Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Milt Kahl

Milton Erwin Kahl (born March 22, 1909, in San Francisco, California, USA; died April 19, 1987, in Mill Valley, California, USA, of pneumonia) was an animator for the Disney studio. Kahl is often considered the finest draughtsman of the Disney animators. For many years the final look for the characters in the Disney films were designed by Kahl, in his angular style inspired by Ronald Searle and Picasso. He is revered by contemporary masters of the form, such as Andreas Deja, and Brad Bird. In the book The Animator’s Survival Kit the author Richard Williams makes repeated reference and...
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Imagineering Bio: Ollie Johnson

Oliver Martin Johnston, Jr. (born on October 31, 1912 in Palo Alto, California) is a pioneer in the field of motion picture animation. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men, and the last living member. His work was recognized with the National Medal of Arts in 2005.He was a directing animator at Walt Disney Studios from 1935-1978. He contributed to many films including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Bambi and Pinocchio. His last full work for Disney came with The Rescuers, which was the last film of the second golden age of Disney animation that had...
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Insights from Experts

Mickey’s 10 Commandments – Marty Sklar

Every theme park designer should know what’s been done in the past.  Benchmarks and precedents are extremely important.   With that in mind, you should learn the ten guidelines to theme park design developed by Walt Disney Imagineering President Marty Sklar. Mickey’s 10 Commandments 1. Know your audience – Don’t bore people, talk down to them or lose them by assuming that they know what you know. 2. Wear your guest’s shoes – Insist that designers, staff and your board members experience your facility as visitors as often as possible. 3. Organize the flow of people and ideas – Use...
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4. Theme Park Master Planning – The Attraction Mix

The Attraction Mix – by Peter Alexander This is your big decision: what kind of attractions are you going to offer, and at what level of quality and professionalism? Part of this depends on your competition, and just how good you need to make the park to be the best in its area. For example, today, Universal Studios and particularly in Florida, is known for it’s high tech, story oriented rides. But, if the Disney company hadn’t beaten Universal to the punch and opened their MGM Studio Tour before Universal’s in Orlando, none of those rides would have ever...
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3. Theme Park Master Planning – Park Layout

by Peter Alexander Park Layout When people think of Master Planning, a lot of them think of how the park is arranged, which is what we call “park layout.” There are as many ways to lay out a park as there are designers who do it, but a few have been used more often than not, so we’ll touch on those first. The Disney approach, seen in the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, is what could be called the Icon Design Philosophy. The big Icon for Disney is the Castle at the end of Main Street, and that is also...
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2. Theme Park Master Planning – The Theme

The Theme A “Real Theme Park” needs a theme, which is a funny thing to say, but have you ever noticed that a lot of the places we call “theme parks” don’t have much of a theme at all? That’s because a lot of them are not really theme parks, they are just amusement or thrill ride parks with some pretty scenery stuck in between giant iron rides that look like Martian machines from The War of The Worlds. For this discussion, we are going to stick to “Real Theme Parks,” a term which describes Disney, Universal, many of...
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1. Theme Park Master Planning: So you want to build a theme park?

by Peter Alexander President; Totally Fun Company. So you want to build a theme park? What do you do? Where do you start? How about taking some cool rides, and putting them together with some good restaurants, fun stores and pretty landscaping? Well, you can do exactly that, and some people have, but if you want to make your theme park work you’d better do some master planning. The Numbers Game If you want to build a theme park, the safest place to start is by doing a feasibility study. This study will tell you what kind of market...
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Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Mary Blair

Mary Blair (October 21, 1911–July 26, 1978), born Mary Robinson, was an American artist best remembered today for work done for The Walt Disney Company. Blair produced striking conceptual art for such films as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Her style also lives on through the character designs for the Disney attraction “it’s a small world”, as well as an enormous mosaic inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Blair was honored as a Disney Legend in 1991. Born October 21, 1911 in McAlester, Oklahoma, Mary Browne Robinson moved to Texas while still a small child, and later to California when...
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General information

Ask an Imagineer!

Do you have a question about themed entertainment design?   Feel free to ask it here.  We’ll answer back as soon as we can. As well, if you are an experienced professional in themed entertainment design and would like to help answer questions, we’d love to consider you as a moderator....
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Imagineering Bio: Marty Sklar

Martin A. “Marty” Sklar is The Walt Disney Company’s international ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering, the subisdary of the company which designs and constructs the Disney theme parks and resorts across the world. Sklar was formerly vice president of concepts and planning for the company, before being promoted to president, and then eventually taking the position of vice chairman and principal creative executive of the company before his current role. Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Sklar was a student at UCLA and editor of its Daily Bruin newspaper in 1955 when he was recruited to create an 1890s-themed...
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Magic Markers for Theme Park Designers

One subject that themedattraction.com has not addressed yet is the question of design tools: That is, what tools are used by designers to create theme park attractions? Magic Markers There are three brands of markers that seem to work the best for rendering, and each have their advantages. Prismacolors are nice because they are a dry marker. The dry marker allows you to get more detailed with your color. The triple tips allow you to work in detail or on larger surfaces. There are scores of colors in a variety of different sets. They work well for most applications....
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Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Marc Fraser Davis

March 30 , 1913 – January 12 , 2000 ) was a prominent artist and animator for Walt Disney Studios. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men , the famed core animators of Disney animated films. Some of the animated characters Davis mainly designed and animated are Thumper from Bambi ( 1942 ), Brer Rabbit from Song of the South ( 1946 ), Cinderella ( 1950 ), Alice of Alice in Wonderland ( 1951 ), Tinker Bell in Peter Pan ( 1953 ), Maleficent and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty ( 1959 ) and Cruella De Vil of 101...
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Working on the Jungle Cruise in the 1970’s

Terry Speicher: Theme park designer with ITEC Productions and a former Walt Disney World Jungle Cruise Skipper from the opening days of Walt Disney World. Interviewer: Tell us about how you got started at Jungle, and how long you were there. TS: OK. It was a very cold winter in Indiana, around December, 1972. Eastern Airlines was advertising on the Larry Lujack Show out of Chicago, with the slogan, “If You Had Wings,” and all kinds of hype about Disney, ending with clips about Disney World, Mickey Mouse, and warm Florida. I couldn’t resist. I’d had enough of gray...
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Working on the Jungle Cruise in the 1990’s

JGR: Nathan, welcome! Thanks for being with us! NN: Thanks. JGR: The first thing I have to ask is how did you become one of the few skippers to work two Jungles? NN: Well, the hardest part was getting hired into the college program at Disneyland, where only about 10% of applicants made it in. Actually, I didn’t even make it at first. I got a rejection letter. But I started a letter writing campaign to my recruiter. They offered me the job the day after I gave up hope. And lo and behold, the offer was for what...
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The Disney Jungle Cruise Spiel

We have made this list in an effort to preserve the many hundreds of witty jokes that have been “spieled” on Disney’s Jungle Cruise for the last 45 years since Disneyland opened. Many of the very best lines are lost over time as even the official Disney scripts change every few years. We hope that this will be a permanent repository for some of the best (and worst) humor ever delivered in the “Tropical rivers of the world.” This is not an official script. While in line: Those of you adventurers entering the world-famous Jungle Cruise, please notice there...
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Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: John Lounsbery

John Lounsbery, one of Walt Disney’s legendary “Nine Old Men,” was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 9, 1911. He graduated from the Art Institute of Denver, in 1932. Moving to Los Angeles, he submitted his work to the Disney Studios and joined the animation team in 1935. His character animation work included Ben Ali of “Fantasia,” Honest John in “Pinocchio”, Timothy in “Dumbo” and Tony in “Lady and the Tramp.” Moving into the role of Animation Director, he worked on “Alice in Wonderland”, “Peter Pan”, “Sleeping Beauty” and ‘Winnie the Pooh” to name a few. His untimely death...
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Conversations with the experts

Dark ride inventor John Wood

John Wood is one of the driving forces of themed entertainment today.  Here’s our conversation with the President of “The Great American Dark Ride Company,” the Sally Corporation of Jacksonville, Florida. We have constantly been creating characters, shows and rides to satisfy our need to succeed and our customers hunger for entertainment. A company like ours has to reinvent itself to some degree regularly. — John Wood   Nate Naversen:  Hi John, thanks for agreeing to this interview. John Wood.  Thanks Nate.  It was my pleasure! NN: First off, how did you get your start in the amusement park...
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Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: John Hench

John Hench (June 29, 1908 – February 5, 2004) was an employee of The Walt Disney Company for more than sixty five years, an exceptionally long tenure which saw the rise of nearly every Disney animated feature and theme park.Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Hench attended numerous art and creative schools across the country, including the Art Students’ League in New York City, the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Starting in 1939 as a story artist, he weaved his way through...
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Imagineering Bio: Joe Rohde

Joseph “Joe” Rohde is a veteran executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, the division of The Walt Disney Company that designs and builds Disney’s theme parks and resort hotels. Rohde’s formal title is executive designer and vice president, creative. He is the lead designer of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. He also is the principal creative force behind the park’s Expedition Everest thrill ride, which debuted in 2006. Rohde joined Imagineering in 1980 during the development of Epcot as a model designer and scenic painter for the...
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Jack Lindquist

Jack Lindquist (b. March 15, 1927 in Chicago) served as the president of the Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, California from 1989 until he retired in 1993. He was a Disney employee from 1955 until his retirement, and was a marketing executive in the theme parks division for almost thirty years, including a stint as the first advertising manager for Disneyland. As a child actor, Lindquist appeared as an extra in several episodes of Our Gang, and appeared in the film Best Foot Forward with Lucille Ball. After Lindquist retired, he received a commemorative window on Main Street, U.S.A.,...
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