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Sue Kruse
California Adventure Merchandise Event Panel Discussion
Dear Readers, whenever I attend one of Disneyland Resort’s Merchandising Events, I may not always have the best of times, but I always come away from the event with at least the enjoyment of some aspect of he evening. Usually, that enjoyment is derived from the panel discussion. The latest effort at combining collectible merchandise with entertainment, "A Fun New State of Disney Magic", was held in Disney’s new theme park, Disney’s California Adventure on the evening of January 19th. This time, I can honestly say I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. And, as usual, the panel discussion was one of the evening’s highlights.

The theater
The event was held at the Hyperion Theater

So, read on Dear Readers and you will learn of Skirts, The Swiss Watch Design, and The Big Wow….

It began with Doina, of the 2001 Disneyland Resort Ambassadors, taking the stage of the Hyperion Theater. She introduced herself and welcomed those of us in the audience whom she referred to as "some of the most treasured and most loyal guests" to A Fun New State of Disney Magic, the theme for the evening. Doina noted that some 46 years ago Disneyland Park opened to the world and since then, Southern California and a lot of people have never been the same. Expressing the thought that for the folks at the resort, it is the most exciting time since July 17th 1955, she continued to note that with the opening of California Adventure, the park where all the magic began has gone from a one day destination to a multi-day destination and a world class resort that also includes a dining, entertainment and shopping district and, as she put it, "a brand new four star gorgeous hotel."

After a few more minutes of chit chat, Doina got down to the heart of the matter with her introductions of the evening’s distinguished panel of experts from Walt Disney Imagineering who came together to make the dream of Disney’s California Adventure a reality.

Lori Coltrin

Lori Coltrin
Art Director, Show Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering
Show Producer and Art Director of the Animation attraction

First up was Lori Coltrin. Before she came to the DCA project, Lori worked on Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom as the Production Manager for the Conservation Station and was the Art Director and Production Manager for The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh attraction at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Lori now works as the Show Producer and Art Director for the Animation attraction in the Hollywood section of Disney’s California Adventure.

Alec Scribner

Alex Scribner
Lead show producer for Condor Flats, Soarin' over California, and Mission Tortilla Factory

The next to be introduced was Alec Scribner. Alec served as Show Designer for Disney-MGM Studios and Mickey’s Toontown Fair, both at Walt Disney World before coming to the West Coast to act as Show Producer for DCA. In the case of California Adventure, he was in charge of overseeing the creative process of projects from concept through to installation. At present, he is Lead Show Producer for three of the projects within the Golden State portion of California Adventure, Condor Flats, Soarin’ Over California (the hang gliding attraction found within Condor Flats), and the Mission Tortilla Factory in the Pacific Warf area.

Cory Sewelson

Cory Sewelson
Show Producer Senior - Director at Walt Disney Imagineering
Overal Show Producer for Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney's California Adventure

Cory Sewelson was next. Cory worked for Walt Disney Imagineering on a variety of projects that range from the Living Seas at EPCOT to Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to Tokyo Disneyland’s Toontown. For California Adventure, Corey served as Senior Show Producer for the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section of the park. Having grown up in Hollywood, the DCA assignment was almost a homecoming. His job entailed creating the "movie set" Hollywood with façades inspired by many famous Los Angeles landmarks.

Becky Bishop

Becky Bishop
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

With every project there comes landscaping. For California Adventure, Walt Disney Imagineering’s Becky Bishop served as the Concept Landscape Architect Director, Creative Development. Becky joined WDI as an intern during the summers of 1980 and 1981 and worked on such projects as EPCOT’s Journey Into Imagination and Disneyland Tokyo. At DCA, Becky’s responsibilities included leading the design and management of area development, landscape, and irrigation.

Coulter Winn

Coulter Winn
Principal Concept Architect, Director at Walt Disney Imagineering.
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

I’m sure, Dear Readers, you have all heard of Tower of Terror, I know it is one of my favorite rides. The next panelist, Coulter Winn, worked on that project as Concept Architect. Employed as the Principal Concept Architect for the Golden State portion of DCA, Coulter lead a design team through all phases of development of Condor Flats, Grizzly Peak Recreation Area, Pacific Warf, the Golden Vine Winery, Bountiful Valley Farm, and the Bay Area.

Tim Delaney

Tim Delaney
Executive Designer, Vice President at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Designer and Producer of several new attractions at the Disneyland Resort.

The Executive Designer Vice President at Walt Disney Imagineering, Tim Delaney, joined the company in 1976 working as a designer for Tomorrowland’s Starcade at Disneyland Park. In 1989, he was promoted from Show Producer to Executive Designer for Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris. Tim is responsible for the entry of DCA as well as the Paradise Pier section of the park.

Timur Galen

Timur Galen
Senior Vice President and General Manager, California at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Responsible for the development of California-based projects.

One of the two top men on the DCA project was introduced next, Timur Galen. He currently holds the title of Senior Vice President and General Manager at Walt Disney Imagineering. Timur oversees the development of new California based projects including DCA, the Grand Californian, and Downtown Disney. His recently completed efforts are the renovation of Anaheim Stadium and the new Tomorrowland at Disneyland.

Barry Braverman

Barry Braverman
Senior Vice President, Executive Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Leader of the design team for Disney's California Adventure

I very much enjoyed listening to the next participant’s stories about his involvement in the creation of DCA, Barry Braverman, Senior Vice President, Executive Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering. His genuine enthusiasm for the project came through as he discussed the various aspects of it. Barry was the person responsible for leading the entire design team in the development of DCA. He also had a key role with the Disneyland Resort Development Team. Before his DCA assignment Barry was Executive Director of the EPCOT Design Studio.

Marty Sklar

Marty Sklar
Vice Chairman & Principal Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Acting as our host for the evening’s discussion and as panel moderator was Vice President and Principal Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, Marty Sklar. Marty has been with the Disney Company since one month before Disneyland opened in 1955 and has led the Creative Development branch of WDI since 1974. He was active in the creation of EPCOT and helped establish the Ryman Program for Young Artists, a project of the Ryman-Carroll Foundation. Marty’s job as Vice President of WDI keeps him busy with the creative development of ongoing projects such as Tokyo DisneySea, the Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

With the introductions over, Doina bid the audience good-bye and Marty Sklar took over the reins. He remarked that the panelists all had war stories to tell, "It’s pretty daunting to develop the first major project in Southern California since the original Disneyland. All of us were very respectful about the fact that we had to compliment Disneyland, not compete with it. Also, you think back and say Disneyland is the only park that Walt Disney ever personally walked in despite the fact that when Hong Kong Disneyland opens in 2005, it will actually be the eleventh Disney Park around the world. We’ve done a few things since 1955. I can say for all of us that this was a daunting project from the standpoint of remembering and respecting what is next door. Marty then drew laughter from the audience by stating, "I’ve prepared some very short questions to embarrass them."

Starting with Barry Braverman who had the responsibility for developing the creative ideas and stories for the park, Marty commented that Barry attended High School in Southern California, Foothill High in Orange County. He then posed the question, "Tell us about your first visit to Disneyland and how did your teaching background prepare you for this?"

Barry responded, "Okay... but first I have to make a minor correction. I went to Tustin High School, not Foothill High School. Go Tillers!" He then went on to reminisce about a part of Disneyland’s history that is dear to me as well. Barry’s fondest memories of Disneyland were of the time in the 60’s that Disneyland used to hold Big Band Night. He remembered coming to see some of the jazz greats like Count Basie and his orchestra play their hot jazz on a warm summer evening at Disneyland.

He talked a little about his time spent as a counter culture style elementary school teacher in the early 70’s which led him to seek out Marty Sklar and inquire if Disney was doing anything in education. "We’re doing this theme park in Florida called EPCOT. You might be interested in that," was Marty’s answer.

"And that’s how I got hooked on to this Imagineering thing and have been doing it for 22 years," Braverman stated.

The next question was posed to Timur Galen who was asked how the DCA project compared to building in other urban environments around the world.

He described the complexities of designing a "city of 100,000" that would seamlessly integrate with what was around it. Not having a blank page to start with and the task of dealing with existing problems such as moving power poles and building limits like the inability to move the Anaheim Convention Center gave the project the name, The Thou Shalt Not project because of all the things they couldn’t do. "We tried," came the remark from one of the other panelists when Timur mentioned moving the Convention Center, "Yeah, we though about that for a while, " Timur joked.

After the team made a list of all the things they couldn’t do, they had to turn that list into one of things they could do. "As a result, I think we have something that’s really very different but equally spectacular to some of the things we’ve done in the past."

"We usually don’t think of women doing that," Marty stated when pointing out that Becky Bishop also worked on projects in Tokyo. Why don’t you talk about how a woman approaches a job when almost everybody is a man."

"Well, I went into this, profession because I didn’t want to work with women," she leaned over to fellow panelist Lori Coltrin, "no offense Lori. But I thought, I want to work in a man’s world because it’s so simple. I thought"

This statement drew quite a lot of laughter from the crowd. It also caused both Cory Sewelson and Alec Scribner, who were to Becky’s left, to pick up their chairs and move away from Becky, an action to which the crowd responded with huge applause and more laughter.

"I soon found out it wasn’t." Cory and Alec moved their chairs back over near Becky. She went on to describe the differences of working in Paris and Tokyo and how she had to constantly adjust and try new approaches to establish good working relationships.

Expressing the thought that the Hollywood represented in DCA is an irreverent interpretation of the real Hollywood with things like Super Star Limo, Smoozies, and Award Wieners, Marty Sklar posed the question to Cory Sewelson, "Is that how you look at Hollywood? Why did you choose that way to interpret our business?"

"I don’t know Marty, we gave you a whole list of names, those are the ones you approved." After the laughter died down, Cory got a little more serious and explained that the approach to the Hollywood section of DCA was slanted toward pop culture and tongue in cheek. This gave the Imagineers the opportunity to have a little fun with the way they designed Hollywood. He added that there is a nice mix of genuine and almost reverent. The restaurant Hollywood and Dine, for example, is an exploration of the real Hollywood past. On the street it’s another story, though. "A lot of Californians are viewed as a little over the edge by the rest of the country and I think we just wanted to acknowledge that and have a little fun with that."

"Tell us about that first look down the street with this theater in the background and what you tried to do."

It was terribly interesting to hear the thought process behind the look of Hollywood Boulevard. When you look into this section of DCA you see at the far end a background of blue sky and clouds framing the entrance to the Hyperion Theater. It’s a very definite Hollywood set look. Cory explained, "Our approach to Hollywood overall, as far as the layout, was to position it or put it on a Hollywood back lot as a way to sort of acknowledge the industry and then put Hollywood Boulevard on it as a movie set. We actually worked with movie production designers rather than traditional architects in laying out our street design. So, the camera position if you consider Hollywood Boulevard as a set, would go where our entrance gate is. That’s where everything sort of hangs together seamlessly. We actually painted a sky wall on the back end of this theater to complete the look. As you walk deeper into the street, you see that it’s an illusion, one of the tricks used in movie making.

Soarin’ Over California is perhaps the most spectacular attraction in Disney’s California Adventure. In approaching the subject of Condor Flats Marty Sklar noted, "We look out there today and there’s a rope at the entrance and half the people that are here are in that line immediately to go on Soarin’. Tell us about how Soarin’ came about."

"We knew that we wanted to celebrate the diversity of the landscape in California. What better way to do that than to actually fly over and get that bird’s eye view?" Lead Show Producer Alec Scribner went on to explain that WDI developed a projection system that allowed them to do that. They then had to work on a new ride system and a new film format. "Those were the three big challenges that we had. The biggest one was really the ride." He explained the difficulties of getting 87 people up into an inverted dome in a seamless fun way and allow them to fly over the state. To provide a clear picture to complete the illusion, a system using 48 frames per second, or twice the speed of regular motion picture film, was used. The last piece of the puzzle was to find a way to shoot the film to project back into a dome versus a flat screen.

How was all this achieved, you may ask? Testing, lots and lots of testing. At Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, California, they mocked up a 30-foot dome in one of their simulators so they could simulate what the flight experience would be. "We knew at that time right there that we had a hit on our hands. From then on, the excitement continued to grow to the point where what we considered as one of our riskier attractions at the outset, ended up being hopefully, a success story." The applause from the audience made it clear that Alec’s Soarin’ project is indeed a success. As Marty Sklar added, "And total invention."

"I think, because I know the background, that Lori had the most difficult job here because we dumped her into a problem about a year from opening and said, ‘Fix this, save it.’ Here she is in animation, the heart of Disney. Tell us about the attitude of the animators to what you’ve done and working with animation and the pressure you felt dealing with the lifeblood of Disney in so many ways," Marty addressed Lori Coltrin, Art Director if the Animation attraction.

"That’s a good question. It’s really challenging to find a way to present feature animation to the world in a special way so that…"

At that point the speaker was interrupted by a chink, chink, chink sound coming through the microphone. Lori looked a bit puzzled. A technician came from backstage to give Ms. Coltrin a hand microphone and Marty Sklar quipped, "I hope it’s not the ghost of my boss of many years ago saying, ‘What took you so long?’"

The audience laughed and Lori tried to get back to the subject, "It was a great challenge to do justice to the artwork that they’ve created over the years. Feature Animation is the core, the beauty, the storytelling and the incredible artists who have created the films over the years. To do justice to their work was very challenging. We feel very proud that people from Feature Animation that have come in and participated in many phases of the design have come back and been very happy and very pleased with the final outcome. That’s quite a nice compliment for us."

Marty asked a question I know I was curious about, "So tell us what your favorite part of it is so everyone can go there immediately."

"There’s two favorite parts. One is our courtyard lobby, which is the entry lobby to our building, which is a fabulous look at images and backgrounds and pieces of animation from many films. It’s really overwhelmingly immersive with the beautiful music. It’s really touching. It’s emotional the way you feel about some films and the music that accompanies them and it’s just beautiful artwork."

I do have to depart from the tale here a moment, Dear Readers to say that I absolutely agree with Ms. Coltrin’s description of the lobby of the Animation building. It’s stunning and it truly does feel like you are wrapped up in the film projected on the walls all around you. If it’s one of your favorite films, the emotional aspects are inescapable. It’s quite an experience to be in that room.

Lori continued with the description of her other favorite aspect of the Animation building, "There’s an area called Ursula’s Grotto where you get to put your voice into a Disney character’s voice and record your voice singing or acting and it plays back showing the character with your voice. It’s really fun."

"Tim Delaney," Marty Sklar addressed the Executive Designer to his left, "I happen to know the first time that you were at Disneyland because you’ve shown me the picture as a six year old in 1955 in that Carnation Milk Wagon. It’s a really nostalgic picture."

"Yeah, it wasn’t me though, it was special effects," Delaney joked, "No... but it was me."

"Your signature is all over this park, the main entrance complex, Paradise Pier, the change of the hotel to Paradise Pier Hotel and many other things. Now Tim," Marty continued, "I happen to know that you like to design everything yourself. How did you handle all that, Tim?"

Tim Delaney chuckled as he quipped, "I never sleep."

"I forgot (to mention you designed) the sun icon," Marty added.

"I don’t do it all myself, I just have a real enthusiasm for doing it."

Tim went on to discuss the challenges of designing the entrance to Disney’s California Adventure. Whatever he came up with had to not only be a compliment to Disneyland, but a contrast as well. Since there is no book to consult, the process involves mostly trial and error. "Knowing that we wanted to contrast Disneyland, we basically said, ‘Let’s make a 3-D picture postcard of California and let everybody walk through it.’ That sounds like a good idea, but how do you actually accomplish that?" He noted that when things are really difficult, it makes the project more interesting to work on.

"It’s amazing how magical things can become." You wouldn’t expect that sentence to apply to the Monorail beam, would you Dear Readers? That, however, was exactly the subject Delaney addressed next. "Love the Monorail, just can’t stand the beam, you know? It just sits out there. When we decided to do this 3-D picture postcard, we had to do everything to hide that Monorail beam. It didn’t really work. Our images of California just kind of stopped you. We actually wanted people to come into the park. I was working with a paper sculptor and we took these images and we decided this isn’t working. Let’s just blow it all open. Let’s just open the park up. Then we sat around and said, ‘Gee, what kind of gateway could we possibly use for Disney’s California Adventure?’" He paused a moment, "Within five minutes, Boom! There’s the Golden Gate Bridge. And so from that we grew from the California letters all the way through our images on the walls all the way up to the sun icon. It leads you into the park. It works.

Turning to the subject of Paradise Pier Delaney reminisced, "Growing up here I had a very fond affection for the seaside amusement parks. It’s unfortunate that by the time I saw them in the fifties, they’d all deteriorated. Once we actually started our historical search, you realize what these seaside amusement parks really were. In their heyday, they were truly wonderful magical places with exotic architecture and great energy and we wanted to recreate that. I think you’ll see evidence of that when you see Paradise Pier."

Throughout the evening, Marty Sklar kept coming up with some great lines, that sent the audience into gales of laughter. After Delaney finished speaking about growing up in California and how that experience fed into the Paradise Pier project, Sklar turned to him and commented, "Now Tim, I grew up in Long Beach and the Pike never looked like that."

"Well it did at one time, Marty, but well, I won’t talk about age or anything," was Delaney’s quick-witted come back.

The topic for discussion then turned to the aging of the buildings in the Pacific Wharf area of DCA, "As an architect, you design buildings, but in the case of Pacific Wharf, it doesn’t look like anybody designed them, it just looks old. How do you feel…"

Coulter Winn replied, "I felt fine about it, but the carpenters really had a problem." He went on to describe in detail what he had to go through to get the point across to the folks who were building the thing, "We had all this wonderful wood and I said, ‘Okay... sand blast it.’ They’d sand blast it and I’d say, ‘Now, more sand blasting. You have to edge distress it. Get the draw knives out." He told how the carpenters thought he was taking perfectly good wood and completely ruining it, "You’re making it look like junk," they said. When the wharf was all finished, the carpenters thought they were done, but Coulter continued, "No, no... we’ve got about five layers of paint to do."

It took a while, but the carpenters finally understood, "By the time we were done, they go, ‘Oh, now we get it.’ After the first few walls they really got the sense of it. You really have to share with the workers what the story is, that you want the building to look as if it’s eighty years old. Once they understood that, they really got into it and took ownership of it.

Which led Marty Sklar to comment on the way Imagineering approaches the things they design, "Coulter makes a very good point, because everything we do starts with a story. What are we trying to convey to you, as our guest? There are so many ways to interpret a story. Some of it is visual, some of it is touch."

The next question was posed by Marty Sklar to each of the panelists. They were asked what they were most proud of on this project. He started with Barry Braverman, "For me, it’s the team. The product is wonderful, I love it, I’m proud of it. But, the day to day working relationship with the people that we get to work with…I walk around with my kids and I point to things, ‘I thought of that. I tried to change that, but they wouldn’t listen to me.’ There’s a story everywhere."

Timur Galen took Barry Braverman’s theme and expanded it, "The bricks and mortar are only about bringing people together. In the design and conception, in the people that built it, and then it’s really about you," he gestured to the audience, "the people that come to enjoy it. One of the most poignant moments for me, was that on the 9th of January…we had the opportunity to invite 8000 people who worked on the project to come with their husbands, or their wives, their children, their mothers, or their fathers, to come and enjoy the park on a test basis. To see the transition from ‘I built it’ to ‘I’m here enjoying it’. While you (in the audience) may go out and take pictures of Tim’s icon, posing your family in front of the sun icon, the men and women who had built the park were posing their families in front of a light pole, or a piece of rock work, or an element of carpentry. At the end of the day, these places are about the people that are a part of it."

For Tim Delaney, it was about the opportunity to create stories and ideas, and have a team follow from beginning to end. "Nobody gets there by themselves. When you start from sketches and you build models and you go through the numerous layers of getting approval, and then the day when you see three hundred guys up there building. Everyone’s believing in it and suddenly, it starts working. It’s not one thing, it’s many things to be proud of."

Coulter Winn noted that it was definitely a team effort, with 26 architects involved in the project. "I think the thing I’m really proudest of for Golden State is, there are six districts. Hollywood’s a place, do Hollywood. Paradise Pier is a place, do an ocean thing. But Golden State….Golden State is like, there was nothing there and we had to tell a story about the whole state with the remainder. That was a daunting task. We had to distill down various districts. I think I’m most proud of the fact that working with Becky (Bishop) and her team we created a lot of seamless environments. You have the farm to the wharf and you’ve got Napa to San Francisco and Eureka and it all works well together."

Becky Bishop started off asking how much time she had, because there were several things she was proud of. "On a personal note, there are a few areas where I kind of look and say, ‘Oh I remember that one. I really had to battle to get that.’ I love what we do. I love setting the environment and I love getting the feedback from the guests. If you walk in Paradise Pier and you hear the wood sound on your feet, that’s me, that’s us. If you walk over to Grizzly Mountain and you’re standing getting your FastPass and you see this giant tree that looks like it was in the parking lot before we built the building, that’s us. My favorite, favorite of all is Alec Scribner’s entry to Condor Flats where we have a dozen palm trees. You know, no big deal to have a palm tree. But, the nursery industry to get a palm tree brought out with its skirt on, or its fronds, is unheard of. Our staff was saying, ‘Don’t you want to trim those things? They look a little shabby.’ No, no…it looks just like the desert. So, go out and look at Condor Flats and the skirts in Condor Flats. That’s us!"

For Cory Sewelson the proudest thing is the thing that’s hardest to achieve. "For Hollywood Pictures Backlot, it was working with so many companies. There was Feature Animation, the Jim Henson Company, and ABC Television. To be able to develop attractions and shows that we wanted to see evolve and to be able to then also bring along our partners and have them also be proud of the completed work, I think that was a huge thing for me. It’s probably the most challenging part.

Alec Scribner concurred with his fellow Imagineers that the teamwork was most rewarding. "The passion that all of these individuals have been able to put into that work is truly rewarding." Another thing, "The Mission Tortilla Factory. Having grown up in Latin America allowed me to basically reintroduce myself into the Mexican, Hispanic culture. Doing that was a great joy for me."

"Probably the biggest moment for me," he added, "is really kind of the shortest moment. It’s the audible reaction we get in Soarin’ as the ride vehicles start to make their ascent up into the dome and you just hear people," he paused as he searched for the right adjective, "not gasp, but just kind of like that wow. And just hearing that, I’m really proud of that. Not just for myself of course, but for a multiple number of very gifted people."

"That’s referred to by many of us up here on the stage as The Big Wow," added Marty Sklar.

"I’m proud that the people at Feature Animation and the people I work with there are happy with the outcome and we did justice to such an incredible body of artwork," was Lori Coltrin’s thought. "I’m definitely proud that I was part of this team and I feel very fortunate that I was asked to come in, even though it’s kind of at the last part of it."

One of the most interesting topics discussed was how the Imagineers used virtual reality to come up with design concepts and make them work. Timur Galen talked about "our cave", "We used a four dimensional design tool which is essentially a wrap around screen environment, together with three dimensional glasses, and a joy stick and build a complete four dimensional model of Paradise Pier. When I say four dimensions, I mean in time as well so that over the course of several minutes, we could watch Paradise Pier get built. We experimented with different ways to sequence the building of Paradise Pier. It’s such a complex design. I call it The Swiss Watch Design. It was not a simple thing for builders to understand. So we used this extremely sophisticated tool really to help the construction community to understand how to build Tim’s design.

Tim Delaney described how the virtual reality tool, which is not just a computer screen, but a whole environment that one can step into, allowed the Imagineers to walk into the land before it was even built. They also could take a ride on the coaster, "We put music to it and we actually did a motion control base. It actually gives you a preview of what the ride’s all about."

"Early on when you would ride the coaster, well, there was that steel beam that you would go right through and the concrete wall that you collided with," Timur interjected.

"Yeah we know what it’s like to go through the structure now. I mean, literally go right through the structure," continued Delaney. "Right now, what we’re doing is some of our ride engineers who worked on there, now actually are doing a side by side comparison to show the accuracy of what the real ride looks like along with what the 4-D looks like. So, it’s actually validating the entire process. It’s proven to be a very helpful tool.

"It’s something we’ll take forward and use in a more comprehensive way on the next project," added Galen.

When I first heard Disney would be building a park based on the theme of California, it seemed a little redundant to me, Dear Readers. After all, why build a park about California in California? After visiting DCA though I no longer think it’s such a silly idea. It is a celebration of the glories of the entire state. Barry Braverman addressed the topic, "All of us were inspired by the diversity and the richness and the incredible stories in this state. And, almost everybody that worked on this project either grew up here or was born here or spent a lot of their life here. You know, like a lot of people when you live in a place for a while, you think you know it pretty well? The first thing we started was we said, ‘Pretend you don’t know anything about California. We need to see this sate with fresh eyes.’ We sent design teams out to travel around the state. We brought in experts. We talked to people. We went places. I think every person on this team came away from this project with an even deeper appreciation of the marvelous richness of this state. There is something remarkable about this place. The mountains and the desert and all the diversity of landscape and the cultures here and the energy. I think that part of what makes DCA exciting is that we somehow managed to capture some of the dynamism of this place. That’s something I’m also very proud of."

Alec Scribner then took up the topic of making tortillas, "We approached Mission Foods, who make 85% of the world’s tortillas. They have machines out in Rancho Cucamonga that are capable of producing 2000 tortillas a minute. So, we said too many tortillas. How do we slow that down? And they looked at us…kind of quizzically. They said, ‘Wait a minute. We’ve been trying to develop these machines to be more efficient and faster and you actually want us to slow them down?’ That’s right."

Scribner went on to describe the Mission Foods design team Disney worked with in Monterey, Mexico. He said their enthusiasm was fun. An entire building was set up to develop the slower tortilla-making machine. It was called Projecto Disney. They ended up developing machines that only produce 25 tortillas a minute which, as Alec put it, "Is a little more manageable. Even with that…we could give everybody tortillas here. All you have to do is walk in and we’ll give you a free tortilla."

"Coulter, what about the bread?" Marty Sklar asked.

"How interesting is it to bake bread?" Winn replied. "That’s what I thought when I first went into the project. And then, you start to learn all sorts of interesting bits of trivia. The same dough they use today was used back in the gold rush days but it’s sort of extended, as you will learn if you go to see the Boudin show. But their bakers and the way they bring such a passion and craft to their product is really inspiring. I learned just so much about the production of it, that you come away different. Every time I eat a loaf of bread now, it’s like okay, I know this."

Marty Sklar commented on the fact that one thing every one of the panelists talked about was how they came away from the project with new information about the state they thought they knew so well. He asked if anyone had been surprised by something they learned about California. Alec Scribner took up the subject of aviation, "The aviation story was far and above anything I ever expected. The fact that we flew here in California 20 years before the Wright Brothers, granted, not powered flight, but glider flight. The development of all of those aircrafts and all of those individuals that you’ll see in the queue to Soarin’. It takes your breath away to know that all of that aviation history happened here in California."

Marty Sklar commented that the tower left over from the airport that was on the Imagineering property in Glendale was the tower on the airport where Amelia Earhart took off for her flight around the world. "It’s part of the history and a photograph Alec put in the queue line in Soarin’."

"Okay, now here’s a really nasty question for everybody from Tim to Lori," began Sklar, "If you could convince the two leaders of this project, Timur and Barry, you’ve done the ice cream, you’ve got the whipped cream, now, you want to put a cherry on top." Timur Galen grabbed his wallet, "What would it be? Any of you."


"Come on... I know you all have lists," Barry Braverman admonished.

Tim Delaney declared, "Something to do with cars. I think we need to do some drag racing stuff. You know, something that really captures more car culture stuff."

"All right," Marty said.

Still there was silence.

"Any of you," he coaxed.

Then came my favorite answer of the evening, Dear Readers, from Coulter Winn, my new favorite Imagineer…

"Drop in Tower of Terror."

The applause was tumultuous.

As Becky Bishop stated when she said she wanted a water fountain, a really sexy one that’s got all kinds of great nozzles and stuff,

"Write in. That would be good."

Well Dear Readers - get your pens out, no? And that concluded the event, before we were let loose for the Scavenger Hunt. You can read more about the hunt via a report by Lani Teshima and Alex Stroup.



Panel Members Photo Page

The Fabulous Disney Babe also has coverage on the event

Adrienne Vincent Phoenix writes about the merchandise available

Lani Teshima and Alex Stroup cover the scavenger hunt

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