John G. (NDI#194) (11 Posts)

John Gray is a curious person who is drawn to other curious people. He is a dreamer and a doer and believes that everyone and everywhere has a story waiting to be told—the trick is in how you tell it.

Dine with an Imagineer

In a few days I’ll be headed to Walt Disney World (for the first time in waaay too long) and on this trip I’ll get to Dine with an Imagineer, a special little add-on to the Disney dining package. For those unfamiliar with the option, you can share a meal with an Imagineer at either the Boardwalk’s Flying Fish Café or the Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios (we chose the Brown Derby). This is a chance to spend a little time with a member of the team responsible for creating so much of the Disney park experience. It is a group meal rather than a one-on-one, but it will be a small group so it should remain intimate. I’m sure the food will be wonderful but hopefully—with your help—the conversation will be far more satisfying.

When I was little I had the opportunity to go on a guided tour of the parks with someone who explained a few favorite tricks and techniques of the Imagineers. We went in and out of rides, slipped back stage here and there, generally seeing things from a point of view not experienced by the average guest.

Wait wait wait…you are telling me the buildings on Main Street aren’t really three stories tall? Hang on, there are no bricks in the castle? And what in the world did you mean by Pepper’s Ghost? My tour guide blew my little kid mind. As I stood on a point in the pavement, discovering I was actually at the tip of the crown of a gigantic hidden Mickey, I became fascinated by the designed world around me. I had so much I wanted to know.

Now I know more, but the more I know the more I want to know. Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself, “Why is it that the rusted out boiler room in the Tower of Terror makes me excited for the ride while the rusted out warehouse in the queue for Batman at my local amusement park makes me want to get a tetanus shot? Why am I annoyed when riding public transit yet riding any bus at Disney World leaves me singing songs?”

Somehow the Imagineers have infused enjoyment into rust and built happiness into bus fumes. They have designed to a level of depth that no one else can match, not just a depth of story but a depth of comfort and security. How do they do this, who does it and what has happened in that person’s life to bring them to the point that they can turn rust into gold?

Now I need your help…

Since I’ll be dining with an Imagineer, I’ll have the chance to get a few answers. So I wonder, what should we talk about? What should I ask? What should I expect? Have you chatted with an Imagineer or have you had the chance to Dine with an Imagineer yourself? What impressions did you take away from the experience?

Do you or someone you know want to be a part of telling Disney’s story so that others can feel the same joy and excitement you have felt all these years? If you wanted to be an Imagineer, what would you ask?

I’m really hoping the Dine with an Imagineer experience turns out to be something special. If it ends up being less, that’s ok. At the very least we will have a well fed Imagineer ready to get back to work making more magic. You know, Imagineers gotta eat too.

Contributed by: John Gray (NDI#194). John is the Imagineering blogger.

One thought on “Imagineers gotta eat too

  1. We did the ‘Dining with An Imagineer’ on our last trip to WDW in January and I know you’ll just love it! We also chose the Brown Derby rather than the Flying Fish…I had heard that the Flying Fish could get quite loud because of the cavernous ceiling making it sometimes harder to hear the Imagineer. At the Brown Derby they have you in a private room which is really nice! It is a long table so try to sit closer to the end by the door as the Imagineer sits there and you won’t miss a thing:) I think in total there were 10 guests plus the Imagineer so it made for good conversation and it gave everyone the chance to ask at least one or two questions. It was great to hear about the Imagineer’s story of how he came to be where he was at now and all that he has done along the way…everything that we talked about was new information for me, which says a lot being as I am rather obsessed about all things Disney! It was well worth the money we paid for it and I would most definitely do it again on our next trip! You get to bring home a personalized menu, a write up about the Imagineer you dine with as well as a group photo and you receive a commemorative plate.

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