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:

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!