Walt Disney’s fascinating fairy tales are known for the positive and hopeful message they carry. The Disney animated movies not only help you learn a thing or two about life but also for transporting you to a secret, magical world. Disneyland and other Disney related theme parks are perhaps the only physical pieces of evidence of that Disney fantasy world, where children and grown-ups alike are allowed to dream freely.
But who’s responsible for making it happen?
Apart from Walt Elias Disney himself, hard-working individuals like Kevin Rafferty are the big heroes behind the act. As a Walt Disney Imagineer, Rafferty takes his job seriously and enjoys every single minute of it every day. Without a doubt, he has the happiest job on earth...
Rafferty first started his Disney career in 1974 as a dishwasher in a Disneyland restaurant and four years later he joined the Walt Disney Imagineering team eventually becoming one of the most talented Disney imagineers in the world. Throughout his career, he has worked on countless projects for the Epcot Theme Park and helped developed many famous attractions on the site. As a designer and show writer, he was able to implement his own ideas into reality creating multi-dimensional storytelling experiences for shows and attractions.
Today, he is the senior concept writer and leader of the creative design, responsible for development for new projects and attractions for Disney Parks. He also has something to share with you that can explain his love for this unique job:
As Rafferty states, Disney Imagineers are responsible for bridging the gap between science and fantasy to create the real magical experience that you get at Disney’s theme parks. What they do is design and build theme parks, hotels, cruise ships and other entertainment sites so that people can get out the most of their Disney experience.
This means that a large group of talented designers, illustrators, architects, artists and engineers are working together at the company’s headquarters in California as well as various locations around the globe to create a unique fantasy world harnessing two essential skills; imagination and engineering.
Going back in the 1940s, the term ‘Imagineering’ was coined by Alcoa in an attempt to describe the marriage of imagination and engineering. This distinctive linguistic mash-up perfectly describes the kind of work that Disney Imagineers do. Apart from making dreams a reality though, the general duties of a Disney Imagineer are as follows:
- Developing new concepts for building projects.
- Improving existing attractions to fulfill specific needs and improve guests’ experience.
- Generating ideas without limitation.
Through their work, Imagineers get to develop their skills in a variety of disciplines. According to Walt Disney, Imagineering, working as a Disney Imagineer you get to enhance your expertise and gain experience in the following fields:
- Master planning
- Creative development
- Concept development
- Show writing
- Interior design
- Project management
- Research and advanced development
- Ride systems
- Special effects
- Interactive technology
- Multimedia design
At its core, what Imagineers do is something that’s beyond what other professionals can do. They take brainstorming and inspiration very seriously to the point where they even have the opportunity to watch Disney movies as part of their job duties just to be able to come up with ideas for the next theme park projects.
It’s no coincidence that Walt Disney Imagineering calls the talented Imagineers “the dreamers, the doers and masterminds of magic”. Disney Imagineers think about the impossible and explore ways of making it possible. Essentially they are the innovators of the world; those who take risks trying something different than the ordinary. What they create is magic.
There’s no doubt that Walt Elias Disney hadn’t foreseen this when he first envisioned his dream. In his own words ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’ provide the epitome of every Disney’s theme park existence.
WDI’s motto ‘We Make Magic’ encourages Imagineers to explore alternative paths of creativity and innovation and look deeper into improving their work. This is what Elias Disney meant with ‘plussing’ when he said that ‘Disneyland will never be completed as long as there’s imagination left in the world’.
Disney Imagineers are the people who breathe life into Disney stories and characters presenting them to the rest of the world. As they keep on developing their craft, they are pushing the limits of creativity and imagination as to create new forms of entertainment for the guests for the years to come.
Being an Imagineer must indeed be the happiest job on earth. Other people who work as Disney Imagineers – or want to become one, have said it too! Many described the job as ‘the best job in the whole world’, ‘dream job’, and referred to Disneyland as the happiest and coolest place on earth!
If you consider yourself a creative individual and you are interested in becoming a Disney Imagineer yourself, why not learn more about it? Check out WDI’s Careers and stay informed about Disney news with the Disney Blog. Also, have a look at the video below that shows what it’s like to work as a Disney Imagineer behind the scenes:
The truth is that many Disney enthusiasts want to be like Rafferty. Do you think you have what it takes to become an imagineer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below…