WDI

Disney Honors Randy Pausch With Memorial Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University

The Walt Disney Company has announced the creation of the Disney Memorial Pausch Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University in recognition of the passion and energy Dr. Randy Pausch brought to his work at both Carnegie Mellon and Walt Disney Imagineering. Pausch is best known for his life-affirming “Last Lecture,” which he delivered to his students and colleagues a few weeks after learning he had just months to live. Intended as a roadmap for his three young children, the lecture included his insights on finding the good in other people, working hard to overcome obstacles and living generously.

“Randy Pausch lived his life inspiring his students, colleagues and co-workers. Now, the vitality and energy he brought to his classroom lives on and serves as an inspiration to millions of people he never had the chance to meet,” said Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. “We are proud to honor Randy’s passion by supporting the innovators and dreamers of tomorrow with these fellowships.”

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Disney’s next generation theme park entertainment, already here?

The BBC has a great story examining how two of the most recent attractions to open at Walt Disney World point the way toward future development from Walt Disney Imagineering. Disney sees current and future generations of youth who are already so inter-mediated with video games, texting, MP3s, video downloads, and 3-D movies (sometimes all at the same time) that they’re afraid standard attractions just won’t be enough to inspire repeat visits down the line.

“The emerging generation expects more immersive, personal and interactive experiences in every facet of their lives,” says Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering.

The two attractions the article looks at are Toy Story Midway Mania and Kim Possible. TSMM takes the ‘video game’ experience and brings it into the parks in a very Disney way. While Kim Possible is one of the first examples of how Disney can build an attraction using overlay technology. No need to expand the footprint of the park, just intertwine the experience with what is already there.

Sure, WDI can continue to pump out the heart pumping thrill rides like Expedition Everest or new entertainment environments like The American Idol Experience, but really, so can anyone these days (usually with the help of laid off Imagineers). What will set Disney themed environments apart in the future are overlays (or an even more exciting technology called Total Immersion, but that’s coming well down the line).

Just about exactly 8 years ago, I wrote a short story for LaughingPlace.com (unfortunately, the second page of it appears to have gone missing, so I rescued it from the Internet Archive Wayback machine (woo hoo) and have included it in full below the cut) forecasting where this overlay technology might be heading in the future. If it seems familiar, that probably means you’ve used a Pal Mickey before. It also gives you an idea of how long these ideas percolate in Imagineering before making it into the parks. Additionally, I’m almost finished with a novel by Vernor Vinge called “Rainbows End” which takes this overlay concept to the umpteenth level and extends it worldwide via a combination of future social networking and an economy based on themed design and role play.

I think it’s important to remember that it all comes back to quality story telling with the type of rich detail that Disney knows how to intertwine with entertainment. If Disney keeps their eye on that, the technology is just another color on their canvas.

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ImagiNations: Imagineerings Internship Contest

ImagiNations is Walt Disney Imagineering’s annual contest to find a diverse cast of qualified interns to work alongside Disney’s Imagineers. If you think you could qualify, you must get your application to WDI by January 30th. You’ll then have all of February to submit your… Read More »ImagiNations: Imagineerings Internship Contest

Disneyland Sculpted Puzzle Map by Terri Hardin

Disneyland Mural Originally uploaded to flickr by ChrisDotson A link to this photo floated across my twitter stream just a few minutes ago. I wondered @ChrisDotson was talking about the very rare 25 piece limited edition Terri Hardin Sculpted Disneyland Puzzle Map. Indeed that’s exactly… Read More »Disneyland Sculpted Puzzle Map by Terri Hardin

Breaking: Shanghai Disneyland to be built

Update: Disney officials continue to deny an agreement has been reached. But with all this positive press, you have to wonder if something is up. Wow. After Shanghai’s government approved the project last month, Disney officials were still denying that they were even involved in… Read More »Breaking: Shanghai Disneyland to be built

All about the Queue

IAAPA is having is European Attractions Show this week and their “In the Queue” blog covers a session led by Walt Disney Imagineer David Wilson. Wilson talked about some of the secrets Disney uses at its theme parks to manage guest flow into and out… Read More »All about the Queue