Heading to Spectrum 2019

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be presenting the STC Rochester Spectrum 2019 conference on Monday and Tuesday.

You can find the conference schedule here.

On Monday I’ll be delivering a presentation and Tuesday I’ll be facilitating a workshop, both about how to apply The Imagineering Pyramid and The Imagineering Process to technical communication.

Not sure how many people who read this work in that field or would be going to that conference, but if that’s you, I look forward to meeting you!



The Imagineering Toolbox at InterChange 2018


On Saturday October 27, I will be delivering two presentations at InterChange 2018, a conference organized by the New England chapter of the Society for Technical Communication.

The first presentation is based on The Imagineering Pyramid, and the second based on The Imagineering Process.

Session 1: Imagineering and Technical Communication: A Match Made in Disneyland

Walt Disney Imagineering is the division of The Walt Disney Company responsible for designing and building Disney theme parks—engineering the magic that millions of experience each year at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and other Disney parks around the world. This presentation explores an “Imagineering Pyramid” of 15 theme park design principles, and how those principles can be applied to technical communication and information development to help us create effective and engaging experiences for our audiences.

Session 2: Designing Your Experience the Walt Disney World Way

From the moment you enter a Disney park—whether it’s at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or other Disney resorts around the world—you are immersed in an experience specifically designed to transport you to another world. In the words of Walt Disney, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” But how does Disney create such incredible experiences? Through a process called Imagineering—”the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how.”

This presentation explores the process Disney’s Imagineers use to design and build Disney parks and attractions, and how technical communicators can apply that same process when designing engaging and effective user experiences for our audiences. This session will also include an interactive workshop where we apply the Imagineering Process to an example experience offered by one of the attendees, so come prepared to participate and share your ideas.


I’m looking forward to these sessions as they provide an opportunity to talk about how to apply the ideas in the Imagineering Toolbox to a new field.




The Most Magical Place on Earth!


I’m heading to Walt Disney World today for a family vacation. The plan is to try to take our time and have a (somewhat) relaxing visit.  Either way, I know we’ll have a great time!

Among some planned highlights, we’re going to check out Flight of Passage and Pandora, Frozen Ever After (haven’t had a chance to experience that yet) as well as the recently updated Pirates of the Caribbean, featuring the new auction scene.

I’m also hoping we can luck into a soft opening of Toy Story Land (or at least Slinky Dog Dash).

See you real soon!

Imagineering Process Cover, An Announcement, and a Quick Progress Report

I’m thrilled to share the cover of the next book in the Imagineering Toolbox series: THE IMAGINEERING PROCESS: Using the Disney Theme Park Design Process to Bring Your Creative Ideas to Life.


I’m also very excited to announce that author and former Imagineer Jason Surrell will be writing the Foreword for this book. Jason is the author of some of my favorite Disney theme park books including “Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies”, “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic”, and “The Disney Mountains: Imagineering At Its Peak”.

[I’ve shared this on social media, but wanted to share it here as well.]

Progress Report:

I’m making good progress on the book. I just finished the “Imagineering Management and Leadership” chapter last night. Next up is my “final thoughts” chapter, followed by some work on the appendices, the bibliography and references, and a couple of rounds of proof reading and editing.

Getting very close now.

I’ll post another update when I know more about when the book will be available.



Sneak Peek at The Imagineering Process

Here’s another sneak peek at The Imagineering Process. This time I want to share a glimpse of what the diagrams will look like in the published book (the diagrams I’ve posted so far have been my working prototypes – my models if you will).

I also want to tease some of the ideas in the book, specifically the adaptability of the process. It’s definitely NOT a one-size-fits-all process.

First, here’s a look at the overall process:



This next diagram shows how the Imagineering Process is flexible and iterative:Imagineering_Process-4_Steps-Iteration







Lastly, this diagram shows how the process works at both the macro and micro levels:



Note: These are drafts and may change a bit, but the overall look and feel will remain the same.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think!

The Pyramid in Practice: Attention to Detail and Kali River Rapids

Imagineer Joe Rohde‘s Instagram feed is like an Imagineering Master Class, providing a steady stream of unique and fun insights into the areas of theme park design and placemaking.

One of his most recent posts is an excellent example of how the Imagineers use Attention to Detail to help tell their stories, and how the meaning of some details can change over time. This post deals with the placement of a boombox and stack of cassette tapes in the dispatching office at Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom.

As Rohde writes, the original Creative Intent of this detail (yes, even individual details within show scenes have their own Creative Intent) was to illustrate that the people working in the dispatching office were living in roughly the same time period as Guests. However, because that particular show scene has not been updated since it was first installed in the mid 1990s, to modern Guests the boombox and cassette tapes now suggest the dispatching office is from a time gone by.

It will be interesting to see if this ever gets updated as Rohde suggests, and if so, how.

Take a look:

View this post on Instagram

This is a shot of the dispatching office in Kali River Rapids. Certain details begin to shift their meaning because the research trips that led to this design took place in the mid-1990s, which is getting to be a quarter century ago. For example, there is a boombox on the shelf and a little stack of cassette tapes next to it. While the boombox was not brand-new when we installed it, it was meant to indicate that these people were living contemporary lives, and have access to electronic equipment, and were not living in some kind of fanciful ye olde long time ago. However, now, a boombox and cassettes are themselves strange antiques from some jolly olde long time ago. I promise you, that even people in a small village in Nepal probably have better audio gear than this. I mean…they have smart-phones after all!! At some point, it is certain that these props will probably need to be upgraded… Replaced with props that while still not being new, are contemporary enough to show that we are talking about people who live with us, in our time. That is an important message, because, even though our first research trips took place a quarter century ago, every one of the conservation crises represented in every one of our stories has gotten worse since we started…so we still need to make our stories pointed in the right direction. If rainforests, and elephants, and gorillas, and rhinos, and indigenous cultures, all become a thing of the past, then Disney's Animal Kingdom will become a fantasy park… Not the adventure into reality that it is. #disneysanimalkingdom #animalkingdom #kaliriverrapids #dak #conservation #wildlifeconservation #design

A post shared by Joe Rohde (@joerohde) on

You can find this post on Joe Rohde’s instagram feed here.

If you’re interested in Imagineering and themed entertainment, I strongly recommend following Joe on both Twitter and Instagram.


Thoughts? Tell me what you think in the comments!