Frequently Asked Questions about Walt Disney Imagineering
Where is WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering) based, and how do I contact them?
The main offices and management of WDI are based in Glendale, CA. To contact them, call or write to:
Walt Disney Imagineering
1401 Flower Street
Glendale, CA 91221
WDI’s headquarters are very non-descript. You could drive by them and possibly not realize it.
Do they have other offices in other cities?
Yes, they have offices in Burbank and production facilities in Tujunga, CA. They also maintain field offices at the parks in Orlando, Tokyo, and France.
There used to be research and development offices in Long Island, NY and Massachusetts. The Florida division that used to be located in Celebration, Florida was closed and attached to the Walt Disney World field office. The other divisions (NY and MA) were closed in 2000.
Is WDI the same company as the parks or studios?
No, each Disney business unit operates with separate management under the Disney Company umbrella. WDI, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios, The Disney Store, etc. are all separate companies.
Are Imagineers called Cast Members like employees are in the parks?
In general, the only employees of the Walt Disney Co. that are called cast members are those that work in the parks and the Disney Store. The employees of the Disney Development Company in Florida were the exception. Since they recently merged with WDI – Florida, they are now Imagineers although some still refer to themselves as cast members.
Does WDI do internships?
Yes. Check out WDI’s official internship page at Disney.com.
If I want to be an Imagineer, what education or experience do I need?
Education and experience are both important to WDI but considering the wide variety of jobs there, the real answer is to get the education appropriate to the specific job. They need people to be really good at a specific job but having multiple skills is a major bonus. See also How to Become an Imagineer.
Are any of the Disney attractions or shows not created by WDI?
Yes, WDI does a great deal of subcontracting these days. Most major attractions and shows are WDI but not all. As an example, a company called BRC Imagination Arts has been responsible for the post show to World of Motion and Test Track at Epcot as well as the animation tour at Disney-MGM Studios. Much of the actual fabrication and construction is subcontracted as well.
Does WDI create anything other than theme park attractions and shows?
WDI has been responsible for theme hotels, some Disney Stores, some of WDW and Disneyland Paris’ other resort attractions, and even non-Disney projects like Ballys-MGM monorail in Las Vegas, the PeopleMover at Houston Intercontinental Airport, museum displays, restaurants and even part of the Olympic ceremonies. WDI also developed the architectural lighting for the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and designed a lounge inside the airport.
Is there an official website for WDI?
Not that I know of currently.
What are the steps in the creation of a Disney attraction?
According to literature sent out by WDW, the steps are: storyboard, script, concept, show models, sculpture, show set design, graphics, interiors, architectural design, molds and casting, wardrobe and figure finishing, electronic and mechanical design and manufacture, show sets and prop construction, animation, audio, special effects and lighting, and engineering. I personally don’t think this is in the correct order and parts are missing, but I think it best to present it here as they did.
What are some of the other names and divisions of WDI?
- WED Enterprises This is the original name of the company Walt Disney organized to create Disneyland. The letters stood for Walter Elias Disney.
- Design and Production (used to be MAPO) Manufacturing And Production Organization is located in North Hollywood. It originally started as the division of WED responsible for Audio-Animatronics. The first Animatronic built by WED was the robin in the 1964 film, Mary Poppins. The success of the film and the robin lead to the name MAPO (MAry POppins). After the division moved to its larger site, the name became the acronym it is today.
- Information Resource Center (or WDI Library) This library is maintained by WDI for research by the Imagineers on their various projects. It has the same address as WDI.
- Florida, Tokyo and Paris Divisions WDI maintains small divisions in the actual park locations. These divisions tend to scale way back on staff or disappear when nothing is going on at those locations. They are basically field offices from what I understand.
- Tujunga The Tujunga facility (in Burbank) is the old MAPO production facility. This consists of a warehouse-like building where they make things like the cars for Test Track, and an assortment of work areas where they build Animatronic figures and do the initial programming. There are also office spaces and a cafeteria. According to Disney.com, this division also builds the sets used in attractions from models created in Glendale.