The Hyperion Theatre played host to a panel
of executives, producers, and designers that developed Disney's
California Adventure. A special ticketed event, guests were treated to
the thoughts and concepts behind the new park. Marty Sklar was the host.
The Panel Members
Titles, credits courtesy Preview Panel Guide ©
Vice Chairman & Principal Creative Executive
at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Opening thoughts: Daunting to
develop the first major Southern California Disney park since
Disneyland. Respectful, Compliment but not compete with Disneyland.
Disneyland is the only place Walt Disney walked in. Hong Kong, in 2005,
will be the 11th Disney park.
Senior Vice President, Executive Producer at Walt
Leader of the design team for Disney's California Adventure
Q: First impressions of
A: Started as elementary school
teacher in the 70s in California. Remember coming to the park to listen
to jazz. Hired as research analyst for EPCOT in '77. Teaching is all
about motivating and communicating with people, a little like being an
Senior Vice President and General Manager,
California at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Responsible for the development of California-based projects.
Q: How does this large
project compare to building other large projects in urban environments
around the world?
A: Think of this place
as a city for 100,000, with much of it being created all at once. Most
are generally only about themselves, housing of people, place to work,
how you get from one place to next. Not about telling of a place.
Not the complexity of each element has to fit perfectly into and next to
and work together for it to be seamless and compelling. I had never
worked in that kind of complete environment.
Q: As project director
how was it working with the city, etc.?
A: We didn't start
with a blank sheet of paper. Not a great big green field, but all kinds
of existing conditions. The "Thou shalt not" project because
of all that you couldn't do. DL had staked out ground, convention center
can't be moved, etc. Power lines are already there. Helping to give the
officials to turn them into supporters of the project.
Executive Designer, Vice President at Walt Disney
Designer and Producer of several new attractions at the Disneyland
Q: Your signature is all over
this park. Change of name to Paradise Pier Hotel, etc. How did you
handle all that?
A: I don't know. I
have an enthusiasm for it. Let's make a 3D Picture Postcard of
California. How do you make that? The harder it is the more
interesting it is to do.
Principal Concept Architect, Director at Walt
Principal concept architect for the Golden State District - Condor
Flats, Grizzly Peak Recreation Area, Pacific Wharf, the Golden Vine
Winery, Bountiful Valley Farm, and the Bay Area.
Q: You build it and then you
have to distress it.
A: I was okay with it but the
architects... you really have to share with the workers what the story
is that you want to make it look like it's 80 years old. Once they got
that they really took ownership of it and went with it.
Concept Landscape Architect / Director, Creative
Development at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Leading the design and management of the area development, landscape,
and irrigation efforts for Disney's California Adventure
Q: You've done some great
projects. Splash Mountain, Toontown
in Tokyo. A woman in that field -- we usually don't think of women in
that field. How does a woman approach it when almost everyone in the
field is a man?
A: I wanted to work in a man's
world because it's so simple, I thought. But I soon found out it
wasn't. Working in Tokyo was not like working in Paris. ... I was
always trying on new hats. In Japan, the women there, all of our
interpreters, and mine is particularly low, but talking to men the
voices go up really high. So you brush up all your politeness and you do
the best you can, and it all starts with relationships. That's half the
battle. The women translators were always cheering me on. It's great
when you can win them over.
Show Producer Senior - Director at Walt Disney
Overal Show Producer for Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney's
Q: The Hollywood Pictures
Backlot is a rather irreverent approach to it. the Schmoozies, the Award
Wieners, is that how you look at Hollywood?
A: I don't know Marty, we gave
you a whole list of names and those are the ones you approved.
Overall DCA has a slanting toward the pop culture and a little of a
tongue in cheek, not take it too seriously. Hollywood and Dine; and
Disney Animation it's reverent. But we wanted to explore the attitude.
We're considered a little over the edge by others, so our approach as
far as the layout was to position it on a backlot as a way to
acknowledge the industry. worked with movie production designers to lay
out our design. The entrance is where it hangs seamlessly.
Lead show producer for Condor Flats, Soarin' over
California, and Mission Tortilla Factory.
Q: Condor flats: your
A: It had its challenges. we
wanted to celebrate the diversity of the land over California. So
what better way to get a bird's eye view. We needed a projection,
ride system and new film format. How do we get 87 people up into this
inverted dome in a seamless fun way to fly over the state? How do we
develop a projection system that provides most pristine system? A
48-frame per second system. Twice as fast as regular film. How to
project over a dome and not a flat screen? Simulated flight experience
and knew we had a hit on our hands.
Art Director, Show Producer at Walt Disney
Show Producer and Art Director of the Animation attraction.
Q: Had the most difficult job
here because we dumped her into a problem a year out before opening, and
we said fix this. Animation, the heart of Disney. Tell us about the
attitude of the animators, working with animation, the pressure dealing
with the lifeblood of Disney.
A: It's really challenging to
find a way to present feature animation in a special great way to do
justice to the work done over the years. the incredible artwork and the
artists. was very challenging. We feel very proud that those who has
come in and participated in the many phases of design have been very
happy and pleased with the final outcome. Nothing but comments from
them. Favorite part is the courtyard entry to our area, with pieces of
animation from many films. that's really touching, emotional the way you
feel about some of the film. and then the interactive areas I really
Q: Like Ursula's garden?
A: You get to put your voice
into a character. That's my favorite in the interactive parts.
Other coverage on
covers the panel discussion in further depth
Vincent Phoenix writes about the merchandise available
Lani Teshima and Alex
Stroup cover the scavenger hunt