The Imageineering Story – Episode 101 – The Happiest Place On Earth Review
The Imagineering Story is a new documentary series has been created by Academy Award nominated director, Leslie Iwerks and chronicles the sixty-seven year history of Walt Disney Imagineering department, which is a place best described as equal parts artist studio, design center, a think tank and innovation laboratory. This is where an eclectic group of creative people bring ideas to life.
In the first episode, it focuses on the creation of the Imagineering department and the creation of Disneyland. It’s a fascinating story about why Walt Disney wanted to create a theme park and hearing stories about the construction of the theme park and its infamous attractions like “the Enchanted Tiki Room”, “The Jungle Cruise” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Along with many more behind the scenes stories about attractions like “The Matterhorn”, “Autopia” and many more.
There is also lots of stories about the attractions created for the 1964 trade fair, including “It’s A Small World” and why the trade fair was so important for the company.
And sadly this episode ends with the death of Walt Disney and the instant effect it had on those around him and the “Flordia Project”, though the second episode looks to be diving into more detail on the creation of Walt Disney World and how the Disney company dealt with Walt’s death.
This episode was easily my favourite thing to watch on the Disney+ launch day, I’m a huge Disney theme park fan and have been to the parks all around the world. I’ve read many books on the creation of Disneyland and Walt Disney biographies, along with watching multiple documentaries. But the Imagineering Story is one of the greatest Disney documentaries I’ve seen. Originally this was going to be released as a movie a few years ago, but it was changed to a Disney+ series, which has allowed it to go into far greater detail. And that’s the key benefit of this show, it now has room to grow and give us Disney fans much more detail.
It completely captured my attention and multiple times throughout the episode, the words “wow” came out of my mouth. Especially hearing stories of how Disneyland really wasn’t ready for opening day and the troubles that occurred during it. The bonus of having footage from that time, due to Disney promoting the theme park with a TV series to get additional funding, is also a huge benefit.
While the series might be created for Disney, it doesn’t shy away from telling stories of things that went wrong, such as issues with workers over long hours or attractions breaking down, which could easily have been brushed aside. This helps keep the documentary more grounded in reality, than just a marketing opportunity.
For people who have never been to a Disney theme park, this might give them more appreciation into what went into building Disneyland, but to me, this series has been made for the millions of people who have visited the theme parks and want to know more.
It’s an incredible first episode and it’s easily my favourite launch title from Disney+. I can’t wait until Friday for the next one.
Rating – 5 Stars