2018 Imaginations Winners

College Students Receive Awards for Innovation and Creativity in Walt Disney Imagineering’s 27th Imaginations Design Competition

January 29, 2018 | Glendale, CA – Two teams from Savannah College of Art and Design and a team from Otis College of Art and Design walked away with the top honors from Walt Disney Imagineering’s 27th Imaginations Design Competition. Started in 1991 by Disney Legend and Imagineering executive, the late Marty Sklar, this unique and creative competition seeks  out and nurtures the next generation of diverse Imagineers.

This year, teams were challenged to select an actual abandoned “ghost town” from anywhere in the world and revitalize it. The location could be a working town, a historical landmark, a living museum, a themed experience, or whatever else the contestants dreamed up. Entries had to consider the historic value, as well as have respect for the traditions and communities of the original and surrounding areas of the location.

First place was awarded to Carlos Ginatta, Michael Howell, Maria Mondloch,and Maya Vyas from Savannah College of Art and Design for Caguaya. Built around the sunken ruins of the 17th century city of Port Royal, this exploration center takes guests below the waves to discover the city’s vibrant history. At Caguaya, guests

explore the city through state-of-the-art tunnels never before used in open water, get a closer look with augmented reality-enhanced helmet dives, and help plant scientifically engineered super coral. To finish their visit, guests experience a live performance from a fully submersible theatre that transcends land and sea.

Second place went to Cameron Hoss, Corrie Pickering, Claire Puginier, and Emily Sasaki from Savannah College of Art and Design for Spaceport Hashima. Located a few miles off the coast of Japan, Spaceport Hashima is an epicenter of both traditional and Japanese culture. Created from renovating existing buildings of a former Japanese ghost town, Hashima is a thriving interplanetary terminal surrounded by a world-class luxury destination resort, featuring museums, world-renowned restaurants, and lively nightlife, as well as research and development facilities.

Kaho Horiuchi, Kentaro Yajima, and Yumi Yamazaki from Otis College of Art and Design placed third for Oniba. Tucked away in the far corner of the Kinugawa River in Tochigi, Japan lies an elaborate vacation spot, popular for its beautiful nature and hot springs. Closed during the economic crash of 1991, this ghost town has now been revived as Oniba. Once in the park, guests create their own personalized companion and guide called Mabu. With their Mabu, guests can enjoy activities and encounter spirits, complete with souvenir, customizable Mabu accessories.

Twenty students from six teams were finalists in Walt Disney Imagineering’s 27th Imaginations Design Competition out of more than 270 qualified project submissions. In addition to the three top-placed teams, the other finalist teams came from Mulenberg College, University of Pennsylvania and Baylor University. The top placed team is awarded a cash prize of $1,000, and an additional $1,000 grant is awarded to the sponsoring university.

The six teams of finalists received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney Imagineering in California from January 22 to 26 to meet and network with Imagineers, go behind-the-scenes to see how Disney magic is created, and interview for paid internships during their visit.

The projects were judged on mastery of skills and talents, guest experience, diversity and market perspective, uniqueness, adherence to project challenge, and team collaboration. The judges were looking for the ability to recognize the cultural nuances of the selected location, expanding the boundaries of what currently exists, and an evaluation of its business implications and impact on the community.

Judges also examined the teams’ ability to tell a compelling and engaging story, broad appeal to a wide audience, and a knowledge and passion for Walt Disney Imagineering – where Imagineers blend storytelling with the latest technologies to create immersive experiences that delight families all around the world.

Throughout the years, hundreds of students from universities all across the United States have participated in this competition and had the opportunity to present their projects to Imagineering executives. Many of them have become interns and fulfilled their dream of working alongside Imagineers. Some have even become full-time Imagineers and returned to serve as mentors or judges for future Imaginations competitions.

Walt Disney Imagineering

Walt Disney Imagineering is the unique, creative force behind Walt Disney Parks and Resorts that dreams up, designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions, cruise ships, real estate developments, and regional entertainment venues worldwide. Imagineering’s unique strength comes from the dynamic global team of creative and technical professionals building on the Disney legacy of storytelling to pioneer new forms of entertainment through technical innovation and creativity.

The name “Imagineering” combines imagination with engineering. Building upon the legacy of Walt Disney, Imagineers bring art and science together to turn fantasy into reality and dreams into magic.

For more information on the Imaginations Design Competition, visit www.disneyimaginations.com


Jennifer Liu – Walt Disney Imagineering, (818) 544-6130

Tim Choy, Peter Goldman – Davidson & Choy Publicity, (323) 954-7510

 The projects and concepts presented are not necessarily intended to be built by Disney – they are a way for the entrants to demonstrate their skills and creative abilities. In consideration for the opportunities provided by the Imaginations Design Competition, submissions become the sole property of Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Imagineering retains all rights to use and/or display the submissions and the materials contained in them.