Ask any Imagineer what makes WDI different from other theme park designers, and you’ll probably hear one word: story. Anyone can design a roller coaster, but it takes WDI to take a roller coaster and tell the story about being late to an Aerosmith concert. Think about some of the stories that populate the Disney theme parks.
The Haunted Mansion. Just about every community puts together a “haunted house” at Halloween, but they lack a cohesive story. They may be good at scaring you around every corner, but they do not inspire the kind of love and loyalty as Disney’s Haunted Mansion. The story of being on a tour of the haunted place, with 999 ghosts–and room for one more–is what sets this show apart.
Space Mountain. Think there is no story to Space Mountain? Think again! You are a space explorer, you get in your craft, go for launch, zoom through space, and experience re-entry.
Pleasure Island. A bunch of nightclubs and restaurants? There’s more to it. Almost every building featured a plaque that told part of the story of Merriweather Pleasure, a wealthy business operator who operated warehouses and even a sail manufacturing operation. Mr. Pleasure’s businesses were destroyed in a powerful storm that also caused his disappearance. The empty buildings became the home to the various clubs and restaurants.
The number of different stories found in the Disney theme parks is probably as numerous as the many Hidden Mickeys that populate the parks. We will look at these as we explore the works of Walt Disney Imagineering in coming articles.