Walt Disney was already an accomplished filmmaker and technological innovator by the early 1950s. But never satisfied with what he’d already done, he was always looking for the next incredible idea that would allow him to flex his creativity, find new ways to tell stories, and stretch the talents of his staff. He had long contemplated the idea of a “family park,” reflecting his desire to take his young daughters somewhere they could all have fun together. And when he couldn’t find such a place, he decided to build it himself.
Walt created WED Enterprises—which would later become Walt Disney Imagineering—to conceive, design, and build Disneyland. He recruited his top storytellers, artists, and mechanical experts from his studio—the original Imagineers—and in less than three years, Disneyland went from initial concept to opening day.
The interactive and immersive storytelling that drove the success of Disneyland would blossom elsewhere with the creation of Walt Disney World and many other ventures. As the organization expanded, it outgrew its offices at the Disney Studio and relocated, in 1961, to an industrial park in Glendale, California, where it still exists today.
The word “Imagineering” reflects the merging of creativity (imagination) and technical know-how (engineering), and today more than 1,400 Imagineers, representing more than 140 disciplines—from artists, writers, and architects to engineers, scientists, and project managers—continue to blend art and science to push the limits of innovative storytelling.
As Imagineering celebrates its 60th anniversary on December 16, Walt’s “backyard laboratory” is still dedicated to the creative design and development of Disney family entertainment experiences around the globe, from the debut of Cars Land earlier this year to last week’s opening of New Fantasyland at the Walt Disney World Resort to the upcoming Shanghai Disney Resort and other exciting projects in the works.
Imagineering will always embody the most fundamental principles of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts: storytelling, creativity, and innovation. And just as in Walt’s day, the spirit of restlessness and desire to achieve the impossible continues to drive all of our Imagineers, cast, and crew to reach new heights.