Imagineering Disney has a great look behind the scenes at the Frontierland Shootin’ Gallery. These sorts of articles are always worth reading, and Imagineering Disney is a great source of them.
Walt Disney Imagineering enjoys a reputation as some of the most creative, cleverest people around. While much of WDI’s greatest works take the form of entire theme parks, there are plenty of instances that showcase WDI’s magic.
Take, for example, the smallest little effect you can observe at Disneyland. If you’re at the Disneyland Rail Road New Orleans Square station, and it’s a bit quiet, you can hear the sounds of a gathering going on. The sounds come from a window on an “apartment” in New Orleans Square. You can find a similar instance of this “sound imagineering” on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland. Halfway toward the hub, on the right, is a short extension off of the street. Go all the way to the end and you’ll hear the sounds of a hotel guest or two.
These effects are not hard to do, and they don’t blow your mind. They do, however, add a certain depth to the theme park, a little hint of magic. You’d never really miss them if they were never there, but when they are there, your mind quietly takes notice. And that’s what makes these effects so cool.
Take a look at this photo. Here we have Walt himself, with a scale model of the Matterhorn at Disneyland. Sleeping Beauty Castle can be seen next to it, right in front of Walt. Take a look at the details:
- The Skyway cables are visible going into the mountain (and coming out the back).
- The Matterhorn model has its full range of colors–those of the mountain, and those of the trees on its side.
- The photographs on the wall behind show different views of the mountain.
Disney Imagineers have traditionally gone to great lengths to create their attractions and theme parks. They just don’t “throw up a roller coaster” and paint it green like the Incredible Hulk. Even as late as the 1990s, WDI did all sorts of research to create the Animal Kingdom theme park–and it shows in the details. Take a look at this post from Disney Shawn for an in-depth look at those details. In fact, I recommend reading Shawn’s blog religiously. His examinations of Disney parks and their “plussing” are a real asset to the Disney fan community.
Look for more examples of these great images from WDI’s history in the weeks to come.
Disney fans usually get to see only the end result of the Imagineering process. Today is different.
First up, Imagineer Jack Blitch spoke at a NASA summit meeting where he talked about how WDI designs attractions and some future plans. (h/t to Stitch Kingdom)
Second, an interview between one Imagineer and another reveals the approach WDI uses when designing. (h/t to Shiny Shiny)