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An Imagineer’s adventure getting “Magic Journeys” film to EPCOT Center in time for opening day, 32 years ago

An Imagineer’s adventure getting “Magic Journeys” film to EPCOT Center in time for opening day, 32 years ago

Earlier this year, I shared a story from the creation of “Magic Journeys,” the 3D film that debuted with EPCOT Center back in 1982.

Today marks 32 years since that opening day. But just a few days before that, I embarked on an adventure that nearly made that attraction miss its debut.

It all started on September 24, 1982. We were all standing around waiting on a screening of the first print of “Magic Journeys,” the 3D flagship film for EPCOT’s Kodak-sponsored Imagination Pavilion. We were on Stage Two at Walt Disney Productions, which had been my office for the past year and a half, first as the post-production coordinator, then as the post-production supervisor of the films for the EPCOT Center project. Even though I worked for Walt Disney Productions, I also had a boss in Randy Bright, the executive producer for EPCOT Center’s films.

The film came in from Technicolor around 9:30 a.m. to the Editorial Department. I sent an assistant editor over to get it, and put it together on reels so we could screen it for myself, and several others including Bob Gibeaut, the vice-president of studio operations. Bob always looked at every answer print, (a print made with a color timer to the best of the lab’s abilities). While we were waiting, Bob told me that if the print looked good, I would be hand-carrying them that night on the red-eye flight to Florida to get them installed in the pavilion for a screening the following night. That screening would be for all the Disney bigwigs – Card Walker, Donn Tatum, Ron Miller – and all the big CEOs from all the corporate sponsors for all of EPCOT Center. No pressure. He assured me that his secretary was busy making arrangements for my flight – first class – on Delta Airlines, and a room at the Contemporary Hotel.

By 12:30 p.m. we finished looking at the print, and Bob signed off on it. It had taken Technicolor a day and a half to make it, and it was the only good print we had on the film. I called Technicolor right away to have them start making another one. The projectionists came down with the two cans of 70mm film and handed them to me. “Guard them well,” said Bob. I went to his office and picked up the two first class airline tickets from his secretary – one for me, one for the cans of film. It was that serious. Bob went with me to his office on the third floor of the old animation building. “Do not let them out of your sight. I want you to hand carry them through the changeover in Atlanta.”

So shortly thereafter I left with the two cans of film in my 1975 Honda Civic and went home to pack. My wife, with our three-month old first child, drove me to LAX, where the cans and I boarded the 10 p.m. flight to Atlanta. The flight attendant laughed at the cans being in the seat next to me. There was no room for large cans of film in the overhead compartment, and I was under orders to not send them as checked luggage. Off the ground we went. I did not sleep at all on the flight to Atlanta. Then I had to hand-carry two very heavy cans of film as I changed planes in Atlanta (at 4:30 a.m. Atlanta time) for the flight to Orlando.

The next flight attendant also laughed at the two cans occupying the seat next to me, she about the time a famous golfer bought a ticket for their clubs to do the same thing. I did not sleep on the shorter jaunt to Orlando, Florida either. I got my luggage and rental car, still hand-carrying the film.

I stopped off at the Welcome Center in Lake Buena Vista to get my parking pass for EPCOT Center, then I drove on into the WED Enterprises trailer, which was located behind the China pavilion. Once I checked in, I was directed to the office of the head of EPCOT Center’s projection department. He said it would take a couple hours to load it into the film loop cabinets and that I looked like I needed breakfast. I agreed and headed off to the employee cafeteria. I would meet him over at the Imagination Pavilion at 10 a.m.

I got over there, and they were still loading the film into the film loop cabinet. They had to check the final length, and adjust the cabinet. Now, we were supposed to run the film with the show programming at 9 p.m. that night. It had not been tested at all, and I was responsible for that. Finally at noon, we pushed the button and tried running our first test show of “Magic Journeys” in the Imagination Pavilion at EPCOT Center. It was not successful.


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Topics: Disney, Entertainment, Food, Special Events, Theme Parks, Walt Disney WorldTags: , , ,

Disney Fairytale Weddings has unveiled a magical new way to making wedding cakes come to life.

Using projection mapping technology, Imagineers have made Cinderella’s carriage glide across layers of a white cake or even Tinker Bell fly across its tiers. Check out the animation in the video below.


Video: Interactive wedding cake projection mapped from Disney Fairytale Weddings


The images projected onto the cake are fully customizable and can include much more than Disney characters, such as featuring your own photos or home video, transforming the cake into a form of entertainment.

Disney’s wedding cakes aren’t cheap, and these extra special effects surely cost even more, but for those looking to make their special day a bit more magical, this new offering will definitely add that “wow” factor to any wedding.

Cake mapping is currently available for Wishes Collection weddings at Walt Disney World.


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Touring Imagineering with Joe Rohde checks one off the Disney bucket list, reveals hallowed theme park history

Touring Imagineering with Joe Rohde checks one off the Disney bucket list, reveals hallowed theme park history

Recently I was able to cross an item of my very large Disney bucket list. During a Disneyland vacation, I was able to secure a visit to the inner sanctum of Disney: the Walt Disney Imagineering headquarters located in Glendale, California.

But, before I jump into the entire experience of the trip, I should introduce myself. My name is Gavin Doyle and I run DisneyDose.com, a Disney website and podcast featuring interviews and info about the latest in Disneyland and the Walt Disney Company.

Driving down Flower Street in Glendale, you wouldn’t think anything of your surroundings–just office parks and small buildings. Located in this area of Glendale is the majority of the new divisions of the Walt Disney Company (consumer products, animation studios behind “Planes,” and Disney Store) and the legendary Imagineering headquarters.

walt disney imagineering glendale

The outside of 1401 Flower Street is quite unassuming. Just another one of those ugly offices.

But once you past the no photography sign, you have entered into the world of the Disney magic makers. Upon entering the building you are inside of a large lobby with photographs, models, and video screens highlighting the Disney theme parks around the world. Hanging above the security desk is the famous picture of Walt Disney in Disneyland park.

The reason for my visit was to interview Joe Rohde, the creative director of the Adventure’s Club, Animal Kingdom, and Aulani Resort.

This is my favorite photo from the trip coupled with the best quote from the interview.

The following 35 minute conversation was magical. I can see why Joe Rohde uses mostly writing and presentation to create his parks instead of just jumping into drawing. He has a way with words. Why take it from me, when you can hear it from Joe Rohde himself. Check out the entire conversation with Joe on the Disney Dose podcast by clicking play below:

After heading back into the building, we walked through the main lobby again, but this time proceded down a long stretch of hallways. In a regular office building, this would be no big deal, but at Imagineering, every bit of space has a story, just like the parks. The hallway was themed to the Disneyland Monorail Red. The hallway was designed like the interior of a monorail train. Where there would usually be windows, now there were large screens that change as the monorail “travels” to every Disney Destination in the world. When we were walking through, the monorail had just pulled up to the Aulani Resort in Hawaii. Beautiful graphics and perfect mood music made me want to linger in this area, but we had to press on.

Arriving at a hallway crossroads, I noticed on the wall some paintings. Wait a second! These aren’t just any paintings, they are original designs from Imagineers including Marc Davis, John Hench, and many more. My guide informed me that this section rotated featuring different artwork from the Imagineering Research Library.

Next we headed outside to the main courtyard area. In this beautifully manicured garden seating area, you will find a collection of tables and old vehicles from attractions. My favorite is the sky bucket that has now been made into a table. What a great place to dream up new attractions!

This area is just as well themed as the resorts the Imagineers helped to create. Each trash can in this area is from a different park around the world and on all of the light posts, there were large banners promoting the new Ratatouille attraction at the studios park in Disneyland Paris. Off on the side was a large stage, for what I assume must be an Imagineering concert series.

Off of this courtyard, you’ll find what many people believe to be the highlight of a visit to Imagineering, the swanky Imagineering store. Mickey’s of Glendale is filled with tons of Imagineering exclusive merchandise. The testament to that is the $300 receipt that I walked away with.

mickeys of glendale imagineering store

That wasn’t all spent on collectibles just for me. I had to stock up on some pins to giveaway to readers and listeners. In fact, right now I am giving away an exclusive Imagineering pin over on DisneyDose.com for those who leave us a comment about the interview with Joe Rohde. Take a listen and leave a comment to win.

I hope that you enjoyed this tour of Walt Disney Imagineering and our interview with Joe Rohde. Next week I will be back with stories from my time visiting the stage door at the Disney on Broadway shows: Aladdin and Newsies.

Do you have any questions about the experience? Have you ever wished to be an Imagineer? Comment below!


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Topics: Disney, Entertainment, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Theme Parks, Walt Disney WorldTags: , , , , ,

When the news broke last week that a “Frozen” attraction is replacing the classic Maelstrom ride at Walt Disney World, Epcot fans freaked while fans of the recent animated film rejoiced at the chance to see even more of Arendelle.

So we wondered… what do Anna and Elsa think about returning to Epcot in 2016? Well, we asked them just that at the Magic Kingdom. See what they had to say in the video below.


Video: Anna & Elsa talk Frozen return to Epcot, replacing Maelstrom at Walt Disney World


Of course, Anna and Elsa already did return to Epcot recently – for just one day. A group of travel agents held a special breakfast event in which they booked the “Frozen” sisters to appear for effortless meet-and-greets.


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VIDEO: Tribute to Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin’ as Walt Disney World makes changes to classic Epcot entertainment

VIDEO: Tribute to Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin’ as Walt Disney World makes changes to classic Epcot entertainment

This past weekend, Walt Disney World ended a few longtime entertainment acts at Epcot to pave the way for new offerings to come.

One of the now extinct performances is Off Kilter, the bagpipe band that’s been been playing in the Canada pavilion for many years. A massive crowd of hundreds gathered to witness the last songs the band will ever play in the park.


Video: Off Kilter final performance highlights at Epcot


(Thanks to WDW Guided Tours for that video.)

In remembrance of this beloved band, the video below offers a few full songs by Off Kilter on an average day, which generally drew a sizable crowd though nothing nearly as big as for their finale.


Video: Off Kilter performs in Canada at Epcot


Off Kilter will be replaced by the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show some time soon.

Mo’Rockin’ always drew a decent crowd to the Morocco pavilion as well. Whether there for the music or the belly dancing, guests gathered in front of the small outdoor stage whenever this group performed. Now that they are gone from Epcot, they only live on in videos like the one below, a full recent performance of theirs.


Video: Mo’Rockin’ full performance in Morocco at Epcot, Walt Disney World


Two other acts also got the axe this weekend at Epcot: Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps and the World Showcase Players.


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Tributes to Off Kilter, Mo'Rockin', and the Backlot Tour, plus Howl-O-Scream 2014 thoughts from Busch Gardens Tampa.
Date: 09/29/14 | Duration: 01:02:55
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