre-drama courses (you don't have to act on stage, but being part of set design and construction would help greatly). To help with the design process: Art, theatre-drama, anything that puts you in "construction" if your school has wood shop or construction techniques, or volunteering in your community at such charities as Habitat for Humanity. You want to see real construction techniques including architectural blue prints and how to get from the blue print stage to really constructing in a way the building is of practical use to people. Eventually you decorate, so interior design enters into it, too, and has it's own creative process.
|Second Question: What should i put on these pages or drawings/scripts that would kind of help me later on in becoming an imagineer or applying.|
You show logical progressions of how your beginning, middle and end would look, each point shows what your target audience would see or hear or smell (Pooh attraction at WDW and DL has a "smellitzer" device that really does add a smell to experience the attraction, in this case the smell of honey, shops on Main Street that sell candy and baked goods have "smellitzer" devices that pump the smell of chocolate out over the sidewalk to attract passers-by). You can see examples of this on some of the Travel Channel, Food Network or History Channel "Modern Marvel" shows or "making of..." extra features on the Disney home videos. You also have enough construction background experience when doing a storyboard that not only do you tell a story, but you can describe the design elements and construction techniques and building materials used in each part of yoru storyboard.
|Third Question: How do i rule out ideas, what is fantasy and what is a good idea??|
You don't work isolated, you work in a team atmosphere, other members of the team have various areas of expertise, and the department head knows how to pull ideas, budgets and construction time frames, and knows what upper management and the CEO would want from an attraction. A lot of collaboration takes place, but a lot of criticism doess, too, and sometimes frankly tempers can flare and conflicts arise. To argue isn't bad, it's a part of the creative process because everyone cares so much and the finished product has to be on-time, on budget and as great as Disney's reputation can be. Not all ideas can be built, something by nature will have to be left out or modified. Not all your ideas will be built, something by nature will be left out or modified by others. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Developing life experiences where you work with others on any kind of creative outcome would train you in this collaborative give-and-take process. Theatre would be good as a background, and so would be volunteering for Habitat for Humanity helping to build a house, playing on a sports team, or any sort of community activity where each person does a part and you end up with a cohesive end result. You ideally want to place yourself to see creative processes, frankly see the disagreements that are a natural part of the process, and notice the collaboration and compromises that take plece. You need to learn to take criticism and not take it personally, but take critiques and turn that into positive energy. In a creative atmosphere where a team with many responsibilities have to each work in unison with others, they see the larger picture, may disagree how to get from Point A to Point B, but they discuss it, get on common ground, give up a little to get a lot in the end. You also need to have open mind about everything, not necessarily one perfect way to proceed, there can be many ways to proceed, some practical and some not, some expensive and some more economical, and when someone makes a suggestion you simply plug that into the mix, take it to a logical progression, and think openly and honestly whether that might work or not, or work with some modification. You cannot think inside of boxes. Sometimes the boxes are placed on you, such as budget constraints or time deadlines. So change your thinking, and try to think of ways that budget can work and a great attraction, park, hotel, restaurant or store design can in fact come about given that budget, or given that construction time-line. Learn to be flexible and a team-player and to associate with creative people doing creative endeavors, they feed off each other and give each other creative energies to move forward.
If you pursue even an nth of any of the above, you'll find your questions are answered better than I could do and you'll be on a n academic and perhaps a career path to fulfill what you'd like to do as a vocation.
I hope this helps!