Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Imagineering the Magic

Disneyland recently began selling a park-exclusive, two-disc DVD set called Disneyland Resort: Imagineering the Magic. This set has about 90 minutes worth of interviews with imagineers where they explore the history of the Disneyland Resort and specific lands and attractions.

The first disc contains the main feature, "Imagineering the Magic of Disneyland." This 60-minute piece is a collection of interviews with imagineers such as Marty Sklar, Tony Baxter, and Tom Fitzgerald. They discuss the how Disneyland and imagineering came to be. The whole feature is strewn with old and new photos, videos, and concept art. For a few brief moments it feels a bit like a Travel Channel special, but for the most part the imagineers stick to stories about how Walt came up with different ideas and how the imagineers have transformed those ideas through the years.

The feature is split up as a general history of the park, and then deeper dives into the individual lands and some of the more popular attractions. Interspersed throughout the feature are various videos of Walt, often featuring famous quotes, used as segways between the various topics. There are also several clips from various television appearances by Walt as he discusses the Tiki Room, It's a Small World, and other attractions.

There were some nice gems in here -- video of the Country Bear walk-around characters dancing and the Tower of the Four Winds; an old Disney home video; and telling how they put an actual teacup from the ride onto the track in one of the dark rides in order to get a feel for how the spinning cabs might work in the Roger Rabbit ride.

The second disc contains several shorter segments. First is a featurette about California Adventure. This is more of an informational piece that explains the theme of the park. There really aren't any imagineering insights. Oddly, they present MuppetVision and Tower of Terror as if they were originally designed for the California park.

Next up is "What is Imagineering." My favorite part of this segment is a quote from Marty Sklar. He says that a blank sheet of paper is "the most frightening thing in the world because you have to make the first mark on it" but it is also "the greatest opportunity in the world because you get to make the first mark on it."

The DVD also contains a trivia section with about 10 or 15 questions to test how well you paid attention to the first few features. You are presented with various multiple choice questions that were directly answered in the dialogue earlier on the discs.

The final two featurettes are "Imagineering New Attractions" -- which looks at transforming Tom Sawyer Island's Fort Wilderness into the pirates lair and creating the Nemo submarine voyage -- and "Imagineers on Imagineering" which contains rapid-fire soundbytes of the imagineers talking about their jobs.

Overall, this was an interesting collection. There was not any information on the disc that isn't already available in literature or on fan sites. But this does serve as a great introduction to the history of Disneyland and many of the attractions. Any fan of theme park history would do well to pick up a copy.


Basil said...

Great post Craig...and great blog overall. You've only been at it a few days now, and I'm very impressed with the amount of Disney info. It's great stuff, keep it comming!!

Rae! said...

This is really great! Keep it up. I am adding it to my list and I will let everyone know!!!