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Planning for a career as an Imagineer.

Walt Disney World: How to plan a career as an Imagineer?

From Brandon Townsend
Posted June 7, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Hi.
My 16 year old daughter wants to have a Disney career as an Imagineer. Her plans are to attend college near Orlando and intern at Disney World while in school (we currently live in Tennessee so she can not work there now). Are there any suggestions as to her specific college or major? Her skills lean more towards the artistic side than the engineering/technical side.

Thanks.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Chad H
Posted June 7, 2012 at 11:18 AM
The guy who wrote the book I'm about to link works as an independent contractor working on Disney rides, and IIRC his wife is an imagineer too. His book gives a lot of insight into the job, the types of imagineer, and career tips.

http://www.amazon.com/Theme-Park-Design-Behind-Engineer/dp/1456309722?tag=duckduckgo-d-20

I havent read it in a few months, but if I remember right, it's not an easy road to travel - but no road worth traveling is.

From TH Creative
Posted June 7, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Brandon,

I am sending a message to the email associated with your TPI profile.

THC

From Tyler Bell
Posted June 7, 2012 at 1:42 PM
TH, Can you also send me the link?

From TH Creative
Posted June 7, 2012 at 2:00 PM
Tyler check your email.

From Dominick D
Posted June 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM
Can I get the link please?

From Andy Milito
Posted June 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM
I'm pretty sure he's posted whatever this link is before. I remember him posting about some link in a thread nearly identical to this. I'll try to dig it up for you...

From TH Creative
Posted June 7, 2012 at 3:45 PM
If you want to learn how to BUILD attractions learn how to BUILD a Walmart ... or a convenience store ... or an office building.

Learn what masonry is ... Learn about schedules and budgets ... Learn what a schedule of values is ... Learn what a contract change order is ... Learn what the letters RFI stand for ... Learn about maintaining OSHA standards ... All of this is as important ... no ... wait ... check that ... All of this is MORE important than learning how to make an alien, or a pirate or a boy wizard.

From Manny Rodriguez
Posted June 7, 2012 at 8:29 PM
Yeah Just Go Back To My Old Disscusion

From Andy Milito
Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Found it! Here, TH, allow me to save you a few e-mails.

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/news/response.cfm?ID=945508743

Scroll down about halfway, you'll the large post from TH. It's the 16th one, to be exact.

EDIT: Huh. It doesn't work for me....Can I get that e-mail then? Sorry :P

From TH Creative
Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:13 PM
Here's the link:

http://intellavia.com/btbdemo/index.html

From Kari Harrison
Posted June 12, 2012 at 8:22 PM
If your daughter is willing to come to the west coast, she should consider UCLA. I took a two part class called "The Art of Entertainment Design." The first part is actually taught by the head of Imagineering's R&D department, with a different guest Imagineer speaking every week about their departments, projects, etc. The second part is more difficult to get into, but it divides students up into teams and you work on a quarter long design project that you present to several Imagineering execs at the headquarters in Glendale. Its a really great way to meet and network with actual Imagineers. I know several people who have gotten internships at imagineering from taking this class. Feel free to email me if you want more information on it.

From KEvin Boutte
Posted June 12, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Hi,

I'm currently a sophmore in college at Texas Tech University, and I have quite a few contacts in Disney Animation and Disney Imagineering. I'm studying Architecture and Civil Engineering. Now, why is this important to know? Because, it doesn't matter where you went to school. Disney, DOES NOT CARE. There is truth to the fact that Disney recruits from certain schools more proactively, however, those schools are actually more competitive cause their portoflios are compared to one another to understand course proficiency and instructor approaches. Why is this important? Because, you can actually begin to understand the personalities of the individual students without ever interviewing them. And, so the average portolfio from a Disney recruited school may not even pass the flip test. This doesn't mean go to a no name school, but she needs to go to a school that she thinks will benefit her learning abilities the most. But if you want a list, here are the best schools for art CalArts, SCAD, Pratt, Ottis, USC, University of Cincinatti, Rhode Island School of Design, Ryman Arts,NYU,and Ringling College. However, realize these schools will eat up any college savings you have quick.UCLA, is a good school cause its imagineering connections, but I would go to USC.The education is way better. SCAD and Ringling would be your top choices for illustration.SCAD offers an imagineering class as well open to most majors. Do not go to Orlando. Their schools are subpar and most creative designers reside in Califorina. So, bad choice. Orlando's satellite primarily deals with show quality standards and the Show and Ride Engineers for onsite installation and production purposes. They are placing alot of people out their now because the expansions with fantasyland and avatar.

Secondly, I mentioned my majors, because the biggest advice I have for your daughter is for her to do what she loves. Because, she has to be great at it first off. The dual major entails that I have an advanced generalist knowledge of a field of study. Why is this crucial? Cause the Imagineer must not only be good at one specific thing, but they must have a general sense of how it will be composed in space. In other words, one must understand tactile experiences on a variety of scales.Because of this, many engineers and techincal careers have ended up crossing over into the concept design side of things at WDI. They simply grasp scale better. And its also why at Pixar only filmakers are allowed to make story pitches.Because, artist are considered people who do not understand project scales very well. They are taught their are no rules in art from a young age. But when millions of dollars are involved, that is far from the case.

So, if she is an artist. She must understand physical scale. She must also understand composition. It is often said throughout the creative HR departments for Disney that they are not looking for the best artistic talent. They are looking for the best storytellers.Yes, you still need to have some talent, but talent gets turned down everyday at Disney. Your daughter must also understand color flow. Color perhaps the one thing which will make or break a design, because it determines mood. And mood determines setting. She must also have a general knowledge of architecture, and a mastering of perspective and the human figure. Infact, if you did your research right, you will notice this is the same basic requirements for most animation and entertainment creative jobs. So, your daughter will most likely need to focus within the entertainment realm of design which will include but is not limited to industrial design, illustration, animation, set design,production design, art direction, visual effects, and the list goes on.

Really, it doesn't matter what you do as Disney Imagineering have people in over 140 disciplines. Depending on the department, many artist have never been formally trained in the Disney-esque approaches to design. Many will be given a mentor, and go through extensive preparation before even being brought on board for an actual project. Many artist will work years without ever working on a project that will be built.

Lastly, to be an imagineer you have to have a capacity and curiosity to learn. Walt, often told his imagineers if they don't know how to do something, "go figure it out!". She must learn to gain tolerance for things she doesnt like to do including technical things. Bob Gurr,a Disney Legend and Imagineer, was an artist but created the designs for pretty much every thing on wheels for Disneyland. He mastered techincal design so well, that Walt thought he was secretly an engineer. But, it is this type of appraoch that makes imaigneering so hard. Theme Park design is 1% idea and 99% percent technical. Which is why most people will never become an imagineer even if they have the best ideas since slice bread. If you want to just come up with ideas, go work for Disney Creative,Inc. They are the think tank for Disney Parks Operations and Marketing Team.Imagineers are technical people. They're craft is unrivaled by the entertainment industry. They worked long nights doing mundane task to get where they are, and they do the exact same thing at Disney everyday. Don't believe me, Pixar designed close to 120,000 storyboards for Brave. the average artist produces 400 peices of concept art for a single atrraction.Most of them will be thrown away.There is a pursuit of perfection. And, as a result your daughter must be prepared to lose plenty in the process in getting to WDI. From a personal experience,I can say friends will be lost, sleep will be lost,relationships will be lost. The cost is high in the beginning but everyone will tell you if you did it for the right reasons the reward is even greater. She should also be prepared to move alot, imagineers are constantly traveling from orlando to burbank to tokyo to paris to hong kong to shanghai.

And, as everyone said- start networking with imagineers. An imagineer told me,once, I have never seen somone become an imagineer without first knowing an imagineer. WDI recieves about 10,000 resumes a year I would say.I know Pixar claimed 20,000 + last year. Do you honestly, think they care about any one of those resumes? 99.99% wont make it past the flip test like I said ealier . They are looking for the one that says hire him/her written on the front. You only get that if you know an imagineer.

You can meet imagineers in various ways if she decides to go to another school bedsides UCLA or SCAD. There is the Disney College Program, Dine with an Imagineer on your next WDW trip, or go to TEA or IAAPA summits and conventions. GET INVOLVED IN THESE ORGANIZATIONS IN COLLEGE. Theme park companies like Disney WDI and Universal Creative recruit students from these organizations profile databases for internships. Joe Rhode, Design Executive for Disney Imagineering, I think is a board Member for IAAPA if I'm not mistaken.Plus it will inspire ideas and allow you to place a pulse on the industry.

I would also encourage your daughter to look into the Disney Imaginations competition in the future. You must be atleast a junior in college to participate. But, all finalist will be considered for iternships and all who apply will be reviewed. There are many people who did not go to the finals who were offered internships. And this is the only time you are allowed to solicit ideas towards WDI for theme park attractions. Before Imagineering was a popular dream job, you use to be able to walk right into the offices and pitch your next great ride. And, if the imagineers were entertained, you were offered apprenticeships. This is how guys like Tony Baxter recieved their jobs. But, Disney no longer does apprenticeships under WDI and most imagineers will be too busy to mentor students not working for WDI. It's kind of an issue where you have to find an imagineer who will put up with you. It's usually the older ones, as their jobs are not trying to be taken by you. But, the older guys know more anyways, so that's not like its a bad thing.

That should pretty much cover how to get into Disney Imagineering.The rest is up to your daughter.

From KEvin Boutte
Posted June 13, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Also, your daughter has some time. So, I thought I should mention some advice for her portfolio when applying to these schools. They should display figure drawing and life drawing skills. There are two ways you can achieve this, as most public schools do not offer adquate lessons on the two subjects. Most of the time you will be doing still life or drawing from photo references in their system. Anyways, to participate in these activities I would take some continuing education classes at your local community college. This will also look great on a college application. Theatre classes will also help your daughter understand the built environment. Participating in her schools theatre productions is also a great exerience and can lead to working on more advanced productions at your local theatre. Also, she should purchase a sketchbook and do a life drawing every single day of anything and everything in all perspectives. Glen Keane, probably the greatet Disney Animator since the Nine Old Men,use to make the interns draw toys to understand stucture of a 3 demensional object. Dont worry about staging the picture either. JUST DRAW! Pick up the "Drawn to Life" series. It is perhaps the bible for any Disney artists.

I would also take up learning how to design maquettes, which are sculptures of characters.They will help your daughter understand design in 3d. You can find tutorials of how to do these as well as other entertainment design "How- to's" at stanwinstonschool.com and thegnonmonworkshop.com. They have some awesome stuff on their sites. The Gnomon School will actually have some great tips on drawing and painting (traditional or digitally). They are also, the official producer of the online talent development program at Pixar and Disney Animation. And some of the lecturers have worked or still work for Disney.

From Jason Read
Posted June 13, 2012 at 8:17 AM
Couple random thoughts:

1) no one gets hired as an "Imagineer"... You get hired as a lighting designer/ mech engineer/ interiors designer/ facility planer/ etc AT Imagineering. So she should really take the time to discover what she loves and get great at it. The key is to make yourself valuable to Disney.

2) departments differ, but many look for people with graduate degrees and/or life experience.

3) Network, network, network. I was in touch with people from WDI for years before I got my first interview. Though many jobs are offered on their website, many more are recruited. Also, be sure to network with Imagineers in the department you want to work in, it's a large group. But you can always ask people in other departments to get you in touch with someone. I'd be careful about networking at events like "dine with an Imagineer"... It could be seen as unprofessional. The Imaginations competition, however, is great.

4) Be patient. It took two years between my first interview and finally starting work at WDI. This is fairly common. Also, there's a huge field of theme park creation companies besides WDI, and they cross pollinate quite a bit. So make sure you love theme park design first and foremost.

5) The school is less important then your skills BUT certain schools have alumni or other connections with WDI, and that opens the door to networking / contacting people in your chosen department. Carnegie Mellon and CalArts are well represented, but any LA school has a leg up.

6) One summer spent in operations at WDW would probably be a great way to learn more about how the parks function. I'd suggest spending the other summers in professional internships in your chosen field. Remember, the key is to make yourself a valuable, energetic, passionate professional so WDI will want YOU.

From TH Creative
Posted June 13, 2012 at 10:23 AM
With all due respect to Kevin and Jason, those insights are all well and good, but what they don't seem to address is the fact the construction of a local 7-11 and the construction of a theme park attraction carry some of the same fundamental requirements.

As I said before: Learn what masonry is ... Learn about schedules and budgets ... Learn what a schedule of values is ... Learn what a contract change order is ... Learn what the letters RFI stand for ... Learn about maintaining OSHA standards ...

All your networking and your creative design and your choice of college and the rest of those HEAVY issues are certainly priorities. But right now, with a modicum of effort, any WDI-wannabe can help themselves by learning the language of commercial construction. And they don't need to have any contacts or pay massive tuition costs to get started.

One way to help your resume stand out is by saying “I know the process. I know how to build stuff.” Take some initiative and learn the basics.

http://intellavia.com/btbdemo/index.html

From KEvin Boutte
Posted June 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM
It depends on the department. Knowing a variety of skills like you mentioned will increase your chances in getting into imagineering, but most of the technical stuff is left to the A and E, anyways. Within WDI, that department breaks down even further. By law, all technical drawings of buildings must be done by them. It's the only way OSHA and the Florida Government will approve it for operation. Ultimately, it has to get approved by an architect who holds residency within the state, as well. You probably know all this already.

I would say the biggest benefit of knowing the plastic abilities of materials would be you don't look like an idiot in front of engineers. But, they will try and make it work regardless of a precedent. Its the "yes, if " principle that WDI swears by in their project approach methodology.Construction Engineering through the use of BIM ,advancements in material sciences, and computer technology have greatly aided the implementation of even the most bizarre ideas.

If you recall the tree of life story, they originally used a cone structural profile because the concept team thought it would be the only way it could be built. Then they bought it to a team of structural engineers and suddenly you are using a oil rig structural frame.

Knowing the technical things will help progression into a show producer, art director, show designers, creative designers and project designer.But for concept artist, it's not the biggest concern. And thats my assumption the field she will be going in, if she doesnt like the technical number crunching.A general understanding of scale will prove the most important for them at that level. My friend is working for WDI as an associate creative designer. It requires a greater technical understanding, but his background in lighting design helps. And even then, he doesn't do much with it except when he has to make a models. Which brings me a great point- learn how to make those as well. From the interns I know and the people who get offerred jobs out of college by imagineering, it will suit your daughter best if she as some technical experience as THcreative recommends. But I don't think she has to know all that stuff. A minor in set design, architecture, or engineering will suffice. Because, imagineers are " renaissance people" ias Ray Bradbury said.

From Anon Mouse
Posted June 13, 2012 at 3:03 PM
"As I said before: Learn what masonry is ... Learn about schedules and budgets ... Learn what a schedule of values is ... Learn what a contract change order is ... Learn what the letters RFI stand for ... Learn about maintaining OSHA standards ... "

With all due respect, this is one class in project management.

Experience is the key. Without job experience, your education means nothing. What you take in class is almost irrelevant. No one look at your transcripts unless you're a recent grad and there's nothing else to evaluate your qualifications. Most people has at least a few years of experience.

The best thing is get hired into Disney at Burbank in the corporate offices. Once inside, you can move around to different projects.

From Brandon Townsend
Posted June 13, 2012 at 7:38 PM
Thanks to everyone for the responses. (And thanks to Robert for posting my question.) There seems to be a multitude of avenues and approaches for a career path to becoming an Imagineer and I appreciate all the helpful comments. I'm glad my daughter knows what she wants to do and is prepared to start preparing early for her dream job. (I'd be happy just to be a Friendship boat driver.) And Cassie says "thanks!" as well.

From Jason Read
Posted June 13, 2012 at 9:48 PM
Everyone's advice is always indicative of their own unique experience and career.

I'd just reiterate two things:

1) the key is to be strong In your given field, and the specific skills required for it.
2) love what you do, that way you'll be happy no matter who you're working for.

From TH Creative
Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:16 AM
Anon Mouse: "With all due respect, this is one class in project management."

I Respond: The Language, documents and processes are universal across all commercial construction projects. Make note of the nature of the thread's question. The young lady is just starting out. My advocacy is based upon what she can do right now to take a big step toward her career. After that, she should become a wiz at using Sketch-Up and begin to introduce herself to Building Information Modelling.

Learning to speak Chinese would also be a wise decision.

From Anon Mouse
Posted June 14, 2012 at 7:51 AM
Spanish would have an immediate impact. The workers are largely Hispanic, probably illegal. You won't need Chinese unless you want to move to China to do business in Shanghai or perhaps Singapore. STOP with all this busy body advice. It is largely useless. The priority is getting a job in Disney. Use techniques to get into the company including networking and interning.

From TH Creative
Posted June 14, 2012 at 8:45 AM
Anon Mouse: You won't need Chinese unless you want to move to China to do business in Shanghai or perhaps Singapore.

I Respond: Or Hong Kong. Of course knowledge of that language would be a huge help during any WDI interview, as the applicant would be demonstrating their value to the company when it comes to working abroad.

Anon Mouse: The priority is getting a job in Disney.

I Respond: And a great first step (in high school) is to take the initiative and understand the fundamentals of commercial construction. To be able to read column lines or title block on a construction drawing. To understand the role of specifications. To be able to define terms like scope of work. If I were this child's parent, I would invest a little cash and have her take the USF 10 hour OSHA course on construction (to understand safety).

If this student invests the time to understand these fundamentals, she will be miles ahead of her classmates when she reaches college.

http://intellavia.com/btbdemo/index.html

From Anon Mouse
Posted June 14, 2012 at 11:06 AM
"understand the fundamentals of commercial construction"

You do understand that much work at Disney is not construction, which is often contracted out. Those construction workers should be looking for new jobs just about now, or a few months ago.

Most work at Disney is design and even then, the design work can be contracted out. Disney is in the inspiration business.

Why not look at Disney's job listings? You can tailor your education and resume to match the jobs being offered.

As for Chinese, what value is mere language when Disney can hire a native speaker with connections!!! There are plenty of Chinese expatriots in the US right now. The values of an American employee has to be geniune. It can't be just a mix of line items on a resume. If she wants to work in China, she can go abroad for a few months in the summer teaching English to the Chinese and learn valuable Chinese language skills and culture; however, she will be sidetracked and she may never get to Disney.

From TH Creative
Posted June 14, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Okay.

From TH Creative
Posted June 14, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Anon Mouse writes: "You do understand that much work at Disney is not construction, which is often contracted out. Most work at Disney is design and even then, the design work can be contracted out."

I Respond: Thanks for explaining it to me. I genuinely appreciate your qualified insight into the company's construction process. You can always learn something new.

From Anon Mouse
Posted June 14, 2012 at 1:36 PM
"I genuinely appreciate your qualified insight into the company's construction process."

The construction process is dictated from John Lasserter, a noted construction expert that somehow makes it happen.

Goodness, I wish you'll elaborate on how Disney works so we can all get educated. If the goal is getting a job at Disney, we should steer her in that direction. All this other stuff will sidetrack her.

A job search is in several parts. First, a resume must have key words. Second, an interview must show competence. Third, a background check must pass standards (criminal, credit, education, experience). Focus on the goal. Don't get sidetracked from useless advice.

From TH Creative
Posted June 14, 2012 at 3:02 PM
Well the language, documents and processes of commercial construction are largely universal. From the design to the bid process through project close-out the approach to commercial construction is largely the same whether you are building a doctor's office, a restaurant or a theme park attraction. Of course there are differences dictated by the actual purpose for the finished building, but the core of the process carries many common paths.

The Owner (in this case Disney) wants to complete a project. The Owner's concept goes through a process of design (using both in-house and/or contracted parties). Within the process of design all parties look for efficiencies and cost driven elements within the project.

As the process moves forward, the designers are creating construction drawings and compiling construction specifications identifying how the project will be constructed.

In this way, knowledge of commercial construction language, documents and processes is essential.

At some point in the design process general contractors participate in a bid to oversee construction of the project. During that portion of the project the general contractors interested in building the project will forward requests for information (RFIs) to the designer -- ostensibly to clarify undeveloped areas of the design.

Once the general contractor is selected they will work with the designers to (again) identify areas to reduce costs (this is referred to as value engineering) and establish a construction schedule that interfaces the activities of different subcontractors.

Eventually the construction drawings and specifications associated with the project will have progressed to the point where they will be circulated to various subcontractors who will evaluate (or "take-off") the drawings to formulate a bid proposal. During this process the subcontractors will likely forward RFIs to clarify the conditions appearing within the drawings. The bid proposals are forwarded to the general contractor. The bid price is advanced along with exclusions and inclusions associated with the specified scope of work.

A group of subcontractors is eventually selected to commence construction. These subcontractors will then work with the general contractor to create a schedule of values -- to determine the value of each phase of completed construction and dictate the project's budget and the rate and amount that the subcontractor will be paid.

In addition to a schedule of values, subcontractors will forward submittal packages, providing detailed information regarding the materials they intend to use on the project. This data is reviewed by the general contractor, architects and owner for approval.

Most recently, the pre-construction phase requires subcontractors to participate in Building Information modeling (or BIM) to identify problems with the building’s design. A 3D rending of the project in each phase of construction is created with all subcontractors participating.

As construction progresses, construction drawings and/or specifications may be deemed to be incomplete or not feasible. This often results in an RFI and/or a design change. These changes will usually result in a contract change order that can either increase or decrease a subcontractor's contract value and have an impact on the construction schedule.

As the project moves forward participating subcontractors must also adhere to safety requirements -- including the implementation of ongoing safety training.

As the work of each subcontractor progresses, inspectors will sign-off ensuring the work is completed to code.

At the point of close-out (when a subcontractor's work is complete) certain documentation must be provided to the Owner. Warranties and maintenance manuals are often required. Further, the subcontractor will likely need to provide "as-built" construction drawings that illustrate any design changes that occurred during construction.

In the case of theme park attractions there are specialty subcontractors (animation, lighting sound, etc.) that can be unique. But the subcontractors hired to complete this work will still follow the same basic processes (bid proposal, schedule of values, submittals, RFIs, safety, inspections, as-builts etc.).

That's a very general description of the process. A more detailed description can be found in my textbook 'Building the Building -- An Introduction to Commercial Construction Project Management.'

The textbook is being developed into an on-line E-Learning program. A demonstration edition of the program can be found at this link:

http://intellavia.com/btbdemo/index.html

The content of the program is drawn from my 20 year career in commercial construction -- which includes working as a subcontractor or in project management on construction projects on the Walt Disney World property.

And hey, Anon Mouse, drop me an email and I might send you a complimentary copy of the textbook. :o)

Best wishes!

From Anon Mouse
Posted June 14, 2012 at 3:48 PM
Amazing. Okay, will this be brought up in an interview? Are there currently any projects lining up that will reach the point in which this young recruit will be heading a construction project? Highly unlikely. It is unlikely they will let her manage a construction project. They will ask her to process the documentation and that's about it.

Again, you've gotten sidetracked.

The goal is to get a job in Disney. Imagineering isn't just about construction. A lot is the design and planning phase. By the time you get to construction, most people look towards the next project. Since construction is the last phase of a project, you should worry since the job is almost done. Many get laid off.

"The content of the program is drawn from my 20 year career in commercial construction -- which includes working as a subcontractor or in project management on construction projects on the Walt Disney World property."

Okay, I know where you're coming from, but there are many opportunities in Imagineering, not just this discipline.

I happen to work for a Technology company. Telling someone to learn about hardware is just a useful as telling someone to learn about finance and programming. They are all disciplines used in my company and some talented people do manage to switch between disciplines. There is more than one route to Imagineering.

From TH Creative
Posted June 14, 2012 at 4:45 PM
Anon Mouse asks: "Okay, will this be brought up in an interview?"

I Respond: I would hope that the applicant and the applicant's resume would advance the fact that they have comprehensive knowledge of the commercial construction process from point of design through close-out. The ability to envision an attraction from blue-sky to grand opening is an INCREDIBLE qualification that should bolster any candidates prospects for placement with ANY owner.

Anon mouse asks: "Are there currently any projects lining up that will reach the point in which this young recruit will be heading a construction project?"

I Respond: I am not sure. However while this young lady's first employer may not be Disney, knowledge of the commercial construction process would allow her to find placement (and garner actual real world experience) in commercial construction.

Anon Mouse writes: "It is unlikely they will let her manage a construction project. They will ask her to process the documentation and that's about it."

I Respond: Which is the role of a project engineer which is exactly where I started. In the 20 years since my entry into the field, I have never experienced a prolonged period of unemployment. This career spans building construction projects at Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. Building resort hotels like the JW Marriott Tower, the Orlando Ritz Carlton, the Hilton at Bonnet Creek and the 32-story Peabody Tower and convention center. I have also managed renovations at the Walt Disney World's Caribbean Beach and Dolphin resorts. I started as an entry level employee that would "process the documentation." I learned the language, documents and processes of project management and met my career objectives.

Anon Mouse writes: "Imagineering isn't just about construction. A lot is the design and planning phase. By the time you get to construction, most people look towards the next project."

I respond: ABSOLUTELY INCORRECT! The designers (architects) play a role throughout the construction project. RFI's must be addressed by the designers. Changes related to schedule, budget, feasability, durability, marketing, operations and maintenance are all involved during construction and the designers are 100% hands-on involved in those considerations. These buildings are changed in design throughout the project. From creative, special effects to the core trades. No, the designers do not move on. They stick with the project as it is being built.

Furthermore, the design phase has seen greater involvement by the construction team, the general contractors and the subcontractors. They have to be, as the design phase is forward thinking and takes into account the viability of fabrication (construction). BIM modelling is a defacto virtual construction exercise. In theme park construction, some owners are REQUIRING that subcontractors allot for BIM activities.

Anon Mouse writes: Since construction is the last phase of a project ...

I Respond: There is no last phase of a project until it's opened and years later it is decided it shoule be replaced and demolished.

Anon Mouse writes: "... but there are many opportunities in Imagineering, not just this discipline."

I Respond: And knowing the fundamentals of commercial construction will assist a candidate in pursuing any of those opportunities. To sit back and say that a fundamental knowledge of commercial construction would not assist someone seeking placement at WDI is uninformed.

From Mike Shirley Jr
Posted June 14, 2012 at 5:57 PM
Wow....petty.

I really hope Brandon has moved on from this thread. This thing went from insightful to sad quickly.

From KEvin Boutte
Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:27 PM
This a pointless argument. His daughter is not trying to become joe rhode, Craig Russel or Wing Chao...the fact you ( thcreative) compared Disney to building a 7-11 disturbs me, and makes me think you lack the creative capacity to understand what this girl is trying to do.

She is a trying to be a designer for the concept and creative department. Knowing construction methodology will not help her, unless she trying to take tony baxters job. and it took him prob 20+ years to get there. I'm pretty sure by then his daughter would know how to make an attraction from start to finish.

And the concept models are made out of foam core. In architecture we build models and we didn't know anything about construction. If it stood up it mean it could be be built.

In fact, in engineering you don't even learn how to apply structural design into your 4th year. So the thought of even knowing all that stuff is ludacris at her level.

I understand you are trying to prepare her, but she doesn't like technical stuff. And, there are a lot of imagineers who don't. That's why they stay as art directors and concept artist. It's really that simple. I don't think Ryan church ever built a set in his life, but is one of the best concept designers for movies in the world. And don't think Ray Bradbury built a geodesic dome with buckminister fuller before he wrote the treatment for Spaceship Earth.I don't think Walt Disney got mad at Mary Blair because her design style wasnt realistic. You are just trying to promote your own agenda, and all the gentleman asked was what could he do to prepare her daughter for a non technical career at imagineering. All that technical mumbo jumbo is fodder for no one besides the people who are trained in technical fields. That's why Disney imagineering has two sides- creative and architecture and engineering. The left brain and the right brain. That's why architecture firms have design teams and post production teams. And it's probably why engineers and architects don't like people in construction. And why Disney has 1000s of ideas drawn as concept art, which will never be built because technology hasn't caught up. If you ,honestly, think that a concept designer is thinking about the cost of materials before he touches a pencil to his paper, I can see why you are still in construction.

From Mike Shirley Jr
Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:06 PM
Screw it. Tell her to be a Character.

From Mike Shirley Jr
Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:15 PM
Kevin,

Then how is TH suppose to hoch his wares?? Think, man, think!!

Brandon,

I'm a packaging engineer. I engineer packaging. If I'm a packaging engineer @ Disney, I'm a packaging IMAGineer.

See what I did there? Just add IMAG to any job title and she's golden!

In all seriousness. I really do hope that she completely ignores everything that was previous said in this thread. It's useless. Not one piece of advice offered here will apply to her unique experience. Tell her to make her own path. If she continues to want it, it'll happen.

From KEvin Boutte
Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:17 PM
Hahaha...it would seem that way.

From KEvin Boutte
Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:26 PM
I agree....as imagineer Paula Dinkel said,  ”Don’t try to be an Imagineer! Work hard to be the best you can be at whatever you do, get an education, keep on learning, maintain your sense of wonder and discovery and have a good life.”

From Anon Mouse
Posted June 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Her skills are artistic as previously stated. She would never touch engineering or construction or architecture.

From TH Creative
Posted June 15, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Mr. Boutte: “… fact you ( thcreative) compared Disney to building a 7-11 disturbs me, and makes me think you lack the creative capacity to understand what this girl is trying to do.”

I respond: Both of those construction projects have HVAC systems, electrical systems, plumbing, masonry, paint, flooring, drywall and other architectural considerations. Both of these construction projects are being constructed as operating structures. These considerations are taken into account from concept through close-out. Fundamental knowledge of the role these play in the development of a commercial construction project will assist someone in attaining their career objectives with WDI. I speak from my own experience building theme park attractions.

Mr. Boutte writes: “And the concept models are made out of foam core.”

I Respond: Lately concept models used for construction employ Building Information Modeling software. BIM’s software is owned and maintained by the same people who created AutoCadd. In the design phase BIM focuses on the core trades (the same that are used in that 7-11). To explore concepts. If this young person is going to go into design knowing BIM and how to construct a building will assist here. You can find animated BIM design models for the "Dwarf Mine Train" all over the net (See Below). BIM models begin with the core trades.

Mr. Boutte writes: In fact, in engineering you don't even learn how to apply structural design into your 4th year.

I respond: What I am suggesting that a student learn at this stage of their career is far more rudimentary than engineering or structural design. This is fundamental stuff.

Mr. Boutte writes: “You are just trying to promote your own agenda …”

I Respond: I’m not sure what you mean by that, but I did contact Mr. Townsend by email and offer him a complimentary copy of the textbook. And I hope you will make note that at no time during this discussion did I reject anyone’s ideas about networking, or college nor any other suggestion. Having built attractions with different parks (including WDI) I offered advice based upon my own experience on how she might move forward. The textbook I offered (at no charge) teaches the language of construction and it is something that this young person can do right now on her own.

Mike Shirley writes: “Then how is TH suppose to hoch his wares?”

I respond: Again, I offered a copy of the text to Mr. Townsend for free. I’m not selling anything. In fact if Mr. Shirley, Mr. Boutte or Anon Mouse want to drop me an email, I will forward a PDF copy of the text … no charge.

Mr. Shirley writes: In all seriousness. I really do hope that she completely ignores everything that was previous said in this thread. It's useless.

I Respond: Oh I disagree with that. Kevin Boutte’s exceptional piece on schools was great. Chad H’s comments on the book was a good idea. Jason Read’s thought’s were also helpful. Kari Harrison deserves credit for her recommendation on the "The Art of Entertainment Design" class.

Anon Mouse writes: “She would never touch engineering or construction or architecture.”

I respond: Mr. Townsend does indicate his daughter’s “skills lean more towards the artistic side than the engineering/technical side.” Beyond that I have never made an acquaintance with either him or his daughter so I would not be so bold as to use a phrase like “never.” And while she may not pursue those career choices, cursory knowledge of their fundamental attributes might be helpful.

Again, if anyone wants to read the textbook drop me a line.

From TH Creative
Posted June 15, 2012 at 12:54 PM

From Anon Mouse
Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:05 PM
I have an electrical engineering degree and it is likely my cursory knowledge of construction is at best faking it. It would also be true of mechanical and structural engineering. To suggest someone who is an artist to have the technical background without formal training is a mistake. Usually, a company takes in a new employee and trains them with the skills they consider most promising. Certainly, a better grounding of design is the desired direction and then there's computer design. The leap to construction is a huge leap. After working 20 years in aerospace, I never went beyond electrical design. Every discipline has its silo. I moved on to reliability. You can work in reliability for 20 more years. The best advice is focus on what you want to do in imagineering. Interview for the position and nothing more. Certainly you must show flexibility if they want more from you. Anticipate the natural branches, not the outrageous leaps.

Btw, construction is a subcontracted job. You speak of working outside of imagineering. If she did it in an interview, she'll sound ridiculous.

From TH Creative
Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:47 PM
Anon Mouse writes: "To suggest someone who is an artist to have the technical background without formal training is a mistake."

I Respond: I can't find a single example of anyone in this thread that advocates someone having "the technical background without formal training." I am suggesting an aspiring student understands what the letters RFI and HVAC stand for. That type of training does not need to be formal, technical or certifiable.

Anon Mouse writes: "construction is a subcontracted job. You speak of working outside of imagineering. If she did it in an interview, she'll sound ridiculous."

I Respond: There is a disconnect between the first two sentences and the third. Knowing the meaning of the words/processes "contract change order," "scope of work," and "schedule of values," behooves a person aspiring to design AND construct theme park attractions.

And the use of the word "ridiculous" is a demonstration of hyperbole.

Anon Mouse writes: "The leap to construction is a huge leap."

I Respond: Understanding the fundamentals of construction does not require a commitment to establishing a career in construction. Knowledge is power. Knowledge of the construction process would benefit a concept artist, designer and (of course) architect.

Anon Mouse writes: "The best advice is focus on what you want to do in imagineering."

I Respond: And to bolster the knowledge and qualifications that will assist in achieving those objectives -- like fundamental knowledge of construction.

And (again) if you go to my TPI profile and "send a message," I will provide you a FREE copy of the program I have developed ... and then you could make an informed assessment of what I advocate.

Or you could just evaluate my advocacy based upon the general content of a discussion thread.

From Mike Shirley Jr
Posted June 15, 2012 at 6:36 PM
I appreciate your offer, TH, but I'm good.

There's an app for that.

Oh, and I stayed at a Holiday Inn express last night.

From TH Creative
Posted June 15, 2012 at 7:01 PM
Mr. Shirley writes: "I appreciate your offer, TH, but I'm good. There's an app for that."

I Respond: Actually there really isn't. My team has done the research.

Previously you contended "This thing went from insightful to sad quickly."

I respnd: I will assume your assessment was one of tone and not content. Because to dismiss content while refusing to regard its presentation (sans any cost) would be ... well, less than credible.

Of course my offer stands. If you would like a FREE copy of the program's first edition just send me an email. At the very least Mr. Shirley, my offer should motivate you to retract you claim that my participation in this discussion was an exercise wherein I was attempting to (your EXACT words) "hoch" my wares.

From TH Creative
Posted June 15, 2012 at 7:11 PM
And (again) Mr. Townsend I would be delighted to provide your daughter with a FREE copy of my text. While there are people on this thread that have critcized me for advocating knowledge about consstruction management, I believe a father and his daughter should evaluate and discuss such considerations as it fits in their schedules.

From Mike Shirley Jr
Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:05 PM
Again, TH, I kindly decline your offer

My statement of "There's an app for that." was a reference to a marketing tag line from Apple in 2009. If also references the infinite amount of information available to those who choose to pursue it, regardless of topic.

Indeed, my comment regarding the thread was referencing tone and not content. I don't dismiss content nor do I believe I've provided any that would necessitate defense of any perceived credibility. I have the least amount of credibility of any one I know.

Pardon my spelling in the previous post, but I stand by my statement that you "Hock your wares".
This was a turn of phrase to represent the consistent, repetitive and inundating references to the availability of your work. Irregardless of the lack of financial gain, it read like a salesman who tags it to the end of every statement. I'm sure you and your colleagues are proud of your work, and I wouldn't dare judge the value of it's content without reading it. The repetitive offers came across like a spammer. I don't think the availability of your content necessitated refrencing that availability to the same person multiple times. Hence the impression, however unintended, that you were using the thread to hock your wares.

From TH Creative
Posted June 15, 2012 at 9:05 PM
Mr. Shipley writes: "Hence the impression, however unintended, that you were using the thread to hock your wares."

I Respond: The word that stands out is the word "impression." The thread began with a guy trying to assist his daughter's career aspiration. You evaluated the response based upon an "impression." The second post on this thread was directed at Mr. Townsend. I offered to send his daughter a copy of the text (that you have refused to regard and evaluate) at no cost. Embrace your impressions. After all they accommodate your cynicism.

From Mike Shirley Jr
Posted June 15, 2012 at 9:07 PM
TH Creative writes: "The second post on this thread was directed at Mr. Townsend."

I respond: It was not your intital response that formed my impression, but the subsequent responses that consistently included a reference to your work. My regard for your text is that it exists, as I currently have no interest in the subject matter. My cynicism regarding your motivation is based completely on the salesmanship behavior you've exemplified above. Again, I believe it was unintended, but is rather evident in your repetition That's what motivated the remark and why it needn't be retracted, merely seen as the perspective of an observer. My impressions don't accomodate my cynicism, as that would suggest I'm a cynic first. Instead my impressions lead me to conclusions that may be altered, but never retracted when so readily evident.

From TH Creative
Posted June 15, 2012 at 9:55 PM
Mr. Shipley writes: "It was not your initial response that formed my impression ..."

I Respond: Apparently.

MR. Shipley writes: "...but the subsequent responses that consistently included a reference to your work."

I Respond: None of which in any fashion indicated as commercial nature. There is absolutely NO indication that this was a sales pitch -- in this or in previous threads wherein I have offered the text free of charge. But then I understand how suspicion and cynicism would lead narrow minds to that easy (VERY EASY) conclusion.

AND BY THE WAY ... I DID NOT PROVIDE ANY LINK TO MY WORK (Building the Building) UNTIL TWO POSTERS REQUESTED THAT I PROVIDE A LINK.

Mr. Shipley writes: My regard for your text is that it exists, as I currently have no interest in the subject matter.

I Respond: But you judge its motivation and value nonetheless.

Mr. Shipley writes: "My cynicism ..."

I Respond: Thanks for admitting it."

Mr. Shipley continues "... regarding your motivation is based completely on the salesmanship behavior you've exemplified above."

I Respond: Which was formulated because you were ignorant about the fact that the program was offered to the original poster free of charge. And regardless you are offering a subjective assessment based upon impressions. Dare anyone regard it otherwise.

Mr. Shipley wites: Again, I believe it was unintended ..."

I Respond: Evidently.

Mr. Shipley writes: "That's what motivated the remark and why it needn't be retracted..."

I Respond: Not sure that anyone asked you to retract anything. But as the world revolves around ... Well, what ever makes you comfortable.

From Mike Shirley Jr
Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Ah, TH, you forget so soon?

"At the very least Mr. Shirley, my offer should motivate you to retract you claim that my participation in this discussion was an exercise wherein I was attempting to (your EXACT words) "hoch" my ware"

To paraphrase Shakespeare:
"The man doth protest too much, methinks"

TH writes: But then I understand how suspicion and cynicism would lead narrow minds to that easy (VERY EASY) conclusion.

I respond: Neither suspicion nor cynicism lead to the conclusion, only observation of your behavior. The ease of which the conclusion was reached, regardless of the width of ones mind, supports the obvious nature of the evidence on which the conlusion was based, doesn't it?

Th writes: ...you were ignorant about the fact that the program was offered to the original poster free of charge. And regardless you are offering a subjective assessment based upon impressions. Dare anyone regard it otherwise.

I respond: You're missing the point. The text you are offering, it's content, lack of price, etc., is completely inconsequential. You offered it to everyone....repetitively. It's not WHAT you're giving away, but HOW you're attempting to do so that motivated the comment you so deeply object to.

You feel you have something to offer. I get. It doesn't preclude myself or anyone else to view your multiple, repetative attempts as excessive and unnecessary. If you feel you need to include a reference to your text in every post, then you open yourself up to suggestions that the distribution of the text is a motivation for the post itself.

From Manny Rodriguez
Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Mike Whats The Name Of the App

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