Disney+ came to the UK at just the right time. Filled with excellent content from classic cartoons, to groundbreaking Pixar animation, to The Simpsons, Marvel, Star Wars and more, it is a great distraction from this crazy time we are living in. Some of the most surprising and riveting Disney+ content comes from their own documentaries. Whether you’d like to see Jeff Goldblum exploring the world, or see stories of animals in the wild, there’s something for everyone.
The Imagineering story is the perfect quarantine remedy. Telling the story of the Disney parks and the creative minds behind the magic, it begins with Walt Disney himself and his initial ideas, and chronicles all the way up unto 2019 and the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, every Star Wars fan’s dream.
The idea of a theme park, allowing families of all ages to enjoy, stemmed from Walt wanting a place to enjoy with his own daughters. He wanted to stay away from the carnival atmosphere of the funfair, and build something everlasting, filled to the brim with imagination and wonder. Each episode moves through different stages of planning and development, interviews with the incredibly imaginative people involved, footage of each park in it’s early production stages, and amazing behind the scenes glimpses of the pioneering technology created for these parks, this documentary is a rollercoaster in itself.
Not only is this documentary series exploding with wonderful nostalgia, its explanation of ride technologies and innovations are truly fascinating. The process and planning of these magical parks is beyond comprehension. Facing critical deadlines, difficulties with budget, weather damage, land purchases and the scope of Walt’s imagination and vision, there are twists and turns that make you wonder how these parks were ever built, let alone how they became the staple of many family histories and memories as they have.
Episode one looks at Disneyland California, the first of the Walt Disney Parks. Opened July 17th 1955, it was filled with doubts from both investors and the public, building was going up until the very last second, and many people don’t realise that opening day was plagued with disaster after disaster. Crippling heat meant sinking benches, there were an abundance of ride issues and excessive overcrowding, all contributed to an image that the Disney park was a failing institution, before it had even really began. But the public went wild for the magic that they felt inside, and Walt’s vision went far wider than that of just one park, his main dream would be that of the Epcot centre, and expanding to Walt Disney World in Florida.
The documentary highlights well Walt’s desire to build parks that would not only capture the imagination of the visitor, but one that would pioneer new technologies, and help the children of today and the future learn about the world they live in. He wanted it to be an educational but fun experience, one that could be shared between child, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle and everyone in between. Some of the more interesting points of the documentary are the interview segments with Imagineers. Imagineers are the creative minds behind the parks, themes and the rides, without them, the Disney Parks would not be as spectacular. Walt needed their minds to create his vision, and create his vision they did, in the most glorious of ways. They are regarded highly within the company and the world of Disney lovers, however they have faced uncertain times throughout the building of the various parks worldwide. Their passion for creativity is astounding and that never stopped even with changes of CEOs, creative leads and chances of redundancy, their desire to create remained and the things these seemingly ordinary folks are able to create, truly are mesmerising.
This documentary series may seem catered to the hardcore Disney fan, but it is so much more. It delves deep into the new technologies created for the rides, the struggles Walt faced throughout his time involved with the parks, the difficulties faced after his passing, and how Imagineers would keep his vision alive, whilst remaining ahead of the curve. It touches on economical issues and issues with the Disney takeover in tourism, and is generally filled with a warm hug of nostalgia, for anyone who has ever visited a park, or wished they had. It highlights the incredible power of human creativity, and what can truly be achieved when someone is given free reign to depict their vision. A famous quote from Disney himself is “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality”. Without the Imagineers, the Disney parks may never have truly taken off and would have lived within Walt’s head forever. Whether you’re a fan of Disney, a lover of technology and engineering, or just looking for something bright and colourful to fill your lockdown time, this documentary is for you and everyone else too.
Author: Amy, Cardiff store