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Mermaids… In… SPACE…

So, you’re watching C-SPAN, getting a taste of the NASA Information Technology Summit, and naturally there’s a presentation by Walt Disney Imagineering about the new Fantasyland project in Florida.


Jack Blitch, Vice President and General Manager of Walt Disney Imagineering – Florida, made an appearance at the NASA conference to discuss the use of technology in planning new attractions. Not to be snarky, but I think the old WED model shop in the 60s and 70s could have probably figured out when there was a stray girder poking out of the structure, but I digress.

Blitch’s demo is actually a pretty interesting look at how WDI operates in the modern age; since most of what we know of Imagineering comes from Walt’s days, via his televised walkthroughs of their workshops, it’s interesting to see how computers have changed the process. Around 1:10:00, Blitch shows some of the models of the new Little Mermaid attraction in Fantasyland (including that elusive fifth dimension of space/time – money!) and there’s even a brief VR walkthrough of the queue and part of the attraction. It’s an amazing little peek at what we have in store for the future.

Note that Blitch only mentions Mermaid, the “Be Our Guest” restaurant, and the dueling Dumbos as part of the expansion. This is indicative of a number of changes underway with the expansion plans, which we’ll discuss soon. Also note the irony that this Summit is taking place in National Harbor, Maryland – the site of Disney’s announced but currently MIA resort project.

Not to go too avant garde here, but isn’t this the sort of thing that maybe we could stand to see a little more of? Heaven knows that instead of soft-selling us the gauzy-lensed propaganda videos featuring heaps of magic, dreams, wishes, and princesses, Disney could regularly give us a look at the real magic like this. It might appeal to some fans, don’t you think?

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10 comments to Mermaids… In… SPACE…

  • And yes, there are some factual errors, but that’s what they’re going to hire me to take care of.

  • I’m also not keen on WDI letting the contractors dictate what can and cannot be done. That’s the point when Walt would have Joe Potter fire them and find someone who could do it.

  • RO93461

    It looks like the “Carousel of Process”. Pretty amazing.

  • WC

    It is great to see a presentation like this for a change. So much of the development of projects seems to have been cloaked in mystery since Walt died. He loved to tell about it and it built excitement and interest. This shows the company can be open in providing interesting information without giving away secret information. I wonder how long they have let the contractors dictate what can be done? That may explain some of the disasters we’ve been subjected to which I will not nor need not name. Best of all, I finally got to see the Yeti work in one of the opening promos! Thanks.

  • RobC

    The sad part is that the aerospace industry has been using this modeling system since at least the 80’s. Really surprised they would “show-off” something like this to an audience that has been using it all their careers.

  • philphoggs

    He should have said well its not exactly rocket science. Finally got to watch the whole thing and it’s pretty impressive, I like most of the talk and a good window. It’s good to see the enthusiasm, and a hands on attitude.
    Save my venting of the new Toy Story playland for a more appropriate time.

  • “Carousel of Process” hehehe…

    I did think it was interesting that this was a presentation to aerospace engineers and the like, because as Rob says I wonder how innovative this is to them. And while it is impressive, a lot of the initial “gee whiz” effect could be conveyed just as well with a model (as well as telling if giant girders were sticking out of the ride!).

    Maybe our resident Imagineers would shed some light on how these technologies have really affected the design process. Are they that useful, or just time/costsavers?

  • Also, I have to apologize to everyone for being AWOL lately. I’ve been working on some projects that have soaked up all of my blogging time, and have been laying the groundwork for some new endeavors. I think everyone will be super pleased with the outcome, but there’s no excuse for shunning! Hopefully we’ll be publishing regularly again very soon.

  • […] here Progress City USA provides some video proof that along with the Little Mermaid ride, the Beauty and the Beast Be Our Guest table-service […]

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