Imagineers are curious creatures by nature. We are eager to learn about the world around us, and we use that knowledge to bend our world into something new. We are constantly inspired by emerging technology and galvanized by using it to tell stories and build experiences in novel and compelling ways. And we’re also inspired by our guests — by their diverse perspectives on the world, by their range of experiences and backgrounds, by their passion, and by the varied and rich traditions and cultures that they bring with them when they enter a Disney destination anywhere on the globe. This combination of inspiration and curiosity drives Imagineers to keep our parks and experiences in a constant state of becoming … of becoming more vibrant, more inclusive, more delightful, more authentic and more relevant.
A Tradition of Change
The notion that Disney parks would be constantly evolving traces its roots to the earliest days of Disneyland. Walt described his dream as “something that will never be finished.” He imagined the park as a place “that I can keep developing, keep ‘plussing’ and adding to—it’s alive.” He considered Disneyland “a live, breathing thing that will need changes.” Walt’s vision came quickly true as Imagineers began tinkering with Disneyland almost immediately after the park debuted in 1955. His original team paid attention to where visitors were naturally taking breaks, and they added benches. They observed navigation patterns and then redirected walkways to accommodate. And they noted how guests reacted to various attraction elements and made adjustments to enrich those experiences.
A Park Alive
Walt was committed to embracing change as a path to constant improvement, and Imagineers today are proud to continue his heritage. All around the world, Disney parks welcome guests from many nations and with many different contexts for how they engage with the stories, characters and environments that make Disney experiences so special. Imagineers are honored to embrace that range of perspectives, to learn from that diversity, and to ensure that our parks are always expanding their capacity to include and deepening their promise to reflect the full vitality of our guests. That means paying attention as sensibilities evolve, and actively updating themes that were once commonplace but no longer resonate with today’s audiences. And it means making thoughtful choices to ensure that Disney parks and experiences always represent our guests and create a place where all are welcome and feel at home.
One of the most rewarding parts of being an Imagineer is knowing how deeply passionate our guests are about the parks and experiences that we create. We take that passion seriously, and we understand that there is great responsibility in modifying the inspiration for cherished memories. The work of balancing legacy with innovation requires true care and consideration. Changing an existing experience must be done with respect for the past, but with an enthusiastic commitment to keeping the park always becoming … to developing new magic for the future. We are grateful that guests have ultimately embraced new experiences, and there are countless examples—of changes both large and small—that have become new treasured parts of the Disney parks vocabulary:
- To infuse Disney stories into the classic “it’s a small world” attraction, Imagineers added favorite characters such as Aladdin, Cinderella and Pinocchio in the style of the original dolls, to take their places in song and celebration among the children of the world.
- Pirates of the Caribbean has often delighted guests with new magic and additions, including the introduction of beloved characters from the popular film series of the same name.
- The thrills and action of an epic universe landed in Disney California Adventure when The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ was transformed into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
- Imagineers are currently developing a new storyline for the Splash Mountain attraction that will take Tiana and her friends from The Princess and the Frog on a musical adventure as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance. The retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive —one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.
- Imagineers are building on the story of the Jungle Cruise at both Disneyland park and Magic Kingdom Park to include new adventures that stay true to the experience guests know and love – more humor, wildlife and skipper heart – and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.
A Never Ending Quest
In musing about his original park, Walt also said, “Disneyland is a thing that I can keep molding and shaping … everything I do, I keep a practical eye towards its appeal to the public.” Imagineers are ever devoted to that mission, to ensuring that our parks and experiences are as splendid and captivating on your hundredth visit as they were on your first.