Comments for Want to be a theme park designer? Disney Imagineer and Universal creative experts offer advice

32 Comments

  1. rich west

    Wow, my aside comment about the #2 pencil really got frakked up and convoluted in the article. I used it as an example of what NOT to overlook. I was also the one who pointed out the importance of being a rennaissance artist. Not sure where “Until recently” came from as I’ve been using photoshop and Sketch up for 7 years now. Ahhh, now I know how the stars feel when they claim to be misquoted. 😉

  2. Ricky Brigante

    Rich – Thanks for stopping by! Sorry if the language I used above didn’t completely jive with what you were trying to get across. I’ve updated the post to clarify the points you made, as the goal of this article is to give sound advice to future theme park designers and there’s no point in leaving “misquoted” text in there.

    Of course, I could have quoted you directly if recording devices had been allowed during the discussion! 🙂

  3. Kim Gromoll

    Rich West, you’re such a diva. I wrote this with a #2 pencil before I typed it in 😉

  4. Fantastic forum, guys. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt very personal and relaxed. I did have a question, if I may?: do you have graphic designers and illustrators also on staff to carry out your initial concepts to production level, or do you do them yourselves? How much support staff do you have in the department?

  5. rich west

    Ricky,
    Genuine Thanks for the clarification, I really appreciate it.
    Kindest regards,
    Rich West

  6. I like the Tin Woodsman. In all honesty, the evening was as rewarding for all of us on stage as it was for those who came to see the show. We are all fans of the genre and that is why we have succeeded… we love it. From Star Wars to JAWS to Lost in Space, we were mesmerized by some form of storytelling at an age that sent us on a life of creativity.

  7. Kim Gromoll

    Truth is, we would do this as a hobby if we didn’t have the jobs we have. Just ask Ray Keim. Rich West said it best. “Follow your bliss”.
    Thanks so much to all involved with the event. And thank you Ricky for getting the word out pre-show, and putting it out there for all to see post show.
    And special thanks to Stef.
    You are the reason the event even happened.

  8. Rich West

    On the subject of the ‘Roy Neary’ syndrome, It’s also interesting to note
    something I always find… profound. The actors from the shows that were mentioned (shows like Star Trek and Lost in Space), have noted in interviews that on the occation they have been to NASA, the Astronauts and technicians have all come out of their offices to tell them how they knew what they wanted to do in life because of these shows. Now can you imagine? An Astronaut on the moon because of a little 60’s show called Star Trek. I recently read an article about Doctors knowing what they wanted to be in life as they watched shows like Dr. Kildair and Ben Casey as small kids. Wow!

  9. I, too, really enjoyed this event. I would love to see more like it in the future. It was great meeting many of you all as well.
    -Nate

  10. Melody, to answer your question a while back. Most of us are jacks-of-all-trade, knowing a little bit of everything, so most of us have the ability to create digital art and illustrations for our own concepts (and usually do), however there are a couple of us in the department who are dedicated to creating art for concepts and final production.
    I can’t lie. Being a part the Universal A&D team can be very challenging work but it IS as fun as it seems!
    I’m glad everyone had such a great time! It was a wonderful night!
    Ricky, thanks again for your great coverage! Our Relay For Life event was a HUGE success!

  11. Max Newman

    thanks for the information yall but i would like to ask a question if thats ok? I just graduated high school and I am attending kansas city art institute in the fall to get my BFA and im very intrested in a career in amusement park design. what kind of things should i focus on while in college to reach my goal? do i need to get a degree in design? or would i be qualified with a degree in fine arts? and also does universal offer any kind of internist programs to college students? thanks very much!

  12. Michael Marante

    I really LOVED this article, it really let me know some sort of direction I should follow to pursue this dream job I’ve been fantasizing since I was 5 years old. Thank you.

    P.S. Now if someone can please inform me what sort of major or degree I should go for to make this dream a reality, please let me know, I would so appreciate it. Once again, thank you for the article and I would attens then next EDF if there’s one next year or soon.

  13. Inigo Montoya

    I just had a question about Imagineering. What field of engineering is it best to be in to actually come up with the concepts of rides and design them? My dream job is to design the rides/attractions in order to bring smiles to park guests faces. Can anyone help me?

  14. Onix Serrano

    What if one wants to be show director, or creative/direct parades what would the be?

  15. Im sorry but alot of the stuff you guys have done not just Disney has destroyed the infrastructure of vacation parks just as many small buisinesses have done choping up the rides like the sky cars and shipping them off to china or off for scrap. CLosing ANimal parks although disney opened theirs Kings dominion closed theirs. Building large bohemeth attractions like smurf mountain at Kings Dominion and closing attractions like 50,000 leagues although disney was able to rebrand the theme at disney Land and closing the Animation studio in Florida. Disney has done nothing with EPCOT in 20 years. I am happy to stay Far away after spending many years to goto college like most americans to brush up my design skills I will stay far away from companys like disney and make my home a vacation place.

  16. Clint Godwin

    So, I’m becoming a high school senior, and I want to be a theme park designer (for Universal Studios, specifically) but I have NO CLUE what major or career path to pursue in order to do this. Advice?
    Thanks~ Clint

  17. I think by reading this article I’ve really realized my passion. My life has many similarities to Walt Disney including where I grew up/spent my childhood, etc. It is really interesting about how many had this moment of realization as a child. This was an OMG moment for me. When I was about 7 or 8 years old or so me and a friend in Missouri that I went to school with were planning out an amusement park and we were even making a model of it. It was to be built on his family’s property, a farm in rural MO. LOL. Step by step I’ve come in this direction of creating. I’ve been drawing, molding and creating since I was little and I still spend time doing it, daydreaming about it, praying about it, focusing upon it and attracting it. I feel that I have that magic spark that some people lack that should go hand in hand with the artistic talent. I’d like to think that it’s that same spark that Walt Disney had within him. It’s not just one thought or idea. It’s hundreds of ideas flowing. It’s leaving the moment and going into “the zone” and feeling the idea as well as envisioning it. I can see them. I can feel them. I can experience them with my innermost being. I can feel when something is right and when it’s not and let me tell you….many amusement parks do not have the magic and/or are in the process of losing it. Even Walt Disney’s ideas and those who worked with him must’ve had that feeling in order to make it as popular as it is. I know that when I get tapped to consult with someone or to be a part of their business that magic will happen. I get so excited just talking about it! The feeling is what I feel separates the artists from the Imagineers. Feeling is what separates an awesome theme/amusement park from one that is just so-so. It is so critical in the process. I would like SO MUCH to get confirmation of this from Imagineers in the business. Maybe this is the key that will get me in the door. My whole thing is…how can I bring the Magic to others? How can I ensure that the Magic stays alive in Disney and other places? Remember the movie “Field of Dreams”? In the movie they say, “If you build it they will come”. It happened for them. Why? Because the magic was there.

    1. What’s even more of a coincidence is that I live in Louisiana where from my understanding was where Walt Disney wanted to build Walt Disney World. Things that make you go Hmmm…. There’s no such things as coincidences so it is said.

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  19. From a commercial standpoint, the design of theme parks, Disney is the benchmark for operational and commercial efficiency combined with beauty and aesthetic appeal, as a designer of theme parks are the reference and example to follow.

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  27. kyle chadwick

    I have always dreamed of getting a career in ride designing ever since i was 5 years old watching the discovery channel on rides and attractions in 1995 and still watch them. even though i am not artistic but with computers, it is a different story. I have so many ideas for the ride industry, that i really want to pursue a career in that field. I am still in college but i need help on what classes to choose in order to be on the ride design team. Please help.

    kyle chadwick
    kylechadwick13@yahoo.com

  28. Very helpful! Thank you!

    I have a question I hope someone can answer. I think I chose the wrong majors if I want to be an attraction designer and I’m wondering if I am at a dead end. I majored in art and design and business with emphases in art history and marketing. I can paint quite well and am teaching myself digital painting. Do I have a chance or will the struggle to get hired and/or learn the required skills and programs be too great for me?

    I knew I wanted to do attraction design (didn’t know what to call it at the time) and the lack of understanding made it difficult for people to give me advice. So basically I chose what I did so I could develope my creativity and team project managment skills, mostly.

  29. I am a student in Digital Media getting my Bachelor Degree in Animation, Gaming and Modeling Concentration and I live in Florida and I this is my dream job!!! I love to go to Orlando and in love with all Theme parks!!! I have been considering working as a theme park designer, this article is awesome! Make me feel like this dream came come thru and I am starting looking for advice on this career, you all do an awesome job and I will enjoy working hard for this kind of job, I understand when you say than you will do this as a hobby because I feel the same passion like you, thanks a lot to share your experiences and advice and for doing this world a better place!

    Angie Reyes

  30. I almost never comment, however i did a few searching and wound
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    Inside the Magic. And I do have 2 questions for you
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  31. Jon

    I volunteer at the Historic Fourth Ward School in Virginia City, Nevada, upon which Disney based their Phantom Manorin Disneyland Paris. We are a non-profit with little funding and were hoping to approach the Disney Corporation in hopes of helping with the painting of the outside of the Fourth Ward School before it totally deteriorates. Who, specifically, at Disney would it be best to contact for HELP! Disney is a very difficult organization to find the best person to speak to about such a need!

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