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WDW Radio # 665 – Former Imagineer Tom K. Morris on Creating Journey Into Imagination

Former Walt Disney Imagineering creative Tom K. Morris joins me again to share stories about the design, development, and creation of the original Journey Into Imagination, including what (and who) was almost included in the attraction and pavilion.

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Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Lou Mongello: When we last left Tom Morris back on show 6 61, he had just finished sharing his origin story and tales of Disneyland working at Imagineering, which I guess was still wet back in 1979 F cuts world of motion, Tony Baxter, splash mountain, and it's upcoming theming and much more. But we ran out of time, especially because I wanted to give this next project he worked on it's very much do.

So I want to first welcome back. Tom came Morris to this.

[00:00:33] Tom K. Morris: Thank you, Lou. It's great to be back.

[00:00:35] Lou Mongello: It is great to have you back in. And it's funny when we were just sort of finishing up last time, just because of time, you started to mention the three words I couldn't wait to get to, which was of course, journey into imagination.

And I said, no, no, no, we can't. We can't go down this. I know you have limited time. I want to sort of make sure we give this project and probably the many questions that I'm going to have it's due. So let's go into the way back machine back to, I guess, probably summer of 1979, when Kodak, who was the official camera company, film company of Walt Disney world comes in with this idea to create, I guess, really more than just a single attraction, but an overall pavilion.

Talk to me about your assignment into journey, into imagination, how it came to be and what your initial role.

[00:01:31] Tom K. Morris: Sure. Well first of all, I I'm unsure of the precise timeline. I don't, it may have started before summer 79 and I'll know the answer to that question. As soon as I get to a layer of my collection that I've been going through, that's got those memos.

But I also recently discovered that it was something I think that they were talking about. A year earlier. It, it has the term images and imagination popped up about, in fact, that was the initial name of the pavilion when I started. And then I, I found some information that had it placed on a master plan back in 1978.

So it, it seems like they may have had some initial talks with Kodak Kodak, and maybe they got busy and, you know and the discussion with them was put on hold and then returned. Sometime in the, I think the late spring, early summer of 79. And I think just one day, Tony Baxter came up to me and said, Hey I've been assigned.

New project. He was in the middle of, by the way of working on big thunder, completing big thunder at Disneyland. And he had been there. You know, I hadn't seen him for the first several months when I started at wed cause he was down at Disneyland almost every day. Finishing out big thunder between field art director.

So one day suddenly there's Tony, Hey, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be at Disneyland. And he said, well, I've just been assigned to this new project for Epcot that they actually want to get done by opening day called images and imagination. And I'd like you to be a part of it to help lay out the ride, lay out the pavilion, whatever it's going to be, because there's no architect by the way available.

So you're going to kind of do some of the preliminary layout work for that and participate in the, in all of the idea and story sessions. So that started right away. And as I recall, the other team members we, I should've written this down, but I know. Steve Kirk at some point, but immediately I think it was very Braverman.

Rick Harper, who directed the impressions to France film, Bob Rogers, who was an an Imagineer back then a guy named Michael Lloyd who is a matte artist. I think he still is who was trained under Peter Ellen Shaw and did a lot of the matte paintings for the star Trek and star. I think he did some for star wars, but I know he did some of the star Trek matte paintings.

He was on the team and Ooh, God. Eventually Steve skip. Eventually I'm trying to think initially, and again, when I go through these old memos I'll I'll know, but yeah, eventually skip would be brought on board. Steve Kirk and tad stones. In fact, a lot of folks came over from, were on loan from feature animation from the studio.

So that would be tad stones and Andy Gaskell, importantly he he's really responsible for the look and style. I would say for most of the scenes and journey into imagination, he did the, I would say he kinda did visually. He didn't lay them out. On plan, but he did renderings that suggested how the scenes would be laid out.

And they're beautiful, gorgeous. Maybe only one or two of them have been published and someday I'm sure we'll see more. You may have seen, I think online ended up his pencil sketch that indicated Spider-Man I believe, and, you know, a Marvel aspect or a Marvel moment in the literature scene. He is still is an amazingly talented person and he was a production designer on a lot of the feature films during the second golden age.

At Disney, you know, that would include lion king and duty and the beast and those kinds of films. And so he, he was an enormous talent. He hadn't done those yet. He, they were all, you know, I think happy to come over to Imagineering at the time cause they were working Fox and the hound and we're not really thrilled about that.

So let's see. Yeah, that was kind of the core team. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone important. And immediately it seemed fairly quickly in the timeline. It seemed to coalesce into a four-part journey that would include a ride through the traction, a hands-on area. We were all inspired by the Exploratorium in San Francisco, which still exists.

It recently moved. But we all had visited that at some point. And so it was kind of like, what is it, Disney Virgin of the Exploratorium. And that would become, of course image works and then the 3d film. And that was from the prompting coming from Kodak. Because we weren't necessarily, I remember there was kind of some like 3d movies.

I didn't pose go out, you know, of a style in the fifties, but there had been a recent, I think 3d film done and may have been the one that may have been done by Marie Lerner. Gosh, I need to do my homework. It may have been a CS oriented film for a museum or C park or something. And so Kodak was excited about it.

And the, the film guys that were on the team, like Bob Rogers and Rick Harper were excited about it. So I think that. Initiated the discussions about a 3d film. And then the fourth element was an imagination gardens of which a piece of it ended up being built with a leapfrog fountains. And there were some, I think that pop jet fountain with Figma, a figment topiary, and then the upside down waterfall.

And then that weird place structure that ended up on top of that. Those were kind of the remanence of the of what was going to be called the Magination gardens.

[00:07:26] Lou Mongello: Could it be sort of this outdoor sort of walking park? Correct.

[00:07:31] Tom K. Morris: Yeah, I think the idea was that initially the original idea was that the attraction would unload on the second level into the image works from which you would naturally spill down out of the building, into the gardens area.

And then the 3d movie was kind of one of the what's the anchor, I guess you could say for the garden area and that all went away, you know, several months later when there was a come to reality, you know, meeting to get the budget down because it had spiraled out of budget, probably mostly due to me.

[00:08:06] Lou Mongello: It's funny, you say you use the word spiral because am I correct? That there was actually going to be, and we'll talk about the turntable, but there was going to be sort of a second table that those want to bring you up until, so the attraction was really going to be two levels

[00:08:19] Tom K. Morris: itself. Well, yeah, the second level was only the second turntable I believe.

So you'd go up out of out of the last scene of the attraction upstairs to the second turntable. And I think I worked out a plan when the two turntables were actually stacked on top of each other, but that was turned out to not be a good idea for ride control reasons. So so then they were separated and that's probably the point where it got very expensive.

And so now you had two separate turntables and kind of a, you know, a deadhead area that would go from upstairs, back down, you know, it just, it added cost. Although it would have been a lovely way to end the attraction. So, but that either the biggest loss, I guess and gosh, you know, if I could go back in time and, and if there was, you know, the thing is we're running out of time, so there wasn't too much time to explore a lot of alternatives, but what would have been nice would have been to still unload upstairs?

And I mean, that was kind of a lesson we all knew, you know, just innately that you're going to have a hard time getting people to go upstairs, unless it's so obvious that you must go up there because there's something so shiny and sparkling, and it was difficult to, to arrange that, to get that, to get there in the time that we had.

So we just unloaded them on the lower level. And initially we had a turntable load. You know, kind of like a giant version of the people move her the one way people move our loading. So it would be a giant, you know, a much larger diameter turntable to load the vehicles. But then at that point they were looking at these independently moving vehicles, not on not chained together, like an Omni mover, but more like a people mover with variable speed and with motors on the, you know, along the track so that it could slow down to a a slow pace that you.

Easily bore, you know, easily load and unload without the need for a speed ramp or a turntable, and then speed up as it goes into the ride and then slow down as it hits the turntable and then, you know, moves at a steady speed through the turntable. And then it was supposed to kind of pick up speed in a couple of points, which it did, but not as much as we would've liked, you know, we wanted some real thrill elements where it would actually kind of like be a free fall moment.

But it didn't quite work out that way. You know, basically it was a reinvention of the people mover and it was something that was, I think, on the agenda of the ride engineers, you know, that, that they wanted. It take that to the next level. And it would eventually introduce some complications to the to the schedule mostly.

I mean, it was a very doable thing, but it required a lot of test and adjust. And that's why the attraction portion opened a little bit later than the rest of the pavilion. So it was

[00:11:16] Lou Mongello: really more of time than technology. That I've

[00:11:19] Tom K. Morris: heard that from. Well, yeah, because imagine, you know, some of the other pavilions had already been in concept two years prior, you know, energy and transportation and land at all, gone through their concept phases in 19 76, 77, 78.

And here we were, we had to come up with something right away for Kodak. And there was a staffing issue too, a little bit because there was no, there were no architects to work on it. And so I was the de facto architect. You know, I was really just supposed to kind of lay it out in general, but I ended up doing kind of the, the geometry on the, on the main building, on the ride building and on the crystals just so that we can get a model made, you know, so that we can hand something over to the model builders and you know, that was buildable.

That was, you know, based in reality and scale. So that's what I was doing. I think during the summer of 79 was laying out the attraction, laying out the overall pavilion. We never really got too far into the gardens. I think we just did a basic concept of it. Someone else took over for the theater because that was a special kind of requirement.

I'm sure we had someone from the studio working that out because it involved projection and, you know, screens and angles and lenses and all those things that I know nothing about. Marie Lerner was brought on board, the academy award winning director, and he really grabbed a hold of a 3d film.

And of course at some point probably in the. Late summer or fall of 79. The Sherman brothers were brought on board to write the music, the songs. And then we had a great arranger composer named George Wilkins. Who's still around and he did some. A fantastic job of taking that music, you know, to an even higher level, the way that Erwin costal did for Mary Poppins.

You know, it's just like it's so irresistible to listen to that. You just want to listen to it over and over all. I'm talking about all the different little pieces for it, that area, background music, the the waiting area music for the film and making memories, film, and all of that. They did such a great job for that

[00:13:36] Lou Mongello: years ago.

I used to tell people when the attraction, when the initial attraction closed, there was great background music. That for time you could only hear in the restrooms, I'm like, you'd need to go to the restroom and hear how good this music is.

[00:13:50] Tom K. Morris: I think someone said it's still playing in the restrooms. Yeah. So that was all, you know, a lot of fun.

And I w you know, I, I attended all of the story and brainstorm sessions. I contributed a lot of, kind of, you know, dorky pencil sketches, which I'd love to find someday, but, you know, I, I thought I submitted them. But they don't show up, you know, they haven't shown up basically about what the pavilion might look like on the outside and some ideas for the dream port, because the dream port was kind of you know, the scene right after the turntable scene was an important element.

And I just found out that the bulk of that scene, cause I didn't, you know, I refined some of the elements on it, through my show set drawings, but the, but it was basically designed via model. And I always wondered, you know, was it John Stone or was it Andy Gaskell? But. There's nothing in Andy's sketches that indicate that steam, punky, you know, captain Nemo's kind of look.

And I think I just discovered that that scene was designed by Tom Sherman, which makes complete sense, Mr. Captain Nimo himself. Yeah. And

[00:15:00] Lou Mongello: as you know, as you're going through and mentioning all these names, I think some of which are very familiar. Some maybe you're not, it's amazing that Tony is assembling, you know, this, this Avenger like team of Imagineers.

I mean, it's you and Barry and, and Steve Kirk. I remember I had Steve, I interviewed Steve one of my very first, I think it was back on show 30 in 2007, like 15 years ago. Who, and again, correct me. Didn't he do the original sort of physical. Designed for figment and dream finder and then X Atencio sort of

[00:15:33] Tom K. Morris: finalized.

Yeah, I think so. It never steps in between cause Andy Gaskell did what I considered to be the, the best version of the two. Although, you know, figment was a little more. Reptilian, I guess an Andy's version, but I loved his dream finder, but I think it goes back all the way before I started at Imagineering.

I think the idea for those two characters goes back to I think it goes back to discovery bay, which Steve Kirk and Tony were working on that the

[00:16:04] Lou Mongello: professor Marvel.

[00:16:05] Tom K. Morris: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So, so Steve came up with came up with that and also the idea, I don't know if he came up with the idea, but he, he did a model of the dream catching machine, which was handed over to me to deal with, along with the entire turntable and people

[00:16:23] Lou Mongello: forget Tom, again, the attraction that we have now.

Not only is a shell of its former self and the, the original, but is much, much shorter. And I don't think people realize, and I want you to talk a little bit about that turntable, not just in terms of the size of it and the engineering of it, but it was a very long piece of the attraction, right? It wasn't like three, three plus

[00:16:48] Tom K. Morris: minutes.

Yeah. Three, three and a half. I think. I called it quality time. That's the time where you're focused on it and important content is being delivered. And that was, it was funny. I ended up doing an exposure sheet for it, like they do an animation. And I think I got the idea from the art of animation book, you know, Bob Thomas' book where there's a little, several pages that explain the exposure sheet process.

And so. Created around turning exposure sheet with little tick marks on it. And each check mark represented one second of time. And that way we could tell exactly what's happening with the vehicles as they're entering what they're seeing, because there's a whole bunch of stuff that needed to be done in order to isolate one scene from the other so that you're not hearing the adjacent scene or seeing the adjacent scene.

And and also ensuring that your, that everyone's sight lines would be good. You know, that there wouldn't be a an extreme angle in the front. Or at the end where you've got like a, you know, a not very good view into there. It was very challenging, you know, cause you're dealing with pie wedges and how many sections can it be divided into?

Is it 3, 4, 5? And it didn't end up being five, being the magic number and the arrangement of vehicles being four very tightly squeezed together. And then we discovered, you know, if you, if you shaped the vehicle and plan more like an egg or a teardrop, you could get an extra seat in it with the same spacing between vehicles and that space in between vehicles is important as it slows down and comes into unload and load that that will determine the dispatch interval.

It was funny because. No one else in, in the department, in the set design department understood any of that kind of metric. And that all came a lot of that was baked into my head from being a ride operator at Disneyland and knowing about About dispatch intervals and vehicle speeds and safety speed and all of that.

And so I, I kind of came with that knowledge. I had never done a ride layout before I had admired the ride layouts that Claude coats and bill Martin had done for Disneyland. But I, I had not personally done a ride layout before. And so, you know, when I sat down to do it, I'm kinda like, am I qualified for this?

But I guess I was, it was actually kind of easy, you know, once you have all the, once you have developed the tool kit, which is the turning radiuses and the speeds and all of that it's, you know, it was fairly easy to do.

[00:19:40] Lou Mongello: And I think, you know, you, you mentioned the, the, I think people forget just. How unique those vehicles are. And when now when you start to think about it, and then that teardrop shape is brilliant in design, because not only do you get another person, but you're really able to sort of manage the sight lines, are you really able to direct what and how people see in that car?

[00:20:03] Tom K. Morris: And they were S they were tiered, I don't know if it was the first vehicle that we had done where the back seat is higher than the front seat. I don't know if the caterpillar is in Alice. I have to. I can't remember. It might've been the first, first ride vehicle where we were, where the back seats were up higher than the lower seats.

And also the, the odd number allowed you to look between heads when you were in. That was more important on the second and third car than it was on the first and fourth car. But you know, if you got those cherry seats, then you didn't have a head directly in front of you. So those were some innovations that I think we had worked with.

And, you know, the idea of an odd number of people. It was not met initially. You know w w it wasn't welcomed immediately by the operations folks, because they were so used to, you know, four people, six people, eight people, but when I sat down and, and demonstrated and showed them how, you know, this is as tight as you can get vehicles smushed together and and have them slow down in the area is it's all, everything is so interrelated, but it goes back to the speed that you're loading people at, in the load area in order to hit the dispatch interval at the target DHRC.

So I, I showed them, look, you can get an extra person, you know, in there in the same, on the same center point, I think it was David Todd who might've been the. Representative because he was the Pico coordinator for this attraction and they, you know, ended up doing everything. Basically, they ended up doing a lot of our jobs for us particularly the project managers job.

And but they, they come from an operations background and they were also acted by Dick newness to, for their particular roles. So it was a good working relationship, I think between me and David Todd cause we both understood kind of the operational and metric aspect of everything. And it

[00:22:03] Lou Mongello: sounds like you, whether you volunteered to or not, you, you wore a lot of hats, right?

All of a sudden you're the architect and designing all these different things. But I think one of the reasons why. The, the original incarnation of imagination was so special. So revered, so beloved, so missed was because it truly was a multisensory attraction, right? All five senses, 360 degrees. You talked about not just the theme song, but the score.

And so some of the other elements, what are the other aspects? I think that is, is critical to it are the voice actors and your initial recommendation or request for voice actors, I think would have been, it was brilliant. Brilliant. It was also expensive. Talk a little bit about who you recommended, why and how that didn't happen.

Because when we talk about the voice of dream finder, there's sort of voices, right? There's sort of multiple voices before we get to we'll get to Chuck and Ron and, and Billy.

[00:23:10] Tom K. Morris: Right. Well, I think they were well into the voice selection process in general, and they had selected dream finder, but they were having a problem identifying a figment.

And so I just remember John Byner, you know, he was a funny comedian actor that was on some sitcoms and on variety shows and he could do a helium voice without inhaling helium. And little did I know at the time he was also voicing Gurgi from the black cauldron. So he was already kind of on the Disney Boyce, you know, voiceover docket, and but no one had heard.

And no one on the team had heard of him. I'm like, don't you watch get smart because he would occasionally show up on that and other shows. And he came in, I thought he did a good job. I sat, I was the guy who had to bring them in, walk them over to the recording studio and work with the sound engineers and you know, someone didn't like it, I guess.

So then I suggested, or maybe it was before. I can't remember if it was before or after, but I said the first, I mean, the great idea would be to get Robin Williams who was more on Mork and Mindy. Cause he was just so crazy. And and, and you know, he he was just, you know, a loose cannon, but funny. And he could do all sorts of funny little voices and they said, are you out of your mind, he would charge $10,000.

And the, and the max and, and at some point I think it was Randy Bright told me, he said, we have a Mac, a maximum of a thousand dollars that will pay for a boy session. And that's why you don't hear all freeze anymore because he wants more than that

[00:24:55] Lou Mongello: because you wanted Paul frees to be dream finder.

[00:24:57] Tom K. Morris: Probably I probably, yeah.

I mean, that was kind of like the no brainer first idea out of the gate, but it was explained to me that Paul wanted more than, than the limit. So he was out as well. And I also remember suggesting this was before George welcome Wilkins came on board. Maybe it was before even the Sherman brothers came on board because remember the Sherman brothers had done nothing for several years for Disney.

So, you know, you almost felt like a nerd suggesting the Sherman brothers. Cause it was like, oh, that's, you know, that's old hat. We don't do the Sherman brothers anymore. Thankfully, you know we were able to get them, but I remember suggesting Danny Elfman and that was another leg who I said, well, he had not done films at that point.

He was just, he had lingo blingo rock band, and I had all of their albums and I think I played some of their albums and they went, whoa, you know, so. Oh, my God, this is like the story of my career is suggesting things and people basically saying shut up. And then years later that the idea merges and now

[00:26:07] Lou Mongello: people look back and like, gosh, how did we pass on a Paul frees, Robin Williams combination for, for dream finder and, and figment, but even the, the original voice actor that wed hire Chuck McCann, who I remembered, I'm going to show my age from far out space nuts with with Bob Denver.

And he obviously had a, you had a very prolific career too. I remember he had also had a small part in Millbrook silent movie huge Mel Brooks span, but you know, he. He creates his voice. He sort of bases it on Frank Morgan's performance in wizard of Oz, but at some point, and it doesn't, I I've never been able to sort of get the real answer about what happens to Chuck McKenna and why he ends up leaving to be replaced with a soundalike voice actor who, who I love.

And I've known for years, Ron Schneider.

[00:26:57] Tom K. Morris: Yeah. I don't know too much about that at some point, you know, I really, it was none of my business to be involved in the in the voice casting and in the music. I think I just, you know, raised my hand about John Byner and Robin Williams and Danny Elfman and after three strikes, I shut up.

So I didn't, I wasn't really involved in all the other casting there for that. So I don't know. I don't know how, how that went about, so

[00:27:25] Lou Mongello: maybe something you can answer and forgive me if you've answered it on social ready or you're, you're wonderfully communicative and responsive on social. And for years especially early on.

Those who remember the original iteration of the attraction being so much longer and even sort of where the load area is now is very different than where the load area was. And he literally, there were rumors that elements of the turntable were still there. Just sort of boarded up behind some, some plywood and mural somewhere.

Do you know how, you know, what is sort of left from there? And, and because obviously I don't maybe

[00:28:02] Tom K. Morris: have coming in the, yeah, I would love to know. And I've heard, you know, both that elements of that are still there and, and not if there's elements still there, it's probably below. Area below, below, below the loading level.

Cause that the turntable itself was about sunk about the mechanism that turned everything was sunk about six feet as I recall below the load level. So that's where the actual turning table was because you had to have some. Down below, you know, Sightline wise to believe that this flying aircraft was actually flying in the air and there was a bunch of equipment down there on the floor.

There was a fog puffer machine and and a CO2 tank and a whole bunch of things down below. So that's what actually turned. And then there were the five columns that held part of the upper attic area to the turntable. And so those columns, I'm sure the five columns are I'm sure are, were, you know, welded out.

But what might still be there? I don't know. I almost got a chance to go prowling around, but it didn't happen, but the, you know, the actual turntable itself might still be down there down below. And there'd be no reason. There'd be no reason necessarily to, you know, it may have been too expensive, you know, I've taken off the question just to build on that.

[00:29:27] Lou Mongello: And I know we were just talking before you have a, an inordinate, countless amount of photos and slides and Polaroids that hopefully you'll be able to get scanning. Cause I'm, I'm sure along the way that

[00:29:38] Tom K. Morris: you were we're documented scanned actually, but I, you know, someone has been several people have been bugging me to do a book about journey into imagination which is not at the top of my do list, but it sure makes sense.

And I'd sure like to work on it with someone. So I'd held back evil, only seen. Maybe 5% of the photos that sound that you're not hearing right

[00:30:01] Lou Mongello: now, or the sound of people screaming at their car, write that book and share those photos. Well, I mean, look, all these years later, the love and, and I think the handwriting is on the wall in terms of what we see in Epcot and the resurgence of figments popcorn bucket.

I'm looking at you there, there is, there is a future for this pavilion. I think the handwriting has been on the wall for years, especially based on the state of the post-show area and the lack of love and attention that has been given. So Tom came Morris. I want to challenge you have fun with, with you.

If you were put in charge of the reimagination of the imagination project, I'm going, I'll give you a little bit more than a thousand dollars. I'll give you an unlimited budget. What do you do? Because I have to imagine there's times that you've laid in bed hammock in your car going, man, if I could do it, this is the way I would do the imagination.

[00:31:01] Tom K. Morris: Well, I, I returned a lot of the elements you know, from the original show, like the turntable and the dream catching machine and most of the scenes, I think, but I wouldn't do it all exactly the same way. But I, it would be a similar experience. I think the relationship between dream finder and figment could be even more, it could be strengthened and, and dream finder carved into an even more appealing character along the lines of what the Marvel dyes did for that comic strip, which I think was you know, it was more of a, a younger and and you got a better idea of the origin story and why and why the relationship, why the yin and yang kind of relationship existed between figment and dream finder.

Cause it's not that the dream finder is. Smart, you know, and intelligent and educated and therefore he's not fun. And figment is fun, but he's not responsible or capable of, you know, intelligent you know, it, it was too separated. Well, it is now it was less so in the original, but I think it could be even more.

The message can be made even stronger that you can be any combination of artistic, creative, scientific, calculating. It could be left brain and right brain. You know that it's not, you don't go through the whole world saying I'm right. Brained. And therefore, I don't know how to do math or I'm left brain, so I'm not creating.

And so I think that message is an important one to, to bake into the bake into the story. And you know, certainly update, you know, the performing arts scene, you know, that laser thing that ended up there was, I think it was some of the first laser animation ever done or digital animation or digital laser animation was done by Mike Sandino at the studio.

And it was kind of what we ended up with with the time, once again, and it was supposed to be, you know, more spectacular than that. It would be so easy to do today. Then we were dealing with something that had never been done before. So I think that. Seen performing arts would certainly need some updating the art scene, the, you know, the, all the white leaves and white, you know, the arts, I called it an art scape and the scene that was designed by Wal Paraguay.

And again, we didn't quite have the technology to bring that about the way that we would have wanted to, which was, it was supposed to, you were supposed to go in and it was all white. And then all of a sudden it was going to be saturated with color. And that was. It's amazing to think that that wasn't possible back then, but it wasn't

[00:33:47] Lou Mongello: what they doing, you know, like on the Disney dream now sort of being able to make

[00:33:51] Tom K. Morris: that conversion.

And there's so many ways to do it now. But there weren't then, you know, it's the problem of when you throw too much colored light onto a scene, it turns white itself. You know, it's the basic principle of lighting. When you combine all the colors into one area, it turns white. And so so that scene, I think, could be, you know, even more spectacular today and the science scene, you know, as well, I think all, you know, certainly the end when that was the first like photo capture that had never been done or first video capture that had been done.

And it was so in its infancy back then, and it was also a little unreliable, you know, so sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't a lot of times you got the wrong. People in the car, you know, that were eaten before you or behind you. And it was grainy. And that could be, you know, done so well today.

So, you know, I think it's a matter of just improving each of the scenes, strengthening the takeaway message and, and then I would spend the money to take the cars upstairs and deliver you back into the image works. Yeah.

[00:35:03] Lou Mongello: As much as I know, people love that the DVC lounge up there, the image works for me as a kid who was a techie nerdy kid was one of my favorite overall parts of Epcot and simple rainbow tunnel where the pin table or the school of animation and the conducting with all those things were just mindblowing.

[00:35:26] Tom K. Morris: Yeah. You know, Barry Braverman and skip Lang were really the guys that pulled that together, along with the special effects team who were inventing things, you know like the bubble, I mean, everything was, was invented. You know, they were doing. The seed of them came from somewhere else, but then they were taken to a, another level.

Some of the stuff we had seen at the Exploratorium, like the pin screens, the pin tables, but they were, it was a small kind of a thing. I, as I recall, it was just like one small little table. So we, we made that bigger. The kaleidoscopes, I think, were just a brand new idea. The magic pallet was the, you know, I'd like to know a little bit more about the magic palette and how that came about because, you know, I didn't know it at the time, but that was the precursor to Photoshop and Adobe and all that.

And it had its problems, its share of problems initially with that wand and also people didn't understand. How to use it. So that was my second job on imagination was after it opened on October 1st, we immediately saw what was working and what was not working. And so, you know, there were a lot of instructional issues.

People didn't intuitively know what to do at the electronic Philharmonic or the magic pallet, a couple other things. And so I developed a graphic package, also directionally how to get. And also to reinforce the, the notion that there's still more with a magic eye theater. And so I worked a couple months on a graphic on doing the preliminary graphics and then sending those preliminaries after they were approved by operations and by Tony sending them over to the graphics department back in Glendale and then quickly installing them.

So that was, that was a punch list thing that I was doing between the time that the park and the general pavilion opened, but the ride was still down. And so we were still, you know, working on the attraction. Most of the attraction by that time, I think had been installed. But then there was a lot of programming and punch list things that needed to be done, but we were waiting for the ride system.

To become fully reliable. And that had been delayed because spaceship earth was having some issues. So all the team that was working on the ride vehicles and ride control for imagination, we're all working on spatial birth and trying to get back reliable. Cause it was, you know, they were having problems for the first several months, I guess.

And so a lot, you know, there was a lot going on and but that image works, you know, was great. And, and some of that, as I said, came from the Exploratorium and some of it was completely invented by the team. Barry, you know, Barry pretty much took the bull by the horns up there and the image works.

And then there was a company, as I recall at Maryland that actually fabricated all of those units, you know, the, the neon tunnel, which was. Huge, you know, issue. It seems simple, right? It's just money, but it's not inventing anything, but it was because there were two things the color was supposed to follow you.

And it did as long as one person at a time went through there. And that was really neat. But the other problem had to do with stuff that I don't understand, transformers and proximity and interference and frequency and all this stuff that was causing the transformers to have. You know, not blow up but not perform.

So that was a huge thing I remember, but it was there. We got it on opening day and I think you know, maybe, maybe some issues for the first couple, few weeks on it, but then it was more about the operation of it, you know, that they didn't want to post an operator and they shouldn't, you know? And that was one of the signs I had to develop that.

So, you know, explained while you're waiting in line, you wait one person at a time, you know, wait a few seconds and then go, well, not everyone reads nor should they, you know you don't want sign pollution. That was kind of the, the thing I was mindful of. It's like, okay, We need a lot of signs. So now let's be careful that, that this doesn't become sign land and make sure that figment or dream finder is on all of the, all of these instructionals, the one, the hardest one to do, because it, then it had to be incorporated into the screen that it was like a little tutorial, I guess that would come on to tell you how to do to how to work the magic palette, because that was just, people were completely lost and people would go up to it.

They get frustrated after 20 seconds. And so when I was explaining this, maybe it was the Joe Garlington or someone who might've been involved with its development. And I was telling them about coming up with the tutorial for it. They said, well, so you came up with the first. Tutorial, you know, Photoshop or you know, computer graphic tutorial.

I'm like, I haven't so little that you know, to do with that whole world. I'm still struggling with Photoshop, although I, you know, I have other kind of ways around it. Yeah, I'm not afraid of digital or anything, but it's like back then, I didn't know. That was all just voodoo. And so that was kind of funny.

So that was about three or four months worth of fine tuning punch, listing graphic observation also just like what, what is, you know, I would just stand up there and see and listen to what people were saying at each of the activities. And also, you know, I noticed near the escalator, they like, where do we go now?

You know, I don't know what are we supposed to do? And so that, that developed into the there's a marquee that, that says how many minutes left for the magic eye theater show to begin and a directional that kind of, you know seduces you to come over and go down the escalator because people couldn't find the escalator.

Well, and I don't blame them. I mean, you know, eh, it was, again, the time involved, there was really no time to do another generation of layout. For the pavilion. Everyone did a good job with what they had and and the, eventually the architect Domani grants, he was a very, very talented architect who had designed some of the Bullock's department stores, particularly one that I grew up with in, in orange county, at south coast Plaza that was pyramid shaped, a pyramid shaped bullocks or, you know, it had banked walls around it.

So he had kind of come pre-programmed knowing about angled buildings. And so he did the final you know, the final design on the pavilion and on the two crystals. And the idea for those two crystals came from, or the design for those two, two crystals came from Dan Gusseie, one of the, he w he was also on the initial project and he was a render.

A really good sketch artist, quick sketch artist and renderer. He had done some of the James Bond and star wars posters, movie posters. And we had started talking about some kind of crystal. To be the, to be the architecture for the imagination pavilion. And I remember submitting one that was kind of like a diamond set with a setting around it.

But Dan came up with the two pyramids that with a truncated top. And it was, you know, several years later that I learned that it was based on silver high-low halite silver halide crystals, which are the key ingredient to Kodak film, silver halide. Yeah. And so he did, he did that first sketch for it, and then he did that beautiful rendering.

And then I took that and did the preliminary architecture for, for those crystals and for the pavilion. And then from there, Domani grants did the final architecture. He's the architect on record.

[00:43:42] Lou Mongello: And I think one of the. Most continuously intriguing things about the pavilion was exactly what we were talking about was the image works upstairs was I think the first and maybe even still to this day, the best example of the words that are, that are used all the time now, but interaction emerging and personalization for the guests, which was clearly almost ahead of its time, because people didn't know what to do, but it is where we even now are going with the theme park experience........

(Continues next week)

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