Imagineer Podcast
Tom K. Morris: 35 Years at Walt Disney Imagineering

Tom K. Morris: 35 Years at Walt Disney Imagineering

April 3, 2021

Tom K. Morris, former Creative Development Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, led an impressive 35-year career with WED. Working at Walt Disney Imagineering from 1980 until 2016, Tom helped to develop attractions like Journey Into Imagination, Star Tours, Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris, and Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park. Tom also served as an executive producer for Hong Kong Disneyland, and he helped develop concepts for attractions like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: Starring Aerosmith and DisneyQuest. Beyond his role in Imagineering, Tom is also a lifelong Disney fan and a fellow Disney historian.

In this episode, I have the honor of chatting with Tom about his early days at Disneyland, his transition to Walt Disney Imagineering (still known as WED at the time), some of the classic attractions he helped to develop, and his new books, which are currently in development.

Be sure to follow Tom on Social Media.

Which of Tom's many projects is your favorite? Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Special thanks to our Hero Patreon members!

  • Thomas N

Enjoy the show!

Kilimanjaro Safaris (Walt’s Dream at Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

Kilimanjaro Safaris (Walt’s Dream at Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

March 20, 2021

Kilimanjaro Safaris opened at Walt Disney World on Earth Day 1998 (after a soft opening that spring). As the signature attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris is Walt Disney's dream come to life. As a lover of animals and nature, Walt originally intended for Disneyland's Jungle Cruise to feature live animals, but it just wasn't possible at the time. Kilimanjaro Safaris might have been Walt's favorite attraction. With about three dozen unique species of African animals who are free to roam within a handful of ecosystems, authentic safari trucks that have been converted into eco-friendly vehicles, a rich storyline that continues into Harambe Village, live Cast Member narratives, conservation messages, cultural motifs, and a land size greater than Magic Kingdom Park, Kilimanjaro Safaris might just be the most impressive attraction at any Disney Park.

As a former Cast Member on this attraction, I know Kilimanjaro Safaris better than any other and am incredibly excited to share this knowledge with you. In today's episode, we'll explore the history of this attraction, including its rich backstory (along with Harambe Village's backstory), history, detail, safety considerations, and fun facts. We'll also discuss its ties to Walt Disney, and I'll take you with me for a binaural audio ride-through of the attraction (recorded in 2019).

What do you love most about Kilimanjaro Safaris? Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Thanks to Share a Dream Come True YouTube channel for letting us borrow the audio from their Kilimanjaro Safaris video (be sure to watch the full video to see the original storyline).

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Special thanks to our Hero Patreon members!

  • Crystal W
  • Thomas N

Enjoy the show!

Best Disney Scents (Smells at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line)

Best Disney Scents (Smells at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line)

March 6, 2021

The smells at the Disney Parks and Resorts make for some of the most emotional memories on a Disney Vacation. Whether we're visiting Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, or any other Disney destination, what we smell is not only memorable but also completely intentional. Whether it's the savory smell of popcorn walking down Main Street USA, the soothing smell of lavender in a Disney Resort lobby, the musty smell of dust at the Haunted Mansion, or the sweet smell of pie at Mickey's Philharmagic, Disney knows that our olfactory senses are our strongest. The scents at Disney are meant to immerse us into a new world and evoke specific emotions, which is why Disney spends a great deal of time matching the right scent to each part of an attraction, store, restaurant, hotel, or land. It's also why most Disney fans recall these smells so fondly, even those that are sometimes unintentional.

In today's episode we'll explore our favorite smells at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line. We'll also discuss the reasons we picked each smell and why we feel that the power of scent makes for some of our most emotional Disney memories.

Joining me on today's podcast are Philander (you can follow him on Instagram @philanderc85) and a new guest, Lisa DiNoto-Glassner. Lisa is not only the mastermind behind The Castle Run (follow her on Instagram @thecastlerunner) but also the genius who brought us Core Memory Candles. Friends, if you're missing the smells at Disney, please be sure to give Core Memory Candles a try. As a lifelong Disney fan, I have never been this impressed with Disney-inspired candles (yes, that includes those big name companies you're thinking of right now). I light a Core Memory Candle just about every single day and will continue to endorse Lisa's candles at no cost to her. I am a huge fan! You can see how much I love these candles in one of my YouTube videos. The Grand, Ocean Flight, Fall of Rome, Castillo Del Morro and Riviera are just a few of my favorites. Try and I promise you won't be disappointed!

To turn the conversation over to you, which smells at Disney do you love the most? Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Special thanks to our Hero Patreon members!

  • Crystal W
  • Thomas N

Enjoy the show!

Splash Mountain (Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland)

Splash Mountain (Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland)

February 20, 2021

Splash Mountain, which first opened at Disneyland Park in 1989, then at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland in 1992, has been an iconic part of the Magic Kingdom mountain range for decades. Conceived by Disney Legend Tony Baxter, Splash Mountain takes guests into the colorful animated world of Song of the South, featuring characters like Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Brer Fox, and including songs like "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" and "Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place". With about 10 minutes of ride time and thrilling log flume ride sequences, it's easy to see why Splash Mountain has been a Disney fan favorite for over 30 years.

In today's episode we'll explore the history of Splash Mountain, including Michael Eisner's influence in bringing this project to life. We'll also discuss some of the details of the attraction you might not have known before, and I'll take you with me for a binaural audio ride-through of the attraction (recorded in 2019). We'll also talk about the future of Splash Mountain with Disney's plans to reimagine the attraction into an experience themed around the Disney animated film, The Princess and the Frog, as well as my personal opinions about this change.

Whether you frequent Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, or all of the above, what do you love most about Splash Mountain? Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Special thanks to our Hero Patreon members!

  • Crystal W
  • Thomas N

Enjoy the show!

Imagineering Pandora – The World of Avatar (Part 2)

Imagineering Pandora – The World of Avatar (Part 2)

February 6, 2021

Pandora – The World of Avatar raised the bar for immersive themed lands when it opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 2017. Between Avatar Flight of Passage, Na'vi River Journey, Satu'li Canteen, Pongu Pongu, and of course the land itself, travelers visiting the Valley of Mo'ara (courtesy of Alpha Centauri Expeditions, per the story) are transported to an alien world that feels all too real. That's thanks to the countless Imagineers who put years of work into creating the land's attractions. While many think of Imagineer Joe Rohde or even Director James Cameron while exploring the land (virtually or in person), there are countless others who contributed to the land's design, including my two special guests on today's episode: Adam and Rebecca.

Adam, a former Set Decorator for Walt Disney Imagineering, and Rebecca, a former Scenic Artist working for a contractor, helped to literally set the stage for Pandora – The World of Avatar. From hand-weaving artwork at Satu'li Canteen to setting in place the tiniest details in the Flight of Passage queue, Adam and Rebecca helped bring the story of Pandora into the real world. In this two-part episode, we'll discuss how to land a job at Walt Disney Imagineering, reveal what the day-to-day is like for most Imagineers and contractors working on a project, and of course share the stories that contributed to the many details around the land itself. I'd like to extend a huge thank you to both Adam and Rebecca for lending their time and stories to this two-part episode!

For part 2, I'd love to know which detail you found most interesting or inspiring from our discussion. Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Special thanks to our Hero Patreon members!

  • Crystal W
  • Thomas N

Enjoy the show!

Imagineering Pandora – The World of Avatar (Part 1)

Imagineering Pandora – The World of Avatar (Part 1)

January 30, 2021

Pandora – The World of Avatar raised the bar for immersive themed lands when it opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 2017. Between Avatar Flight of Passage, Na'vi River Journey, Satu'li Canteen, Pongu Pongu, and of course the land itself, travelers visiting the Valley of Mo'ara (courtesy of Alpha Centauri Expeditions, per the story) are transported to an alien world that feels all too real. That's thanks to the countless Imagineers who put years of work into creating the land's attractions. While many think of Imagineer Joe Rohde or even Director James Cameron while exploring the land (virtually or in person), there are countless others who contributed to the land's design, including my two special guests on today's episode: Adam and Rebecca.

Adam, a former Set Decorator for Walt Disney Imagineering, and Rebecca, a former Scenic Artist working for a contractor, helped to literally set the stage for Pandora – The World of Avatar. From hand-weaving artwork at Satu'li Canteen to setting in place the tiniest details in the Flight of Passage queue, Adam and Rebecca helped bring the story of Pandora into the real world. In this two-part episode, we'll discuss how to land a job at Walt Disney Imagineering, reveal what the day-to-day is like for most Imagineers and contractors working on a project, and of course share the stories that contributed to the many details around the land itself. I'd like to extend a huge thank you to both Adam and Rebecca for lending their time and stories to this two-part episode!

For part 1, I'd love to know what you enjoyed most from this conversation. Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Enjoy the show!

Mary Blair (Interview with Niece, Maggie Richardson)

Mary Blair (Interview with Niece, Maggie Richardson)

January 16, 2021

Mary Blair is an iconic Walt Disney Imagineer and Disney Animator, a prolific artist, and a celebrated fashionista. Starting at Disney in 1940, Mary worked on iconic films like Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland. She also created the unique look of "it's a small world" for the 1964 World's Fair in New York (later moved to Disneyland) and designed the Grand Canyon Concourse mural at Disney's Contemporary Resort among many other pieces of fine art. Famous for her blending of unique color combinations, Mary's modern style redefined Disney's artistic approach, influenced fashion, and impacted pop culture. A force to be reckoned with, Mary is certainly a legend in the world of Disney.

Since Mary has unfortunately passed, in this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with Mary's niece, Maggie, about her aunt's life and career. Be sure to check out Maggie's website dedicated to Mary Blair's life, https://magicofmaryblair.com.

Which of Mary's many pieces is your favorite? Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Enjoy the show!

Best Meals at Walt Disney World with Lou Mongello

Best Meals at Walt Disney World with Lou Mongello

January 2, 2021

Lou Mongello has set the gold standard for Disney podcasts. He is not only a podcast host but also an author, entrepreneur, speaker, and lifelong Disney fan. His wildly popular show, WDW Radio, is not only well-known in the Disney community but has also been named the Best Travel Podcast for 9 consecutive years. Lou’s audio tours, Walt Disney World Trivia Book, 102 Ways to Save Money for and at Walt Disney World Book, and his newest book, “The Disney Interviews Volume 1”, will delight and educate any Disney fan, whether you’re new to the Disney community or a lifelong fanatic. His mentorship and consulting opportunities through LouMongello.com, including his Momentum Weekend Workshop and Retreat in Walt Disney World, will help anybody turn what you love into what you do. Perhaps most moving of all, Lou’s Dream Team Project, has helped to raise more than $350,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. Lou’s mantra to “Choose the Good” is one that he seems to exemplify through his own work.

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with Lou about his podcast and his new book. We then spend most of the episode talking about something we both love: food at Walt Disney World. In particular, we count down our top 10 favorite meals at Walt Disney World, including options you can find at Disney Springs, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and a few Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

Be sure to follow Lou on Social Media, download his podcast, and check out his new book:

What's your favorite meal at Walt Disney World? Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Enjoy the show!

Brian Collins (Walt Disney Imagineer, Show Writer)

Brian Collins (Walt Disney Imagineer, Show Writer)

December 26, 2020

"As a former Walt Disney Imagineer, Brian helped create the magic for some of the world’s most beloved  attractions. At other times in his career, he has produced work for a who’s-who list of corporations, as well as small entrepreneurial ventures. A passionate educator, Brian has served on the faculty of several schools. His deep understanding of new and emerging technologies and, most importantly, how they apply to business, has  helped fuel his unique career. Given that, a “normal” day for Brian might include exploring augmented reality,  synthetic environments, blockchain, or some other exotic “sci-fi” tech that’s out there…or on the way.  

Now, as a sought-after Innovation Consultant through his practice known as The Brainstorm Institute, he  combines his design-thinking skills with a strategic business acumen. In addition, Brian formed  WDWithMe.com to further leverage his background as a Disney Imagineer and writes a monthly column for  WDW Magazine. An accomplished speaker, Brian is often interviewed on podcasts and asked to deliver  keynote addresses, lectures and workshops or other corporate presentations.  

Brian earned his Master’s degree in Marketing from Webster University where he was a Distinguished  Graduate. His Bachelor’s degree was awarded by Texas Tech University. He is also an officer in the United States Air Force Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol), active in his synagogue, and has served on the Boards of Directors for the Central Florida STEM Education Council, Forward Thinking Initiatives and the Central Florida Children’s Safety Village."

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with Brian about his career at Walt Disney Imagineering and asking him questions from Imagineer Podcast listeners.

Be sure to connect with Brian online:

What other questions would you like to ask a Disney Imagineer? Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

 

Enjoy the show!

Never Been Answered Questions (Volume 1): Star Wars and Marvel

Never Been Answered Questions (Volume 1): Star Wars and Marvel

December 12, 2020

In this round table episode, we'll answer some clever and challenging questions that merge the Star Wars and Marvel universes. For example, we'll kick things off by asking if a lightsaber could cut through Captain America's shield. With about a dozen questions to answer, we'll put our Star Wars and Marvel knowledge to the test, and I have the perfect group of friends to help me answer them all.

How would you answer the questions we presented in this episode? What other challenging questions would you add to this list? Send me your feedback via email or through direct or public message at any of the following and [with your permission] I'll include your message in a future show:

Be sure to check out our sponsor WDW Magazine, the premier magazine focused on Walt Disney World, available in print or digital.

Disney news and travel tips: Be sure to visit our Disney news partner, The Kingdom Insider:

Vacation Planning: Planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, or another Disney destination? Visit our trusted partner, Academy Travel: 

How to Support the Show

Enjoy the show!

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