"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Monday, April 30, 2012

I is For......Imagineering

Imagineer. It's a word Walt Disney made up to describe the people who combined imagination and engineering to make his theme parks a reality. A lot of the original Imagineers came from the movies, and they used movie tricks in the construction of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. They used forced perspective to make buildings, and castles, seem higher then they really are. They used fa├žades and hidden areas that were "off camera" or "back stage" to make the visitor feel a part of a fantasy without being interrupted by the mundane things like trash pick-up and food delivery and mechanical infrastructure. As time and technology progressed, the Imagineers developed ever more impressive animatronics, piped smells into attractions to complete the sensory illusions and constructed ride vehicles and apparatus that made visitors fly and dive and take off into space. The Imagineers do more than create the rides though; they have a hand in all things at the Disney parks, from the restaurants to the hotels and even the human resources, oops, I mean "Casting," building. Everything at a Disney park is made possible by the Imagineers.

They have always fascinated me. I loved the word, "Imagineer" the first time I heard it. Making dreams into reality, what could be better than that? And I think I really was impressed because I have zero talent in that direction. I can't draw or paint or play or sing. I am an average mathematician at best. I mean, I have had to Google my son's 7th grade math homework. I don't think anyone wants to ride a roller coaster I designed, you know? I am chock full of imagination, but never had the skills or the talents to bring my imagining to the world, except maybe through writing. But you can't ride a book. No one ever walked into a park and gasped at the sight of a novel. You don't scream as you race around the turns of an article on a blog. I'm thankful for what I can do, but mindful of what I can't and admire those things in others, especially those others who built Disney World and keep improving and adding to it today. I still really look up to the Imagineers, with maybe a tinge of jealousy. I'm not afraid to admit it.

The Castle Iapalucci
But I had an epiphany this weekend. What is Imagineering if not making dreams, or wishes, come true? And who is less afraid to wish, to dream, than a child? Our friends the Iapaluccis have boy named Max who turned 7 just last Friday. Max's mom, Jen, is a stay-at-home mom and LOVES to put on a party. She has directed plays and musicals and holds a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing, I believe. She can flat out plan a kid's party, and so when she asked Max what he wanted for a party, he wasn't the least bit hesitant to dream. Max wanted a
Renaissance Faire party. Now, as an aside, that alone made me a little proud, as we were the ones who invited the Iapalucci crew to their first Renaissance Faire last fall, and apparently Max was impressed. Anyhow, in true Jen fashion, she set about making it happen. She worked on this for a while, getting ideas and planning things and ordering supplies and such. Jen told us about her plans and we enjoyed following the progress, looking forward to the party because they are always fun for everyone, adults and children alike.

Castle Cake
Mom, Fairy Princess, script writer and Imagineer Jen
A couple weeks ago, Jen asked me if I knew anything about deep-frying turkeys. It seems Max was heart set on fried turkey at his party. I did, a little, and I had all the equipment, so I became officially a part of the party prep crew. Of course when you get me, you get the whole Stites family. Lisa and John were more than happy, excited even, to move from party goers to party makers with me. As party day approached I was trying to think of an "I" word to blog about on here, and came up with Imagineering. And I got to thinking that it isn't just the professionals in the employ of The Mouse who are Imagineers. Jen was turning her son's and her own vision into a reality. She was using what she could find, or invent or cobble together, to create a dream come true for Max on his birthday. And we, the Stites Family, were a part of it! I cooked the birds without injury or damage, helped erect a castle, raised Rapunzel's tower and pretty much followed whatever directions Jen gave me. Lisa iced a cake into an amazing fantasy castle with turrets and knights and even a dragon placed by King Max himself. She helped write scripts for a what turned out to be a wild, and wildly entertaining, scavenger hunt and she worked her little fingers off creating banners for the coming little knights and ladies to turn into their own personal heraldry. John was charged with keeping two-year-old Milo from deep frying himself, which he accomplished with patience and love. John, a 12 year old very boyish boy, also cut out all the locks of Rapunzel hair to be used in the pin the hair on Rapunzel game, with good cheer and serious effort. I think John got it. I think he appreciated what Lisa and I were joking (half-joking, if truth be told) about when we said how honored we were to get a glimpse behind the curtain of Iapalucci party prep.

Lisa was born a beautiful Princess, so this wasn't a stretch
I started calling them Iapalucci Imagineering on party day, as we all scrambled to get things just so before the guests arrived. And they are. Jen and Adrian do this sort of thing all the time, really. People go to their house for parties and events and get-togethers, and things are always special, somehow different and unique. I wonder how many of those guests understand the work, the thought, the dreaming, the IMAGINEERING that goes into those times. Well, we understand a little better now. And we are thankful for the chance to play at Imagineering ourselves.


  1. Awwwwwww! Thank you :) We were happy to add some Imagineers to our crew this go around - I can't wait to see what we dream up for the next one!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.