I wanted to be an Imagineer as long as I can remember. When I was in 3rd grade I spent an entire day drawing a big map of Disneyland on my desktop. I had rendered every attraction in the minutest detail. But my teacher caught eye of my masterpiece, made me scrub it off my desk and then sent me to the principal’s office to get paddled for my obsession. Mind you, I’m not really obsessed, but it seems that I had a little “pixie dust” flowing in my veins even then.
As a young adult I tried to get hired but to no avail. So I eventually gave it up. Years passed… and then one day I got a card in the mail. It was from Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) and it simply said, “We want to talk to you”. At that very moment I knew I had the job I always wanted.
That was the beginning of a seven-year journey. A journey into imagination, creativity, passion, pushing the envelope, and a lot of hard work with the most talented people you could ever find in one place.
I started on the Splash Mountain/Critter Country project at Disneyland. For a year and a half I absorbed everything there was to know about the production, construction, installation, and operation of a Disney attraction. After the successful opening of Splash Mountain I was chosen to become part of the Tokyo Disneyland Project Office. Over a period of four years we conceived, produced, and with our Japanese partners, installed 13 attractions including their very own Splash Mountain, Adventureland Treehouse, and Mickey’s Toontown.
I was a member of the high level policies & procedures team, corporate synergy team, and new technology committee. I was also involved in contributing to some very special projects including the “Aida” and “Beauty and the Beast” Broadway Productions, Disneyland’s 35th Birthday celebration, and the development of Tokyo Disneyland’s 5, 10 & 20 year Master Plan. I concluded my Disney career working on the EPCOT development team and leading the S.S. Disney Floating Theme Park effort.
I couldn’t imagine working with a greater team than at Imagineering during those years. I had the distinct honor of working daily with true legends in their respective fields. And now that I have moved on, it feels like I was part of a most special fraternity. The experience challenged me and changed me and lit in me a creative flame that still burns brightly today.
Once an Imagineer, always an Imagineer….
Projects as a Walt Disney Imagineer
Walt Disney World
- Spaceship Earth Main Show change-out
- Spaceship Earth AT&T Post Show
- 3-D film “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience”
- EPCOT Interactive Fountain
- Communicore Fountain
- Tokyo Disney Sea (2nd gate)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios (2nd gate)
- Splash Mountain
- Grandma Sara’s Kitchen
- Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes
- Rackety’s Raccoon Saloon
- Little Critters Playplace
- Al O’Gator’s Country Store
- Adventureland Development
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- Country Bear Christmas Show
- Fantasyland Expansion – Mickey’s Toontown
- The Disney Gallery
- The Visionarium and film “From Time to Time”
- Splash Mountain
- Harbor Galley
- Explorer Canoes
- Emporium Expansion
- Monorail Realignment
- Beauty and the Beast – Broadway Production
- Aida – Broadway Production
- Disneyland’s 35th Birthday
- Tokyo Disneyland 5, 10 & 20 year Master Plan
- The Long Night, Eyvind Earle serigraph – SP&GIA 1995 “Golden Squeegee” Award
- “Visionarium” Tokyo Disneyland Attraction – Post show photographic model
- “MousekaVision” Interactive Kiosk – Concept and Production Design
- “Tokyo Disneyland Attraction Overview” Video – Producer/Director
- “The Making of Tokyo Disneyland – a Retrospective” Video – Producer/Director
- “S.S. Disney” Floating Theme Park – Concept, Design, Project Manager, Technical Advisor
- “Tokyo Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary Live” Video – Producer/Director
Thrill testing TDL Splash Mountain’s boat mock-up
Last day of Disney Way One – I’m one happy penguin!
With the Sherman Brothers in the recording studio
From Disneyland Line 12-14-1990
WDI Project Planning holiday team photo 1993. Mark is the only one wearing a jacket!
Tokyo Disneyland team photo, spring 1993. (front row, left to right) Tracy Smith, Yoshi Akiyama, Irene Nalywaiko, Jon Georges, Grace Bray. (back row) Valarie Williams, Dave Yanchar, Paul Komer, Mark Hickson (with samurai sword), Rudy Lord and Dick Kline.
Top of the world 8-88
In trouble again!
With Joe Rohde, Executive Designer and Vice President, Creative -Walt Disney Imagineering at Aulani Resort
My Old Boss