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:

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!

Even More New Items for my Imagineering Library

I recently added a couple more items to my Imagineering Library, and as I am want to do, I thought I’d share some pictures.

The first is Disneyland: Inside Story by Randy Bright.


Like Disneyland: The Nickel Tour I found this on eBay at a “reasonable” price, and can’t wait to dig in. Most of the books in my collection are focused on Walt Disney World, and I’m glad to be adding some Disneyland books to my library.

The other new addition is a documentary about Disney Legend and former Imagineer Rolly Crump called The Whimsical Imagineer: The Incredible Life of Rolly Fargo Crump.


This is a great (but perhaps too short) film about Rolly and his work with the Disney company. For those interested in learning more about Rolly, I would recommend his book It’s Kind of a Cute Story and the More Cute Stories series of audio books in which Rolly shares, well, more cute stories about his work with the Disney organization (the latest volume is about one of his post-Disney projects, Knott’s Bear-y Tales).

Take Care!

Heading Off to Disney World!

You may recall me posting about the “Help Us Bring Our Music to the Mouse” fundraising campaign for an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World (see this post).

Well, that trip is no longer upcoming – it’s happening today! This week I’ll traveling to Walt Disney World to chaperone a trip with our local high school music department.

Music to the Mouse

The high school marching band will be marching in Magic Kingdom on Friday, and our A Cappella groups will be singing at Disney Springs on Sunday.

Music and Disney Magic – A Perfect Combination!

I may post the occasional picture or short post while I’m there, particularly if I can get good pictures of some the Imagineering Pyramid principles in practice.

New Items in My Imagineering Library

I recently added a couple of new items to My Imagineering Library that I’m pretty excited about.

The first is a copy of Design: Just for Fun by former Imagineer Bob Gurr.


This book was originally published in 2012 in a limited edition (only 2,000 copies of the book were printed). I should have bought a copy then, but held off, thinking it wouldn’t sell out that fast. Wrong! In a very short time the publisher sold out and the only available copies were more than 3x the cover price (it was originally $60, but I couldn’t find a copy for less than $200). Over the years I’d look for copies on Amazon or eBay, but the price from third-party sellers on Amazon kept getting higher and higher (as I write this, prices range from a low $900 to a high of $4,500) and I could never find a copy on eBay.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to check eBay again, and found a signed copy for sale. It wasn’t exactly cheap, but given the third-party prices on Amazon, I realized I might not ever find another copy at a “reasonable” price again and so decided to grab it. This book had been on my wish list for years (literally), and is one of only a handful of books about Imagineering written by former Imagineers that I didn’t have in my library.

The book arrived sealed in plastic and with a certificate of authenticity regarding Bob Gurr’s signature. I haven’t had the time to open it and read it, but I hope to get to it soon.

The second new addition to my Imagineering Library is the Summer 2013 issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, featuring a tribute to Walt Disney Imagineering in commemoration of WDI’s 60th anniversary.


I had been buying the magazine at Barnes & Noble but when I went to the store to find this issue, it wasn’t there. It turned out that this was the first issue released after D23 (The Official Disney Fan Club) stopped making the magazine available in stores and made it exclusive to D23 Gold Members. Prior to this time D23 sold back issues, so I tried that route, only to discover that they stopped that as well.

I’ve been searching for a copy of this issue since then, checking eBay every few months to see if anyone was selling.I got lucky a couple of weeks ago, when I happened to look for it again on eBay (the same day I found the copy of Design: Just For Fun) and found a copy for sale. A few clicks later and it was on its way! Only a few more issues and I’ll have a complete collection!


Podcast Interviews, Part 3

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently did a few podcast interviews about The Imagineering Pyramid.The last of these went live today.


My interview with Howie DiBlasi and Ryan Boeckman on the My Disney Class podcast is available here (it’s also available on iTunes and Stitcher). I think the interview went pretty well.

I hope you check it out. If you do, please let me know what you think.


Review of The Imagineering Pyramid on Theme Parkology

Jerry Cornell has posted a great review of The Imagineering Pyramid on his Theme Parkology website. I’ve also talked to Jerry about possibly being a guest on Magical Day Radio. If that happens, I’ll be sure to post about it here.


Have you read The Imagineering Pyramid? If so, I’d love to hear what you think! I’d also love it if you would consider posting a review on Amazon or Goodreads.