College Students Receive Awards for Innovation and Creativity in Walt Disney Imagineering’s 28th Imaginations Design Competition
February 8, 2019 | Glendale, CA — A team from Savannah College of Art and Design, along with a team comprised of students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, University of Southern California, Savannah College of Art and Design and University of Florida, and a team from Olin College of Engineering walked away with the top honors from Walt Disney Imagineering’s 28th 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 create an experience that explores a Natural or Ancient Wonder of the World. The contest proved challenging with a focus on places that are difficult to enjoy either because they are remote, inhospitable, or no longer exist. Students created experiences that explore and share these Wonders safely for a wide range of guests, at or near the original presumed location. The designers had to consider how guests could have a communal and family friendly experience as a group; how traditional methodologies and advanced technology solutions would allow the experiences to be shared; and they had to be mindful to honor the environment, history, codes and local ordinances.
Teams were encouraged to tap into the expertise of everyone on their cross- disciplinary team in supporting this idea.
The projects — to allow modern audiences with an encounter out of the reach of most guests — were also interesting for what they could not include: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality based solutions and they had to be free of Disney intellectual property.
First place was awarded to Nicholas Hammond, Remi Jeffrey-Coker, Carolyn Teves, and Ezekiel Waters from Savannah College of Art and Design for The Rose of Babylon, a botanical inquisitorium for people of all ages and a modern re-imagining of the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon that serves as a spark to rebuild the nation of Iraq. The experience is punctuated by the miraculous Hanging Gardens where guests can bask in the glory of agriculture from around the world and actively contribute to the spread of resources and the growth of new life.
Second place went to Kyle Branch from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Triet Nguyen from University of Southern California, Brooke Pandos from Savannah College of Art and Design and Jessica Woody from University of Florida for Port Pharos. Port Pharos is an explorative and heuristic resort formed by fleets of ancient ships traversing waters surrounding a reborn Lighthouse of Alexandria, creating the floating city the harbor once was. The resort is designed to honor the history, architecture, and ecosystem around the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
Miranda McMillen, Eric Miller, and Benjamin Ziemann from Olin College of Engineering placed third for The Kiiġuyaruq Express, a five-day wintertime train journey starting in Anchorage and extending all the way north to some of the most inaccessible and secluded regions in the world. On each day of the journey, the train stops at the site of a historical event or culture, and guests disembark into a lovingly recreated vision of the past where they can use their personal compasses to act as agents of the Northern Lights, assisting the people they meet with various problems, while collecting memories to contribute back into the Northern Lights.
Twenty-one students from six teams were finalists in Walt Disney Imagineering’s 28th Imaginations Design Competition out of more than 280 project submissions. In addition to the three top-placed teams, the other finalist teams came from University of Southern California and two teams from University of Texas at Austin. 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 February 4 to 8 to present their project to Imagineering executives, 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 for future Imaginations competitions.
Walt Disney Imagineering
Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) is the creative force that imagines, designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships worldwide, along with overseeing the creative aspects of Disney’s games, merchandise and publishing businesses. Imagineering’s unique strength comes from its diverse global team of creative and technical professionals, who build on the Disney legacy of storytelling to pioneer new forms of entertainment.
Frank Reifsnyder, Walt Disney Imagineering – email@example.com (818) 544-2142
Peter Goldman – Davidson & Choy Publicity – firstname.lastname@example.org (323) 954-7510
Rick Rhoades – Davidson & Choy Publicity – email@example.com (818) 468-5585
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.