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Imagineering Factoid: Test Track

Test Track is 5,246 feet long. One mile is 5,280 feet. Test Track is just a hair under 1.6 kilometers.

Imagineering: a definition

I•mag•i•neer’•ing (i-maj’e-nir’ing) n. 1a. a blend of creative imagination and technical know-how. 1b. Such combination utilized in creation, usually of Disney theme parks & attractions. See Disneyland (CA), Walt Disney World Resort (FL), Tokyo Disneyland (Japan), or Euro Disneyland (France). [ME imaginer < OFr. Imagineor < Lat Imaginaritor < Imagenium, design skill.]

Although this definition that once appeared on WDI merchandise is now outdated with the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland, it’s still one of my favorite definitions.

An Imagineering tour

Ever wanted to visit Walt Disney Imagineering’s offices in California? If you are a Disney Cast Member, it’s easy. Drive yourself to 1401 Flower Street in Glendale, right off of I-5, and present your Disney employee ID at the reception desk. You can visit the cafeteria and Mickey’s of Glendale, the exclusive employee-only store that features Imagineering-logoed merchandise. (Most of us mere mortals have to resort to eBay to get that kind of stuff.)

If you’re not a Disney Cast Member–and you don’t know anyone at WDI who can get you in for a visit–your only real option is Google Earth (or Google Maps in your web browser). Fire up either one, and type in 1401 Flower Street, Glendale, California. After a moment or four, you should see a map. If you click on Satellite View in Google Maps, you’ll get the bird’s-eye view.

The pin location marks a small parking lot for the main entrance to WDI. Take a look at the street view in Google Maps and you’ll get a nice view of the nondescript building. You could drive right past it and never realize what it is. There’s no sign to announce the magic that takes place in this complex. If you pull in the parking lot and take a gander at the front door, the building’s street number sign might look familiar.

When I visited WDI in 2001, we were able to visit Mickey’s of Glendale by going to the WDI cafeteria, out the doors into a courtyard, which we crossed to reach the building housing Mickey’s of Glendale. We were advised not to wander any further than that. 🙂

The current satellite view of the WDI complex shows there is (or was) some earth-moving going on, so I cannot say for sure where MoG is at this point. It was housed in a trailer, and whether the trailer moved or MoG moved into new space is unknown to me. (Anyone know?)

As I dig up more information on different parts of the WDI complex, I’ll pass it on.

Imagineering.org in 2011

This blog has not received nearly the attention it deserves, so one of my resolutions for the new year is to post here at least weekly. Thanks to all of the readers in 2010!

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2010. That’s about 29 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 10 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1,018kb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was October 11th with 132 views. The most popular post that day was How to become an Imagineer.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were hiddenmickeys.org, disneyinsider.com, google.com, nsstudio.co.uk, and ryanchurch.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for disney imagineering, walt disney imagineering, imagineering, haunted mansion, and imagineers.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

How to become an Imagineer June 2010
5 comments

2

WDI FAQ June 2010
3 comments

3

Bookstore June 2010
1 comment

4

About/Disclaimer June 2010

5

What is Imagineering? July 2010

It’s all about the story

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.

What is Imagineering?

Just what is Imagineering, anyway?

Ask any Imagineer, and you will probably hear that it is the combination of creativity with technical know-how. Imagination+engineering. Simple, right?

Or maybe not so simple. Many people can imagine things, and some engineers can be creative in ways you would not expect. When it comes to Imagineering, especially Walt Disney Imagineering, there is much more to it.

Around WDI there is an old joke: How many Imagineers does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is, Does it have to be a lightbulb? Imagineers take the notion of thinking outside the box way beyond the limits.

The best way to understand Imagineering is to take a look at what the Imagineers at WDI do. And that is just what you will find here in the coming days and weeks.

Everybody neat and pretty? Then on with the show!