Walt Disney Imagineering ‘Living Worlds’ Project Seeking Designers to Engage in Transmedia Storytelling
Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development will soon launch phase one of its new ‘Living Worlds’ program in which it seeks to engage ‘innovative storytellers willing to push the limits to create fully immersive worlds where guests can explore, play and discover deep narratives.’
Beginning October 22, WDI R&D will begin accepting high level proposals for potential transmedia stories supported under the program. Proposals received by December 1, 2012, will be considered for round two in which chosen proposals will be engaged to further develop their concepts and submit a more detailed and developed proposal. From this second round of proposals, Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development hopes to select one or more teams to collaborate with to create and build the proposed experiences.
To be considered eligible for the project, the experience must have a narrative arc that tells a complete story and be original in nature and may not use any existing intellectual property. It can take place anywhere must take place in a physical environment as well as on another media such as an interactive website, mobile device, another physical location or any other media format/platform. The experience also must run for at least two weeks, be able to support at least 50 people per day and be family friendly. The program is open to anyone of at least 18 years of age.
For more information on the Living Worlds project as well as to apply, visit the official web site.
Ever since its refurbishment was announced back in May, speculations have run rampant about changes being made to ‘Country Bear Jamboree,’ located in Frontierland of the Magic Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World. Initial rumors had the show being cut in length and have since grown to include cutting out peripheral characters out completely to the return of the holiday overlay and more. The only certain element regarding the rumors was that for every rumor proposed, there was at least another that contradicted it and proposed something else.
While it’s not 100% confirmation, paperwork filed today at the Orange County Comptroller’s office by Walt Disney Imagineering show intentions of modifying both the lighting and the show control, which is a strong indication that there will in fact be modifications to the show, although how exactly will remain to be seen when the attraction re-opens on October 17, 2012.
Prior to these filings, the only related paperwork has been in regards to general refurbishment and construction as well as electrical work supplied by Ermco of Florida.
Earlier today, the official Disney Parks blog held a webchat with Walt Disney Imagineer Melissa Jeselnick, who is one of the lead Imagineers in transitioning Epcot’s Test Track to the Test Track 2.0 phase.
Essentially, the story of the attraction is switching from testing to design, according to Jeselnick. The interior queue is being completely changed to align itself with the new focus. ‘We’ll have actual items, sketches, cars, models from GM that have never been seen before by anyone outside the Chevrolet family,’ she added.
The queue will consist of the Test Track Design Studios. It’s there that guests will design their own custom concept vehicle which ‘follows’ them into the vehicle, now known as a sim car. Although the vehicles are all physically the same, the custom design configuration itself will be scored in categories such as Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness and Speed. Possible customizations for the vehicle design include body shape, color and tire selection.
For the concept art seen here, Jeselnick explains that the attraction will consist of several scenes. By the time the guest reaches the point shown here, they have already experienced at’s just before our final virtual scene. By that point of the ride, you’ve experienced the Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness and Power virtual scenes and are being set up for Speed.
In the Capability scene, the guest’s vehicle is tested for rough road and weather conditions; the Efficiency scene tests the car design’s environmental footprint; the Responsiveness scene phase tests maneuverability; and Speed is tested.
Jeselnick also noted that the custom designed vehicle continues to follow the guests even through the post-show area (where Chevrolet will display cars currently available in the pavilion showroom as well as offer concept car photo opportunities). There will be some element allowing guests to compare their custom vehicle design scores with other guests throughout the day. Jeselnick also offered the possibility of guests being able to interact with their designs beyond the attraction, though she stopped short of mentioning what they may be. It would not be unprecedented for there to be some online component, for example, or possibly even a special PhotoPass opportunity where guests can virtually join their creation.
While the attraction will enjoy a new sponsor (Chevrolet as opposed to General Motors), a new queue and ride experience, a brand new soundtrack, a new marquee (shown above) and more, some elements will remain the same. The track itself is not being altered and the attraction will continue to offer both FASTPASS and Single Rider options. While the standby queue will offer full customization opportunities, the FASTPASS and Single Rider queues will allow guests to choose from a selection of pre-configured vehicles.
What you see here is one of Walt Disney Imagineering’s newest inventions being tested earlier this year at Minter Field Airport in Shafter, California — a flying dragon puppet that even — get this — breathes fire.
The flying fantasy object was recently spotted as reported by the Bakersfield Californian, but this picture here, amongst others, has actually been online since May. It comes via the Facebook page of Tammy Jackson-Zaninovich who reports the sighting as ‘just another day’ at the airport.
According to the report, the dragon has been making monthly appearances at the airport where Disney has been renting a hangar, golf cart and other paraphernalia and plans to ship the dragon (not fly it) to Orlando later this summer.
While all signs point to possible research for Avatarland at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, one commenter on the original photo in May says it’s not Avatar related, though she wasn’t sure what the intent was. To her credit, she was also able to note the flying puppet would be able to breathe fire as well that it would return to the airport for further testing in June/July.
Arguably one of the most anticipated titles this year amongst Disney theme park enthusiasts, Poster Art of the Disney Parks by Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt takes a look at more than five decades of attraction posters and concept art from Disney parks around the globe. Featuring a foreword by the Senior Vice President, Creative Development of Walt Disney Imagineering, Tony Baxter, the 144 page, oversized compendium of attraction posters was written by Danny Handke, who serves as an Associate Show Producer for the Tokyo and Hong Kong Parks as well as Disney Cruise Line where he’s worked on projects such as Tokyo’s Goofy’s Paint ‘n’ Play House and the AquaLab aboard the Disney Fantasy. Also contributing to the book is Imagineer Vanessa Hunt who serves at the Art Library at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Below, we are pleased to bring you some sample pages from the book, which will be released on September 4, 2012. It will retail for $40 at bookstores everywhere, but is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com at a significant discount.
Images copyright © Disney Enterprises, courtesy of Disney Book Group
‘You must get great reception with those,’ said Mickey Mouse to a Mouse Ears-sporting attendee at the 2011 D23 Expo which took place last weekend. Gradually he stepped further away from the guest, asking the inevitable ‘can you hear me now?’ question over and over.
This is just one of the many interactions that took place at the D23 Expo in which guests got their first public, announced opportunity to speak with Mickey Mouse for the first time since Disneyland introduced the meet and greet character, decades ago.
There were actually two variations of the Talking Mickey presented to the audience, the first being a ‘live’ version which could freely converse with guests. Available on Saturday, he was replaced by what what’s affectionately referred to as the ‘Soundboard Mickey’ on Sunday, which is when we were able to catch up with him. This version of Mickey operates with a limited set of phrases with which to respond to guests’ inquiries as well as move the meet and greet along by suggesting that they all take group photos. We stress the word photos because the obvious appeal to Talking Mickey in the day when most everyone has a camera or phone that records video, the video is certainly a more desirable alternative and, in fact, Imagineering seems to be pushing the idea of both video and photos when meeting Mickey.
Although video footage of moments of awkwardness have made their way onto YouTube before, this is the biggest workout Mickey has gotten to date and after observing just thirty minutes of it, we walked away with about ten minutes we’d like to share.
What we witnessed, which was undoubtedly a huge milestone and technical achievement for Walt Disney Imagineering, was bittersweet. The largest disappointment, ironically enough, was simply that the number of children coming to see Mickey was minimal simply because he effectively did not exist outside Imagineering’s ‘Carousel of Projects’ pavilion and thus children were dominated by adult guests who would line up for nearly an hour before his scheduled appearances.
That said, we were relieved to see that adult interaction could be just as magical (although the desire to put one’s hand in Mickey’s mouth seemed far more limited). Another positive was the array of phrases Mickey has all to accomplish the same task, as you can see by the video, when he goes to sign autographs, even jokingly reciting his grocery list at one point and offering to sign the royal decree of a child dressed as a princess.
Awkwardness was still present, however, as Mickey ‘Gee, I Don’t Know’ Mouse seems to be unable to simply say yes or no (although he certainly has his share of positive phrases). One interaction, not caught on video, had Mickey Mouse asking the adult guest what he did today. When the guest responded by saying he had been shopping, he asked Mickey if he had done any shopping as well. After a bit of a pause with silence, the guest rephrased the question, to which Mickey simply gave his ‘I don’t know’ response.
It’s clear the technology has promise, but there still seems to be a bit of a way to go before Mickey Mouse (and Pete, reportedly) start interacting with guests full time in the parks. This was further evidenced by Walt Disney Imagineering filming the entire interaction, hopefully looking for ways to improve the efficiency and coherence of Mickey’s half of the conversation. In any case, it’s very clear by the video, that most attendees of any age certainly didn’t seem to mind.
One just can’t help wonder what runs through a child’s head when Mickey doesn’t talk to them the next time they’re in the parks, however.
Disney Parks has released this video from Walt Disney Imagineering which takes a look at how Imagineers are employing current and newly-developed technology to help realize the fruition of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
In essence, it’s a slightly more dumbed down version of what was presented last year at the NASA Summit by WDI Florida Vice-President and General Manager Jack Blitch, giving an overview of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) and pre-visualization (pre-viz) processes and how it even averted a real-world problem at the construction at the attraction for The Little Mermaid which could have cost the company considerably more money had it not been spotted beforehand.
What is new in terms of information, however, is the use of tablet PCs while on-site with which Imagineers can interact with each other during the construction phase, offering visual and audio feedback including participating in WebEx meetings.
Phase I of New Fantasyland is expected to open fall 2012.
Earlier this month, we shared the plans Disney Parks and Resorts has for its presentations at the 2011 D23 Expo taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center on August 19 – 21. D23 has now released the full schedule for the Disney Parks panels, which are in addition to the keynote arena presentation by Parks Chair Tom Staggs on Friday, August 19 at 3:30 pm. The individual panels and schedule are as follows:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19
- The Making of The Little Mermaid — Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (1:00 pm – 2:00 pm, Stage 23) – Imagineers Lisa Girolami, Larry Nikolai, and Chris Crump take you behind the scenes.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 20
- A Good Look at Buena Vista Street (2:45 pm – 3:45 pm, Stage 28) – Sneak a peek at the new entrance to Disney California Adventure with Imagineers.
- Legends of Walt Disney Imagineering (4:30 pm – 5:30 pm, Stage 28) – Disney Legend Marty Sklar will lead a celebration of Imagineering careers and accomplishments.
- Imagineering’s Guide to Creativity and Innovation (6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Stage 28) – A panel of Imagineers discuss how they use storytelling and technology to make Disney magic.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 21
- Imagineering the Dream and the Fantasy (9:15 am – 10:00 am, Stage 23) – Imagineers Joe Lanzisero and Bob Zalk talk about the design of Disney’s latest cruise ships.
- Radiator Springs Reality (1:30 pm – 2:30 pm, Stage 23) – Pixar’s John Lasseter and Roger Gould join Imagineers for a sneak peek look at Cars Land.
- The Making of Star Tours — The Adventures Continue (3:30 pm – 4:30 pm, Stage 23) – Find out how Imagineers updated the attraction, hosted by Imagineering’s Tom Fitzgerald.
In addition to the Disney Channel schedule announced earlier today, the updated schedule on the D23 Expo site also includes additional panels such as Drawing on Disney Magic (Saturday, 10:00 am – 11:00 am, Stage 23)- Join videogame producers in a special panel discussion about what’s next for THQ’s uDraw and MORE of The Wonderful World of Vintage Disneyland and Walt Disney World (Sunday, 5:15 pm – 6:15 pm, Stage 23) – Film preservationist Ed Hobelman and Imagineer Tony Baxter look back at vintage footage.
Fans attending Disney’s D23 Expo August 19-21 at the Anaheim Convention Center will have the chance to experience “a great big beautiful tomorrow” as they immerse themselves in the future of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, which is currently in the biggest period of global expansion in its history.
Drawing inspiration from a classic attraction that debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and has made stops at Disneyland in California and Magic Kingdom in Florida, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts invites attendees to hop aboard the “Carousel of Projects” for a sneak peek at concepts, designs, models, storytelling tools, and technologies currently being developed at Walt Disney Imagineering for Disney parks around the world.
Throughout the weekend, exclusively at the D23 Expo, fans will get a look at the latest details for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ 11 parks and five resorts around the world, as well as Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Disney Vacation Club, including:
- Actual figures, props and ride vehicles for Radiators Springs Racers, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the building of Cars Land, the newest land at Disney California Adventure which opens next year.
- The opportunity to meet a classic Disney icon in an entirely new way.
- Concepts, models and plans for Fantasyland, one of the most ambitious expansions in the 40-year history of Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
- What’s new at Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Disney Vacation Club.
In addition to the pavilion, D23 Expo attendees will also have the chance to attend numerous presentations and panel discussions. On Friday, August 19, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs will give guests in the 4,000-seat main arena an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at some of the biggest projects currently underway at Disney parks, featuring a few surprises along the way.
- Imagineers and cast members who create and operate Disney’s parks, resorts, cruise ships, and other vacation experiences will take fans behind-the-magic with nine exciting presentations including:
- Radiator Springs Reality: Imagineering Cars Land for Disney California Adventure – Join Disney•Pixar’s John Lasseter and a panel of Imagineers and Pixar creative talent as they share the twists and turns through the real-life development of Radiator Springs.
- The Making of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald will share the inside scoop on how Walt Disney Imagineering and George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic began laying the groundwork for a new version of Star Tours.
- A Good Look at Buena Vista Street – Imagineers Lisa Girolami, Ray Spencer, and Coulter Winn provide a preview of the new entrance to Disney California Adventure, an idealized depiction of the Los Angeles Walt Disney lived and worked in throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
- Imagineering the Dream and the Fantasy – Imagineers Joe Lanzisero and Bob Zalk talk about charting the design course of the two newest Disney cruise ships.
- Legends of Walt Disney Imagineering – Disney Legend Marty Sklar will lead a celebration of the careers and accomplishments of Walt Disney Imagineering, including Alice Davis, Orlando Ferrante, Bob Gurr, and Don Iwerks. With special guest and current Imagineer Kim Irvine, daughter of Disney Legend Leota Toombs.
In addition, and for the first time, the Parks and Resorts pavilion will also feature Mickey’s of Glendale, an outlet of Walt Disney Imagineering’s employee-only store, where—for just three days– guests can shop for “Carousel of Projects” souvenirs and collectibles and Walt Disney Imagineering merchandise not available anywhere else.
Tickets to the D23 Expo are available at http://www.D23Expo.com. Admission includes access to all experiences and entertainment at the D23 Expo, including the Disney Legends Ceremony, and can be purchased for single days or for the full three days of festivities. Admission is $47 for a one-day adult ticket and $37 for children 3-12. Three-day passes are $136 for adults and $106 for children. Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club will receive a discount for up to four admissions, as well as early entry to each day of the D23 Expo for themselves and their guests.
Walt Disney Imagineering has released this new video which goes behind the scenes at the most recent additions to Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion attraction: the hitchhiking ghosts.
The video goes into quite a bit of detail and goes behind-the-scenes at the changes which include new audio animatronic figures and the attraction finale which now offers digitally projected animations featuring the beloved Gus, Ezra and Phineas which dynamically detects and interacts with the guest.
Stitch Kingdom first identified and reported on the patent behind this technology over a year ago and on March 12 of this year, nearly one month prior to the unveiling of the new additions, correctly identified that the tech was being applied to the Haunted Mansion.
Sometimes it’s just plain spooky how we know these things months in advance, isn’t it?
Other recent changes to the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World include an extended, fully-interactive queue which now prominently features the fabled actual wedding ring which has joined the Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion lore over the years due to cast members and fans alike.