Imagineering is the process of devising and implementing new or highly imaginative concept or technology in practical form. It is commonly associated with the Walt Disney Company, whose Imagineering Department creates, plans, and builds Disney amusement parks and attractive destinations all over the world. However, contrary to popular belief that Walt Disney coined this term by conjoining the words “imagination” and “engineering”, it was actually the Alcoa Corporation, an American industrial company, who created it.

Imagineering has since been used in various fields; such as geography, politics, and urban design. Imagineers have a wide-range skillset, where several jobs are entailed under this classification; this includes, but is not limited to, scientists, architects, engineers, artists, illustrators, graphic designers, lighting designers, and writers. Along the years, Disney Imagineers made several inventions and numerous innovations; such as Audio-Animatronics and WEDway.

Audio-Animatronics is a type of robotics used in attractions and shows in amusement parks, which enabled Disney to animate objects in 3D instead of 2D. The concept design was thanks to Disney’s enchantment with a mechanical bird that he bought in New Orleans, which resulted in the creation of “The Enchanted Tiki Room”; an attraction located in Disneyland with audio-animatronic chirping and singing birds. Audio-Animatronics are nowadays notably present in many famous destinations in Disney theme parks, and visitors are free to communicate with a few of the Audio-Animatronics; such as Lucky the Dinosaur, Remy from Ratatouille, and WALL–E.

WEDway was a system to move people through using linear induction motor technology to push vehicles on steel rails. The system was developed by Walter Elias Disney (WED) Enterprise, which is now known as Walt Disney Imagineering. Disneyland owns a unique variant of the system, which uses rubber wheels located every approximately 2.7 meters on the guideway, which was utilized from 1967 until 1995.

With the passage of time, Imagineering created and designed galleries, hotels, and retail shops to maintain a certain atmosphere. When you visit a Disney amusement park, it feels like you enter a show and become immersed in the story. Furthermore, Disney Cruise Ships provide a sea adventure, which creates a beautiful mood. Restaurants and stores also in the amusement park have a tale to tell; all details are meticulously designed, from the menus to the actors’ outfits.

Disney theme parks are enjoyed through using your senses; such as smelling fresh cookies on walking along Main Street, which complements the experience of small-town America at the beginning of the century. Moreover, Walt Disney World uses the forced perspective technique at the Cinderella Castle, where the architectural scale of the elements is considerably smaller in the upper castle parts, when compared to the foundation. This makes it look relatively taller than its actual height, which is approximately 58 meters.

Nowadays, due to the rapid technological development, people have higher expectations; for instance, in the “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” game, guests start their adventure at the Secret Sorcerers Coaching Center in Main Street, then they are told that a group of Disney villains are threatening to take control of the Magic Kingdom. Those courageous enough to join are provided a map of five collectible spell cards, and mystic portals prior to being assigned 15–20 minute tasks, which include analytical roleplay, problem solving, and treasure hunts, whilst searching the park.

Another example for using technology is the “Fortuna” adventure, where guests search for pirate gold in the theme park, using clues and solving puzzles along the way. Fortuna is partially-scripted by computer software, and the rest of the story depends on the participants’ actions. Nonetheless, Imagineers work on designing an experience where no two guests enjoy the same adventure, having varying ends. Tales unfold according to the people participating in them and are not scripted stories.


Disney was always about telling fascinating stories and communication between the characters and the audience, as well as the communication between audience members. That is why the human element is still important and cannot be replaced until robotics is drastically improved.


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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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