Receiving an invitation to take a VIP tour behind the scenes at the Disney Imagineering Studios was an absolute honour.
The opportunity to walk down such hallowed halls was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.
I step off the coach to walk down the red carpet and feel like I’ve walked straight into a Hollywood movie, complete with a band playing Disney classics and Mickey Mouse wearing his trademark red and black tuxedo to greet the excited guests.
Cocktails and delectable canapes were served in the landscaped grounds of the unassuming studios with the opportunity to take photos with the vehicular stars from “Cars” and, of course, the host with the most, Mickey Mouse.
No queues had to be dealt with to have some quiet time with the most famous mouse in the world and I enjoyed a few cuddles prior to being led into the studios that even some of the top Disney executives had never experienced before.
Photos and video cameras were not permitted of course but I took mental snapshots of my time wondering through the studios with a real life Disney Imagineer.
Imagineers are essentially responsible for bringing imagination to life. From cruise ship concepts to new rides, it is the Imagineers who make dreams a reality.
Our guide was Dave Fisher, a man who started working at Disneyland over 30 years ago as a ‘Custodial Host’ (sweeper) and worked his way up to become one of the top Imagineers for the company.
He is living proof that your dreams really can come true if you put the hard yards in.
Dave took us into the audio studio where we were able to experience a new style of technology that uses audio to invoke all of your senses.
Placing headphones over our ears and sitting in the dark, we were transported to a scene where we were the main character and, through sound alone, we felt as if we truly were there, recording the scene with a group of actors.
Venturing down the hallway, we paid a visit to Lucky the dinosaur; the first fully animated stand-alone character for Disney who called Disneyland home for many years before retiring in the Imagineering Studios.
Lucky was so full of character and took some time out of his busy schedule to pose with us individually and even nuzzle into the necks of some fans like me.
His velvety exterior and big fluttering eyelids just melted us all and reminded me that there is definitely a child within each one of us.
With ‘Cars Land’ opening at Disneyland in June, we were given a sneak peek at one of the main attractions virtual reality-style.
This technology allows Imagineers to literally walk through the park and view the lands and rides as they will appear on completion.
It is at this stage that they can work out additional theming where needed, whether a better view is required from a ride and even how quickly the queues will be processed at attractions.
Sitting on a lounge chair, we face a big screen in a relatively small room, and get taken on a journey through the new “Cars” ride.
Believe it or not, you do actually feel as if you’re on the ride itself regardless of the fact that you aren’t moving!
From virtual reality to stepping back in time, we enter the model room.
Filled with busts of former presidents, Walt Disney himself and even Johnny Depp, this room truly showcases the talent of the Disney artists.
So lifelike that one would be scared to be alone in the room at night for fear they might come to life, (it is Disney after all, anything can happen), they form the basis of the fully animated models utilised in the theme parks today.
Having been convinced that some of the Johnny Depp characters featured in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride at Disneyland were actually actors and not animated models, it is in this room that the process is explained.
The talent of the Disney model makers is beyond amazing.
We exit the studios to enjoy a delectable dessert buffet and peruse the store before boarding the bus and exiting what I would like to refer to as the birthplace of modern-day imagination.
A big call but one that I am quite willing to make after being given such a special insight into the technology created within those walls by people who refuse to limit their imagination.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A.