Imagineer Designed Restaurant at LAX Closes

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There was a time in the Disney Co’s history when the team at Walt Disney Imagineering was envisioned as something more than a designer for theme parks and resorts, but also as a group that was set on designing the future of technology and culture for society in general. They still do that, but just not as a stated policy.

One of the products of that era was Encounter, a retro-future themed bar and restaurant inside the iconic LAX Theme Building. With the 1997 Imagineering upgrade, the Jetson-y building exterior got a matching interior. It was, I think, a bold move for Disney to essentially farm its Imagineering talents out to a non-Disney environment. At the time, I thought I would rather have had that restaurant inside EPCOT where the Disney brand would shine a little brighter on what is a very cool location. But I also appreciated the experiment and was sad to see that Disney pulled back the reins on other external projects.

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Sadly, the LA Times reports that the restaurant closed in December of last year; victim to the change in traveler habits that resulted from long security lines that any passenger would have to brave to return to their gate after dining and a general improvement in the quality of food offered inside the concourse itself. Whether another restaurant can take over that space and succeed remains to be seen, so far nothing has been announced.

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Did you ever dine at Encounter? What do you think about the idea of WDI designing hotels, restaurants, and retail for non-Disney customers?

(Photos of Encounter courtesy Sam Howzit on Flickr CC-License.)

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2 Responses to Imagineer Designed Restaurant at LAX Closes

  1. Errol says:

    Many years ago my curiosity got me enough gumption to try out the restaurant at the top of the LAX theme building. For pedestrians it is a bit of a walk, crossing a busy road to get to the center area, then along an urban/unlandscaped concrete walkway.

    It was Encounter, though I did not know that WDI had a hand in the design.
    I felt the place was a bit future-beatnik. The menu listed items like “Carrot-Pea Soup 8″. (The simple “8” was the price) Over-priced it was, and from that one visit I decided I would not be going back. The food (not of Disney) was OK.

  2. GregR says:

    I went to a birthday dinner there in 2006. I did like the decor and style of the restaurant. That was the best thing about the place. There was nobody else in the restaurant, but our party. My dinner was good the second time. I hope they don’t screw with the interior.

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