Our SCAD team gave the final performance of our Imaginations project last week in Savannah for an audience of students, faculty and guests, and now that we have gotten that out of the way, I can feel comfortable posting the slides from our presentation. But before I do that I have to share one thing…
This summer I’m going to Disney World. ”Going to” as in “working for” and “Disney World” as in “Walt Disney Imagineering.”
For three months this summer I will be working with Creative Design Development at WDI in Florida as a paid intern. One benefit of being a finalist in the Imaginations Design Competition was having the chance to interview with different departments for possible internships. Many employees, especially those who come through something like Imaginations, begin as interns and work their way into full time positions. I was offered a position both in Glendale at Imagineering headquarters as well as a position in Orlando and opted for the latter. While the location will be much easier on my family (I live in Atlanta), the place and the atmosphere have a certain appeal beyond what Glendale can offer.
The thing I fell in love with when dreaming of working for Walt Disney Imagineering was the stories about the early days of Disneyland—small groups of people with limited resources needing to move quickly to get things designed and into the parks because there was no time to waste. Everyone had to fill roles they never would have imagined simply because there was no one else to do the work (there are many stories of Walt Disney saying, “You know, what we need in the park is….” Prompting some unsuspecting Imagineer to say, “Sounds great, Walt. Who’s gonna do it?” To which Walt would reply, “You are!”). Today at WDI headquarters in Glendale, things are a little different. Of course the people there are very talented and multi-faceted, but the company now employs many many specialists who are insanely good at what they do, as opposed to a small group expected to do everything. This is by necessity, as the projects Disney produces today are so massive in scope (not to mention in budget), that it’s simply not reasonable to go over to the person in costuming and say, “You know, what we need in the park is an entire land based on the movie Avatar, and you’re going to do it!” The Imagineering home office has gobs of cash, tons of time and an army of elite troops and it deploys them all without mercy.
In Florida things are a little different. Cash is limited. Time is limited. Numbers are limited. While that may sound like a terrible situation to some, especially considering the alternative, to me all of these limitations add up to one thing—the necessity for creativity and ingenuity to be unlimited. The Orlando location, similar to the on-site office in Anaheim, feels a little like a startup business when compared to Glendale. At a startup, you work harder for less (if any) money and have to fill more roles than you signed up for, but there is something oddly rewarding about that. I am someone who craves more work, more challenges, more ways to stretch myself and discover new talents that I didn’t know I had. In an environment where more is asked, everyone must become more than they imagined. The Florida office is that kind of environment, so that is where I want to be.
This summer I will be spending my time in a little office right behind the old Wonders of Life pavilion at Epcot, drawing my brains out and learning anything that anyone is willing to teach me. When my boss or some other senior Imagineer comes around the corner with something that we need in the parks and I say, “Sounds great. Who’s gonna do it?” I can only hope they will reply, “You are!”