Lessons in Imagineering

There are a host of great books put out by current or former Disney Imagineers about the art and craft of Imagineering. But very few go into the level of analysis provided by Passport to Dreams Old & New blogger Foxxfur. Someone looking for a career in Theme park design could learn a lot from her posts.

In The Long Lonely March, the queue to Walt Disney World’s Pirates Of The Caribbean is deconstructed into its various components. Foxxfur points out that this is the first ‘immersion’ queue designed by WED, now WDI:

We must also remember that although we now throw the term "themed queue" around loosely to refer to anything like the experience of transversing the wait areas of Pirates of the Caribbean or Indiana Jones Adventure, that the idea of a themed queue has existed since 1955 – certainly Harper Goff’s original Jungle Cruise boathouse qualified as a themed queue, much moreso than those elsewhere in Disneyland. But the innovation of the Castillo del Morro show scene is that it totally dispensed with switchbacks, turning those ropes, poles and chains into solid stone walls. This is the legacy of the design team in this attraction as this is generally our criteria for calling any queue themed or not – do you walk down a big corridor? – and based on this, we must regard latter generation queues, like Indiana Jones, not a progression or refinement – but an aesthetic extrapolation. Castillo del Morro established all the rules.

Read the rest of the article for a scene by scene break down of the groundbreaking work.

In her most recent post Foxxfur re-examines an earlier argument she made about Liberty Square not having a ‘weenie’. A ‘weenie’ being a visual attractor designed to get guests to travel from one end of a land to another. A Disneyland, the riverboat works as the visual weenie for Frontierland, but at Liberty Square, the sternwheeler is deliberately hidden from view. Upon revisiting her comments, she has decided that was quite deliberate.

Imagine my embarrassment when I realized that you’re not supposed to see the Riverboat from Liberty Square proper – after all, the Hall of Presidents is dated 1787 and, per Magic Kingdom ‘dated building rules’, this is a pretty clear indication of the time period we’re supposed to be in. Riverboats weren’t really a big part of America until well into the 19th century, and so standing in front of an 18th or 17th century building and seeing a stern wheeler would be, if not intellectually, then emotionally false, regardless of its’ value as a crowd draw.

Another set of wonderful analysis.

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