Guest Blogger: Summer of Imagineering

We are so excited to share with you this post written by our friend Lauren, another miss mouse if ever there was one. Lauren is such a big fan of Disney that she’s taking part in the Imagineering program this summer. When she offered to tell us all about her experiences, we jumped at the chance. Check out this awesome post that she wrote for us 🙂

Lauren's Imagineering Badge

You know that feeling when your lifelong dream comes true? In case the answer is “not yet,” I can say with some certainty that it’s a pretty good feeling, tempered at times by “pinch me” disbelief. And I’m not just talking about the opportunity to write for my favorite blog. I am a huge fan of the 2 Miss Mouses.

Like the 2 Miss Mouses, I was a Disney kid. My Disney parents honeymooned at Walt Disney World. Photographic evidence shows them with short shorts of the same length, socks almost to the knee and hair of the same volume, alongside an 80’s Mickey Mouse. They proceeded to have Disney children and to take them every year to the Happiest Place on Earth, where dreams come true.

Europe is a really fun place to be if you are a Disney fan, which is what I discovered when my career took me there shortly after college. The early fairy tales that went to film came from the old world. Fantasyland is basically Germany. If you don’t believe me, look at the inlaid wood near and around Snow White’s Scary Adventures or Pinocchio’s Daring Journey (or even the Village Haus) and then stroll down the Hauptstraße (Main Street) of any German Altstadt (Old Town) and agree that it’s easy to feel like Belle walking through her village early in the morning…in France.

This summer I took a short break from Europe to come back to California (Southern) to work as an intern at Walt Disney Imagineering. I had visited the campus before but this time I belonged here; I had a purpose.

Even though Imagineers are not cast members (we are not onstage, rather, we make the magic), all Imagineers go through the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts orientation program called Traditions. Attendees of Traditions are primarily Disneyland Resort cast members. In my group I met a future candy maker on Main Street, a lifeguard and a nighttime maintenance fellow.

One early Friday morning my fellow Imagineers and I left Glendale for Anaheim. Our call time was 8:00 am but we arrived at 7:00, not because we are eager beavers, but because we left really early in order to beat the traffic.

Before Traditions, I had never been backstage at Disneyland. During the tour, we weaved in and out between the worlds onstage and backstage. I overheard a guest say, “Those people are really dressed up.” So if you see a group of well-dressed people wearing nametags walking around in a group through Disneyland on a Friday, it might be Traditions, and it might also be those Cast Members’ first time on stage.

I knew a fair amount of Disney knowledge and trivia before this orientation, but I had never thought about Disneyland as it was described during that day:

When you walk in to Disneyland, the entry area is like the lobby of the theatre. You see Mickey’s face in the flowers and the Disneyland Railroad station above. But you can’t see anything past that until you walk through one of two hallways with attraction posters on either side. These posters are like coming attractions, previews of movies you are about to see. Finally, you enter Main Street USA, where unlike at the movies, the set and the action are all around. As you walk down Main Street, the names of the Imagineers of yore line the windows and storefronts. These are the opening credits. When you reach the hub and the Partners statue, the movie has become an adventure that is yours to choose. Do you want to enter the world of adventure? Discover the American frontier? Live in a fairy tale in the land of fantasy? Or blast off into tomorrow?

Even though the day to day is not exactly like going to Disneyland, my days this summer have been filled with excitement, surprises, wonder and, of course, magic.

Stay tuned in the coming days, months and years because my colleagues have amazing things planned for all of the parks around the world, that I am sure will please the fan and the non-fan alike.

Remember that feeling when your dreams come true? That feeling doesn’t end.

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The author is an Environmental Engineer from Northern California and is doing her Master’s degree in Industrial Ecology in Europe. She can be found at uncivilengineering.tumblr.com