Tonight I attended a talk at the EMP with Marty Sklar, former president of Walt Disney Imagineering. Talk about a man with some stories, he has worked at at WDI for over 50 years, and started way back as a writer for Walt Disney himself. You quickly realize that he's been involved in some way with nearly every project that Disney has ever undertaken, and certainly has plenty of stories to go along with them.
He began with a perpared multimedia presentation, including some talks about the history of Imagineering, but then the second half of the presentation really focused on the music used throughout all of the parks. Several themes came through during the presentation, most notably his real love for Epcot, the park that he really shaped. I think there were little bits from nearly every ride's soundtrack at Epcot. It was really a well-imagineered presentation.
But then following his 45-minute or so presentation, he took a few questions, that actually amounted to at least another 45-minutes. Fortunately there were quite a few good questions that came from others in the audience, and Marty had a story for every one of them. One of the more entertaining quotes was in response to a question regarding the relative failure of Disney's California Adventure:
"You can't build a park with 18 attractions next to Disneyland with over 70 attractions and charge the same price. People are too smart for that."
I really got the impression that those in Imagineering really care about the work they do, it's really what you expect. They've proven time and again that if you build it well, people will come, but if you cut corners like the executives with MBAs seem to like to do to save a few bucks, you'll lose in the end. Funny how that seems to be a common trend you see everywhere.
It was a fascinating and entertaining talk, and since I'm an EMP member it was free, except for the $6 I had to pay for parking down at Seattle Center. Oh well, it was still worth it.