Imagineer Jeanette Lomboy recently told Insider that Disney staff “thrive on doing crazy, impossible things.”
Imagineers, who are responsible for nearly every inch of Disney theme parks, are frequently charged with updating iconic attractions so that both new and returning guests can enjoy them.
This will be addressed in the upcoming Disney+ series “Behind the Attraction,” which will take fans behind the scenes of iconic attractions such as Star Tours and Jungle Cruise.
Before the show’s July 21 launch, Insider spoke with Lomboy and her colleague Imagineer Dave Durham about the series, designing Disney theme-park attractions, and how they feel about heritage rides evolving through time.
“Walt Disney famously said that Disneyland would never be complete, and I think that we have taken that to heart,” Lomboy spoke to Insider on the development of Disney theme parks.
She emphasized that Disney has a “very rich history,” and Imagineers are continually putting “a lot of thought” into theme-park modifications, even if they are as simple as relocating a park bench.
That said, it’s not surprising that larger restorations, such as Disneyland’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror becoming Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission BREAKOUT! in 2017, need a bit more effort.
“One of the things that makes Imagineering so unique is that we are 66+ years old,” she said. “We’re tied to the opening design of Disneyland, and we have a long history and legacy of incredibly talented Imagineers that have brought these things to life, so we always go back.”
Disney has announced some of its intentions to make its theme parks more accessible and friendly to all guests. Not only is the Jungle Cruise attraction being renovated to eliminate racially inappropriate images, but the “Song of the South” motif on Splash Mountain will ultimately be replaced with “Princess and the Frog” décor.
Respecting the heritage of Disney parks, according to Lomboy, was a significant element of commencing such restorations.
“We don’t make those changes without making sure we’re bringing them back better than ever,” she said of the rides.
That is not to imply that altering popular attractions is simple. According to Durham, Imagineers are always asking themselves, “How can you make it distinctive and better at the same time?”
Durham claims that one method they do so is by taking two main things into account. First, Imagineers ensure that those who enjoyed the original ride would like it “in a new way” once it has been modified. Second, Durham says he and his fellow Imagineers strive to keep in mind that for other guests, “their first time ever riding it will be the new version.”
“It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s something that we take very seriously,” he said.
And even when rides are done, whether they are new or renovated attractions, Disney never stops working on them.
“I can look at the best thing we’ve ever done, and tell you five things I’d change if I was gonna do it again,” said Durham . “Our parks evolve, and our parks change over time. As Walt said, there’s always imagination left.”
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