If you call yourself a true Disney fan then the new Disney plus original The Imagineering Story is for you. Speaking as a huge Disney fan and someone who is obsessed with Walt Disney himself, this was to for sure to be one of the first shows I was to watch when Disney plus came out last week. I will tell you that this show did not disappoint at all. I would like to give you my thoughts and a brief recap of the first two episodes of The Imagineering Story on Disney Plus.
Episode 1 – The Happiest Place on Earth
Episode 1 takes you behind the scenes of the conception, development, building, and opening of Walts original theme park Disneyland. Walt’s original idea was thought of on a park bench during one of his Daddy Daughter days. While watching his daughters play on a carousel he decided he wanted to create a place where adults and children alike could go and have fun and get away from daily life. His wife Lillian thought he was crazy and asked him why would you want to do that? those places are dirty. Walt replied to his lovely wife, “Mine won’t be”. It also takes you on the journey and shows you how Walt developed the idea of the Imagineer. The Imagineers were a team of people he put together to create and design Disneyland. Walt would give them the idea and the Imagineers would make it happen.
The first episode also shows how Walt had to get creative to obtain financing for the park which in the end was three times the original budget. It also covers the opening day of Disneyland which was not all it was cracked up to be and even dubbed “Black Sunday ” by many. Then after the opening, we see how the park grows and becomes more than anyone ever thought it would be, well except Walt of course. He always believed in his vision and knew it would a huge success. The underlying tone of this episode shows that Walt never gave up and always believed in anyone he asked to do something for him which I thought was so impressive and shows the kind of man Walt Disney was.
Now move into the late 50s and early 60s. We see Walt get into his massive expansion on Tomorrowland. They show Imagineer legend Bob Gurr talks about how he had to develop the Monorail and The Matterhorn at the same time. Also, they dive into the creation of Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, Walt had passed away before he could see his last creation. The episode with Walt passing away and asking his brother to carry on the name and complete the Florida project.
Episode 2 – What would Walt do?
Episode 2 takes place right after Walts untimely death and primarily focuses on his brother doing whatever it takes to complete Walts dream of opening a Disney theme park on the 30,000-acre plot they bought in Florida. While back in California they look into the Haunted Mansion. They briefly touch on its creation and how it was developed and opened in Disneyland Ca. After lots of struggle and money, the Imagineer team pulls together with Roy Disney as their leader and fulfill Walts dream. On October 1st, 1971 Walt Disney World opened to a crowd of about 10,000 guests. They had anticipated a crowd of 500,000 but everyone stayed away because they thought it would be too crowded.
Obviously WDW was a huge success all because of Roy and the entire Disney team. Roys son Roy E Disney is shown saying that Roy’s last five years of his life were his best. Showing the kind of leader he was taking over and seeing to it that his younger brother’s dream came true. Roy Disney died three months after the Walt Disney World opening. Don Tatum and Card Walker took over the company and were set with the task of carrying on the company now that both of its founders were no longer alive. Tatum and Walker headed the EPCOT project and did all they could get the project done and try and honor what Walt had envisioned. However, they could do exactly what Walt wanted done. EPCOT still opened October 1st,1982.
Tokyo Disneyland opened 3 months after EPCOT did. The episode talks about how Card Walker was against partnering with OLC to develop Tokyo Disneyland. He gave a list of crazy demands to which OLC agreed to all of them shockingly. Tokyo Disneyland opened on April 15th, 1983 to a rousing success. The episode concluded in a dark tone. Disney was entering a dark time, they were at the point where they were laying off Imagineers and almost closed WED. The next episode will take us into the Michael Eisner era.
All in all, I will highly recommend The Imagineering Story. It is such a great look at behind the scenes into the Walt Disney Company. Check back next week for a review on episode 3.