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are responsible for every aspect of the visitor experience at a Disney attraction. They master-plan every park and resort – conceptualizing the attractions, environments, and the special effects guests see – and then they execute, build and install the machines, architecture, software, and landscaping thatbring the story to life. Over the last five years, much of WDI’s focus has been on creating Disney’s newest theme park, Hong Kong Disneyland. The park, scheduled to open later this year, is the fifth Disneyland-styled theme park in the world, the eleventh Disney park built, and the first ever in the People’s Republic of China. And how the park came to be is a story of magic and science, mixed in avery precise and powerful potion.
BY CHERYL D. KRIVDA / PHOTOS BY DANNY TURNER
Walt Disney Imagineering’s team of wizards mixes its powerful potion of art and science to create a new theme park in China.
It’s a point of pride at entertainment giant Disney that
every “product” tells a story. From films to toys to theme parks, Disney strives to capture the imagination of its audience with amagical story that captivates and delights children of all ages. Yet behind the magnificent artistry is a highly disciplined army of people who work diligently and meticulously to execute the imagination, science and business of Disney’s storytelling. Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), with a corps of 1,400 writers, artists, sculptors, show designers, ride designers, programmers, engineers andarchitects, is the storytelling force behind Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Formed in 1952 to plan, design, and build Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., WDI is responsible for creating Disney resorts, theme parks and attractions around the world. The “Imagineers,” as WDI employees are called,
GOING INTERNATIONAL Since the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando,
BUILDING THE WORLD BEHIND THE FANTASY
most of them were Hong Kong SAR government already surrounded by high rise had plans for land reclamation – a buildings that would process of dredging marine silt from have compromised the the sea bed and depositing millions of Disney experience,” he cubic yards of marine sand to raise the land above sea level. Havingrecently says. But then, the planning completed the same process for the official directed the new airport, the government knew it helicopter over Lantau could be done. “Strategically, it was a Island, the largest of great location,” says Chao. “So we Walt Disney and the Hong the 236 islands that negotiated the deal in 1999.” Kong government transformed comprise Hong Kong. Penny’s Bay (left) intoa As they circled over UNDER THE SEA 457-acre parcel of land that Penny’s Bay near the The Hong Kong SAR government is home to the new Hong Kong new Hong Kong Inter- became Disney’s financial partner in Disneyland. When the theme national Airport, then the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, park opens later this year, still under development, taking responsibility for land reclama5,000 constructionworkers and 1,400 “Imagineers” the planning official tion and primary infrastructure supwill have worked on the project. pointed to a body of port. For the next two years, working water at the edge of around the clock, government conFla., in the early 1970s, expanding its a rural hilly spot. “Do you like this tractors dredged more than 40 million resorts to international locations has location?” heasked. cubic meters of mud from below been a goal of The Walt Disney “Where?” Chao countered. “I didn’t Penny’s Bay and deposited close to 70 Company. Tokyo Disneyland opened see any land, only water.” But, the million cubic yards of sand on the job in 1983, followed by Paris Disneyland in 1992. Then between 1993 and 1997, Disney executives focused their High-Tech Tools for Mitigating Risk search…