Behind the magic of every Disney theme park lay mud, sweat, and fears. Creating happiness is hard work. For nearly seventy years, a unique blend of artists and engineers have cultivated an impossible notion from the mind of one man, Walt Disney, into a global phenomenon that touches the hearts of millions. These designers are called – Imagineers.
Given unprecedented access, Academy-Award nominated filmmaker, Leslie Iwerks, leads the viewer on a journey behind the curtains of Walt Disney Imagineering, the little-known design and development center of The Walt Disney Company, to discover what it takes to create, design and build twelve Disney theme parks around the world.
The story of Walt Disney has been told. The story of animation has been told. But the story of Imagineering lies deep within the essence of Disney, starting with its founder, Walt himself. This six-hour series chronicles its history – an organization best described as equal parts artist studio, design center, think tank and innovation laboratory. This is where an eclectic group of creative people bring ideas to life. They’re responsible for making make-believe believable inside the Happiest Places on Earth.
People are connected to the Imagineers through their work, and yet, they remain a mystery. Three narrative threads intertwine through the decades -the spirit of the designers, the skill of the craft, and the drama of the theme park business. The viewer goes behind the scenes to witness the creation of Disneyland and every subsequent theme park, from Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the parks in Tokyo, Paris, and Shanghai. The viewer sees the trials and tribulations as well as the joys and successes, behind the making of classic attractions – from Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion to new favorites like Cars Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
From the words of the designers themselves and through never-before-seen archival footage, the viewer discovers who made these places and why. Guests sense that these places and these attractions grow from the heart of someone. This isn’t a corporate product put out there. Imagineers pour their hearts out there for guests to walk through and experience. These projects do change the world. They are places of acceptance, reassurance, and optimism during troubling times. Conceptually, Imagineering appears a similar place as it did under Walt. Very few companies have that creative DNA of continuity. The process has changed, the people have changed, but the fundamentals of who they are remains.
Today’s Imagineers stand on the shoulders of those who came before. The keys to their future success lie in the culmination of nearly seventy years of lessons learned – tribal knowledge passed down through the generations. Once a spark of inspiration in Walt Disney’s mind, now the sun never sets on a Disney Park somewhere in the world.
The Imagineering Story, an original series will stream November 12 only on Disney+.