Imagineer Joe Rohde offers masterclass on storytelling in three Instagram posts

Joe Rohde walks with James Cameron and Tom Staggs (among others)
Joe Rohde walks with James Cameron and Tom Staggs (among others)

Not only has Joe Rohde, imagineer and champion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, posted a terrific photo of a very hard to get image from Expedition Everest roller coaster, he’s provided something of a master-class on creating a back story for an attraction with just three Instagram posts.

Check out the tale explaining the story of the Forbidden Mountain below:

Here we see the largest extant mural in the ruins of Serka Zong in the Himalayan foothills of Anandapur. Entrepreneurs have recently rerouted the old tea train train directly through this mud walled structure, which once served as a literal and metaphorical gateway to the forbidden mountains. These mountains are considered by locals to contain a beyul, a shambala, or sacred realm. Such places are often biologically rich areas having been protected from interference for millennia. The yeti, depicted here in the classic pose of a defender or guardian deity, holds the forbidden mountain in his hand while the other hand is held up in a “keep out” gesture. Soot stains from oil lamps obscure the lower details which appear to represent the local kingdom. Two skeletal attendants flank the yeti, as they would any important fierce guardian in a thangka or sacred Tubetan banner. The whole ensemble, with the scattered remnant Bon murals to each side is one of the most impressive remains of Serka Zongs connection to the ancient Zhangzhung Kingdom. Bon ceremonies still take place in the ruins, despite the disruptions caused by the intrusion of the refurbished train. #disney #arthistory #animalkingdom #disneysanimalkingdom #atdisneysanimalkingdom #himalayas #tibetan #mural #yeti #thangka #art #wdw #waltdisneyworld #disneyvacations #disneydifference #architecture #dzong #serkazong #anandapur

A photo posted by Joe Rohde (@joerohde) on

You can also see Rohde’s take on Chester and Hester’s dino-rama road-side attraction inspired land on an earlier Instrgram post below

Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures. Animal Kingdom. Sometimes good taste can get in the way of good fun. As a boy, I used to love road trips. Once we moved to California from Hawaii, we would regularly take off on drives across the west, sometime totally spontaneously. We’d be headed from Van Nuys to Big Bear and my dad would announce, “Let’s go visit my sister in Ely, Nevada!” And off we’d go. (Check a map for how crazy this is.) He abhorred chains, so we would eat, sleep, and shop with whatever meager funds we had “where the locals go.” Old roadside America was so wierd it was beyond a question of tastefulness or kitsch. It was actual, independent personality, expressed without a fleck of concern for what someone else might think. That’s what this is. C and H is for kids, who haven’t yet learned what’s tasteful, elegant, cool, or trendy. Joyous excess. Not for everyone, but I sort of grin every time I see it and remember my days poking through trays of arrowheads and fossil shark teeth, and posing with plaster dinos. #disney #design #dak #artdirectors #archivedisney #animalkingdom #atanimalkingdom #architecture #roadsideamarica #route66 #folkart #outsiderarchitecture #roadtrip #wdw #highway #fossil #dino #dinosaur A photo posted by Joe Rohde (@joerohde) on

I’m still not sure I buy into the legitimacy of Chester and Hester’s but I love how Rohde makes a personal connection with it and how he uses it to display how the Imagineer’s art is on display, even in an “Asphalt wasteland.”

Only the dove is real. This is not asphalt. No car ever drove here, wearing off the painted lines. No cracks were formed by the expansion and contraction of the surface. It’s one thing to create a convincing wall of a crumbling Indian fortress, in a place where almost no one has ever seen real crumbling Indian fortress. But to create a convincing abandoned parking lot for people who see parking lots every day? That’s actually really hard. This surface is so convincing that it is ignored completely. But there is no way this surface could stand up to the traffic it receives on a hot summer day if it were actually asphalt. It is sculpture. #art #artists #architecture #artdirectors #artofdisney #themeparks #wdw #atanimalkingdom #dinorama #animalkingdom #dinoland #disney #design #summer #dak #vacation #highway #holiday

A photo posted by Joe Rohde (@joerohde) on

And that’s how to tell a story in themed design. Joe’s whole Instagram account is worth following. You’ll learn a lot about art, travel, and maybe yourself.

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