fbpx
Skip to content

WDW Radio # 742 – 10 Questions: Innovations and Inspirations with Former Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Lively

Former Imagineer, writer, and Jungle Cruise Skipper Kevin Lively joins me again this week to share the secrets behind creating unforgettable experiences in the Disney Parks, as he shares fascinating stories and insights as he answers my 10 questions about attractions, backstories, history, and nostalgia, technology, and what’s next for the Disney theme park experience.

“Adapt, embrace what has already been accepted, and make it even better.” – Kevin Lively

Innovations and Inspirations with Former Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Lively

Do you want to gain valuable insights into how to balance nostalgia and innovation in Disney parks? Former Imagineer Kevin Lively shares his expertise on how to achieve that perfect blend of cherished nostalgia and groundbreaking innovation in the world of Disney. Get ready to discover the secret behind creating unforgettable experiences that capture the essence of the past while embracing the possibilities of the future.

With a rich repertoire of acclaimed Disney attractions like the the 2020 refresh of the Jungle Cruise, Hyperspace Mountain, Jingle Cruise, Jungle Navigation Company Ltd. Skipper Canteen, the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (the S.E.A.), Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree, and the upcoming Zootopia Land in Shanghai under his belt, Kevin Lively has a long history in the world of Disney Parks storytelling. Starting out as a Disneyland cast member, Kevin worked his way up to Imagineering where he began designing narratives for Disney attractions. Capable of marrying the charm of nostalgia with a sense of modernity, Kevin is known for crafting narratives that remain timeless in their appeal.

  • Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Disney Imagineering with Kevin Lively.
  • Discover how to strike the perfect balance between retaining nostalgia and forging innovation in amusement attractions.
  • Uncover the significant role of storytelling and character creation in creating unforgettable experiences.
  • Gain behind-the-scenes knowledge of devising special overlays and music for holiday rides.
  • Explore forthcoming advancements in theme park technology and the future direction of park experiences.

You can learn more about Kevin and his work on his website at kevinlively.com, on Instagram @Livelyland, and Check out his art @skipperkevinart

The key moments in this episode are:

[00:00:00] – Introduction,

[00:02:35] – Kevin’s Work at Disney,

[00:04:30] – El CapiTOON Theater Queue,

[00:09:28] – Haunted Mansion Projects,

[00:10:44] – Balancing Nostalgia and Innovation,

[00:15:04] – Introducing the Characters of the Haunted Mansion,

[00:16:42] – Creating Backstories for Haunted Mansion Characters,

[00:18:10] – Crafting a Backstory for Alberta Falls,

[00:19:41] – Designing for Different Audiences,

[00:28:58] – Recording with Disney for the Holidays,

[00:30:02] – Introspective Pride and Sharing with Family,

[00:33:12] – Balancing Technology and Classic Attractions,

[00:35:43] – Embracing Technology for Storytelling,

[00:39:32] – Walt’s Legacy and Nostalgia,

[00:43:59] – The Power of Silly Ideas,

[00:44:58] – The Unfinished Project,

[00:45:45] – Impostor Syndrome,

[00:47:20] – Personal Connection to Zootopia,

[00:51:47] – The Future of Theme Parks,

[00:59:00] – Introduction and Side Hustle,

[00:59:51] – Lightning Round,

[01:00:26] – Best Restaurant and Food,

[01:00:52] – Favorite Character and Dream Disney Trip,

[01:01:55] – Next Show Idea,

Timestamped summary of this episode:

[00:00:00] – Introduction,
Lou welcomes Kevin Lively back to the show to share more stories and insights from his time with Disney.

[00:02:35] – Kevin’s Work at Disney,
Kevin shares a brief overview of his work at Disney, including his role as a writer for attractions like the Jungle Cruise and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

[00:04:30] – El CapiTOON Theater Queue,
Kevin discusses the ideation process and placemaking for the El CapiTOON Theater queue at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Disneyland, which pays tribute to Mickey’s career through the years.

[00:09:28] – Haunted Mansion Projects,
Kevin talks about his involvement in Haunted Mansion projects, including the 50th anniversary celebration and the collaboration with the Muppets for Muppets Haunted Mansion. He emphasizes the balance of preserving the attraction’s history while introducing new elements.

[00:10:44] – Balancing Nostalgia and Innovation,
Kevin explains the challenge of balancing nostalgia and innovation when working on classic attractions like the Haunted Mansion. He emphasizes the importance of respecting the original while also keeping the attraction relevant for new generations.

[00:15:04] – Introducing the Characters of the Haunted Mansion,
Professor Phineas Plump and Gus are two characters in the Haunted Mansion. The decision to name them was made by Kevin Lively, who worked with other imagineers familiar with the attraction. They wanted to respect and embrace the names that fans had already given the characters.

[00:16:42] – Creating Backstories for Haunted Mansion Characters,
Fans had given the characters of the Haunted Mansion last names, such as Phineas Pac. Kevin Lively explained that there was a lot of fan-created content related to the attraction, but no one was monitoring it. They had to make a decision on the name for the tightrope walker character and went with Sally Slater.

[00:18:10] – Crafting a Backstory for Alberta Falls,
Kevin Lively explained that the elaborate backstory for Alberta Falls, the proprietor of the Jungle Navigation Company Limited, came out of necessity. They needed to create a different vibe and empower different types of characters in Adventureland. Alberta is the rambunctious child of Dr. Albert Falls, raised by Jungle Cruise Skippers, and represents the unconventional family theme of the Skipper Canteen.

[00:19:41] – Designing for Different Audiences,
When creating a backstory, Kevin Lively considers three different audiences: the casual visitors who just want to enjoy the attraction, those who are aware of the story and its connections, and the hardcore geeks who dig deep into the details. Designing for all three groups ensures

[00:28:58] – Recording with Disney for the Holidays,
The guest discusses his experience recording songs for Disney and the excitement of getting the green light for the holidays. He shares his travels to Nebraska and New York and recalls the bitter cold weather. Despite his children not fully understanding his work, he plays the songs for them.

[00:30:02] – Introspective Pride and Sharing with Family,
The guest talks about wanting to show his kids the importance of his work and the challenge of getting them interested. His youngest is starting to show curiosity through YouTube videos, while his oldest remains uninterested. He hopes that someday they will appreciate his work.

[00:33:12] – Balancing Technology and Classic Attractions,
The guest discusses the balance between incorporating cutting-edge technology and preserving the timeless charm of classic attractions. He mentions the importance of tangible figures and audio animatronics, while also acknowledging the use of screens when done in the right way. He emphasizes the need for seamless integration of different technologies.

[00:35:43] – Embracing Technology for Storytelling,
The guest highlights the importance of using technology to enhance storytelling rather than using it for its own sake. He gives examples of how technology can bring characters to life, such as Stuntronics and projection mapping. He encourages embracing technology while being smart with its implementation.

[00:39:32] – Walt’s Legacy and Nostalgia,
The guest reflects on Walt Disney’s legacy and how it influences his work. He imagines Walt’s

[00:43:59] – The Power of Silly Ideas,
Kevin shares how his silly ideas in meetings sparked creativity and led to unexpected attractions.

[00:44:58] – The Unfinished Project,
Kevin reveals his excitement about a project that was close to fruition before COVID-19 hit but unfortunately didn’t come to fruition. He expresses his passion and disappointment.

[00:45:45] – Impostor Syndrome,
Kevin discusses the lingering feeling of impostor syndrome and how he realized his value as a creative contributor during a meeting with his colleagues.

[00:47:20] – Personal Connection to Zootopia,
Kevin shares his deep personal connection to the Zootopia project in Shanghai. He describes the process of starting from scratch and the anticipation for its opening.

[00:51:47] – The Future of Theme Parks,
Kevin discusses the future of theme park experiences, emphasizing the importance of personalization, interactivity, and technology. He highlights the rebound of the industry and the potential for new and exciting developments.

[00:59:00] – Introduction and Side Hustle,
Kevin Lively discusses his side hustle of selling paintings, prints, and stickers that funds itself.

[00:59:51] – Lightning Round,
Kevin answers rapid-fire Disney-related questions, including his favorite Disney park and attraction worldwide.

[01:00:26] – Best Restaurant and Food,
Kevin shares his favorite restaurant, Skipper Canteen, and the best dessert, the Kungaloosh.

[01:00:52] – Favorite Character and Dream Disney Trip,
Kevin reveals his favorite character, Goofy, and discusses his dream trip with Walt Disney, mentioning Tokyo Disney Sea and other Disney properties.

[01:01:55] – Next Show Idea,
The host and Kevin plan to do a movie review of A Goofy Movie in the next episode.

Role of storytelling and characters

At the heart of every Disney park lies the powerful tool of storytelling, paired with an enchanting cast of characters. Stories offer a unique lens to view the world, igniting imaginations and stirring emotions, while characters provide a relatable, engaging element. Kevin emphasizes this as the essence of Disney Imagineering, proving that storytelling and character development continue to be instrumental in delivering memorable experiences.

  • Check out the original El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, operated by Disney, for a unique movie-going experience.
  • Watch Mickey’s Runaway Railway in Disneyland and experience the new El Capitune Theater queue.
  • Explore the history of Mickey Mouse through the years at the El Capitune Theater queue.
  • Discover the different sections of Mickey’s career, from the old rubber hose arms to the newer animation styles.
  • Visit the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and Walt Disney World to experience the classic attraction.
  • Watch Muppets Haunted Mansion on Disney+ for a fun and spooky original series.
  • Stay updated on the latest changes and updates to the Haunted Mansion, while still honoring its original intent.
  • Learn about the official names of the Hitchhiking Ghosts at the Haunted Mansion and their backstories: Professor Phineas Plump, Ezra Bean, and little Gus.

Episode Transcript

Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

00:00:23 - Lou Mongello
Back on show 631 in April of 2021, I had a chance to sit down with former Walt Disney Imagineer Jungle Cruise, Skipper writer and raconteur Kevin Lively. And while we discussed his work on NN, the dangerous jungle rivers, as well as the 2020 refresh of the Jungle Cruise, we also talked about Hyperspace Mountain, the Jingle Cruise, the Jungle Navigation Company, Skipper Canteen, the Sea Mater's, junk graveyard jamboree the upcoming Zootopia Land in Shanghai, managing stories for the Disney Park's, original content like for Pirates and Mansion, for film and TV and games and publishing and his presentation at the 2019 D 23 Expo about the Haunted Mansion's 50th anniversary. There wasn't enough time to cover all of his roles, work, achievement, and insights. And so, after years of careful negotiation with his team of agents or just trying to sync our schedules, Kevin is back to share more stories and insights from his time with Disney. So please join me in welcoming back to the Wwrado Virtual Studios mr. Kevin Lively.

00:01:38 - Kevin Lively
That's right. What the world has been waiting for. 45 minutes of me talking about the license plates from Autopia.

00:01:47 - Lou Mongello
Listen, I'm sure you could make the license plates from Autopia a fascinating conversation and all the history and story and references that are in there, but we ran out of time the last time that we spoke, and I've really wanted to have you back on since. And with more than two years for me to plan, prepare, and research it's, the recovering attorney in me, I've prepared ten count them, ten questions to delight, amaze, and possibly surprise you, or really just have us touch on things that we left unanswered the last time we spoke. Talk more about some of the projects you worked on, how you approach storytelling, and some of the other things that you've worked on as well.

00:02:30 - Kevin Lively
Let's hope my memory kicks in.

00:02:33 - Lou Mongello
I'm getting old. All right, so question one. Let's start simple and somewhat timely because you were a writer. So wait, let's do this quickly for somebody who maybe didn't hear our past episode. Give me the Reader's Digest condensed version of Kevin Lively and your work.

00:02:52 - Kevin Lively
Yeah, I started at the resort when I was going to Cal State Fullerton. I worked on attractions as a cast member. Like Indiana Jones adventure, Disneyland, the first 50 Magical Years, starring Steve Martin and Donald Duck. There was Main Street vehicles, Tiki Room and Jungle Cruise. And Jungle Cruise is where I kind of made a name for myself. They sent me to Tokyo to represent Disneyland's Jungle Cruise for a big gathering of Skippers. From there, I kind of got the attention of imagineering people like Chris Guzman and Kevin Lively, who kind of became my mentors, to kind of push me into imaginary. Finally, when I landed there, I started in what was called the Blue Sky Department, working on things, just really out of the blue things. One of ones actually came to fruition, was like a venture trading company and worked on things. I pitched a jingle cruise. It's another one of my first projects. And then was working there for about a decade as a consultant, as a green badge, a contractor, part time, full time, just working my way up. And yeah, I think you recapped a good chunk of the things I worked on that actually came to fruition.

00:04:05 - Lou Mongello
Well, and the first question I have is about one of those things. And I figured we'll start simple, Kevin, and then we'll get more in depth from there because you were a writer on Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway in Disneyland, which opened earlier this year. And while the attraction for all intents and purposes is, from what I understand, pretty much the same, the queue is vastly different. And I had an opportunity to preview and walk through the queue before it opened and loved this concept of it being a museum dedicated to the quote unquote, real life Mickey Mouse. Talk to me a little bit about the ideation process as well as the backstory and the placemaking for the El CapiTOON Theater queue, which is really part of this overall refresh of Mickey's toontown, which again, you obviously had as well.

00:05:00 - Kevin Lively
When they wanted to move or clone Mickey Minnie's Runaway Railway for Disneyland, they knew they needed a different facade because Hollywood studios, you're going into the Chinese theater and you magically go through the screen. Well, we kind of have to adjust that because you're going from one cartoon land into another cartoon land. And so Kevin Lively started off with a project and he figured out the El Capitune Theater, which is a tribute to the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, which is like a really cool movie house that's operated by Disney. And they have an organ player before each movie. And any old new Disney release, if you're ever in town, definitely check out the original El Capitan theater. So he came out with that idea, said that's going to be the name of the theater, and he also had the idea for Mickey through the ears. And everything after that was kind of like handed to me, dropped off on my desk. And so I worked with our different creative directors and our graphics design team, props and everybody to help figure out how we bring this Mickey's career into existence. So the first step was trying to break down those different sections of Mickey's career from the old rubber hose arms all the way and touching upon things, which is something we once tried to do in toontown in general. Because if you look at toontown, which opened in 1993, it was built by people who had a nostalgic version of Mickey. That's way different from my nostalgic version of mickey because I was born in 1985. And so we're going to have different views. So when it came to nostalgia within Mickey through the years, our team were like, oh, yeah, we got to do disco Mickey Mouse. We got to do mouser size, we got to do Mickey's Christmas Carol because that's the Mickey we grew up with. But also realizing that there's going to be more generations after us who are going to remember Mickey Mouse clubhouse roadster, racers and even the newer animation styles. So how do we break all those down? That was part of the exhibit and then the rest of it was really filling in the history of the El CapiTOON and how it fit into Toontown as a whole. So who started it? We added historical plaques. We wanted to give personality to the ticket taker even though she's not there, and how do we tie in as many Easter eggs and then going back to our generation designing an attraction? A big part of our childhoods was a Goofy Movie with Max and Goofy and Powerline and all that. So it became one of our goals to try to sneak in as many Goofy Movie references as possible only for our own humor. And it really helped that Allie, our graphic designer, is as big as Goofy, Goofy fan as I am. So she was my tag team partner in trying to get in power lines and pictures of little girl from Lester's Possum Park and stuff into there.

00:07:42 - Lou Mongello
I will confess and please don't hang up on me when I say this, I still have not seen a movie.

00:07:49 - Kevin Lively
On Instagram every single time. You need to watch it alone. For Lester's Possum Park. Like, that alone is worth your time. As a Disney Parks fan who's been to the Country Bear Jamboree, how many times you need to watch Lester's Possum Park?

00:08:07 - Lou Mongello
And it's not the original Goofy Movie that's going to make me sob uncontrollably about both my kids being off in college now. It's the second one.

00:08:17 - Kevin Lively
I'm going to give you a waiver. You don't even have to watch the college one, okay?

00:08:24 - Lou Mongello
I'm very fragile right now, Kevin. I'm not sure I could handle that. But Goofy Movie is something that is very much on my get a pint.

00:08:32 - Kevin Lively
Of Haagen Daws and your comfy blanket and sit and watch a movie about the relationship of father and son and letting go and letting them grow up.

00:08:42 - Lou Mongello
But.

00:08:42 - Kevin Lively
It's Goofy. That's the weird, you know, hyuk.

00:08:46 - Lou Mongello
Right?

00:08:46 - Kevin Lively
But he's a dad, too. It's great.

00:08:50 - Lou Mongello
Well, and I'm more interested because we're seeing references to Goofy and Powerline and Max in the parks and it sort of goes back to this touching on different generational senses of nostalgia that as we talk about some of the other projects you work on, I think this is going to come up. So that actually will lead me. Let's sort of stay in the parks and sort of lead into the second question topic that I want to talk to you about, which is my favorite and I'm not alone, and it's the Haunted Mansion. And you've had your hands in Haunted Mansion projects over the years in a number of different ways. You were a co producer and presenter for the Haunted Mansion's 50th anniversary, sort of bringing that attraction to life for fans, especially at D 23 Expo 2019. You worked with not just incorporating attraction tributes, but with a team of a cast of characters on Muppets Haunted Mansion, which is one of the best things, I think it's one of the best original series, best original shows created for Disney plus period. And the mansion now here in Walt Disney World is getting a new resident soon. And one of the things I wanted to sort of really touch on when it comes to Haunted Mansion is this balance of a classic, beloved attraction with history and nostalgia and yet introducing something new. You said in your D 23, and I've heard you say this before, that the Haunted Mansion stays true to Walt Disney's intent of being grim and grinning, but it also needs to be sort of updated and touched on and refreshed for not just longtime fans, but new fans. How do you sort of balance what could sometimes be two different and maybe even diametrically opposed sides of the coin?

00:10:53 - Kevin Lively
I mean, anytime you need to touch upon a legacy attraction, there is a weird balance to walk. Luckily, I've always been surrounded by other fans, other nerds geeks who have the same appreciation for what we're touching and the respect. And so you have to trust, like Daniel Joseph are the special effects genius over at Imagineering, like Haunted Mansion is his third child. He loves that attraction. And so I know anything that if I were to trust anybody to ever touch that attraction, it would be him. Just because his care and respect for the history and for what it is, just because how impactful it was in his life, he's going to make the right decisions and work in however way he can. But at the same time, you have to make sure you got to keep moving forward. Disneyland's not a museum. Walt Disney World's not a museum. And so anytime touching a piece of somebody's nostalgia might strike a nerve and it's tough. But you have to remember that even their version of the perfect Haunted Mansion might not be the original. It's always something to keep in unless you were there 1969 or 1971 for openings of the original. It's probably not the original that you fell in love with. So things will change along the way. And so as you're working on projects like this, you have to just make sure you think, you know, you're doing the right thing in every decision, taking into account what it is, how important it is for people. At least that's how I always approached it like when it came to things like jungle, when it came to things like mansion, like, a good example is when we were doing the haunted mansion ghost, we were doing a whole radio show component to it. And it featured the Hitchhiking ghost who prior to that had no official Disney name. Ezra, Phineas and Gus were fan driven, whether it be from cast members or guests. I think it was created by cast members, but it kind of just with the internet just ballooned into something that people just accepted as part of haunted mansion canon. But I dove in, man, to every single documentation, no mention of those names anywhere. And so when it came time to do this radio show, we couldn't write the script to say, hey, Hitchhiking ghost number one, what do you think about this? Gee, hitchhiking ghost number two. I'm not sure. We actually had to put the names down on paper and make things official. I mean, we could have easily said no, we're imagineers we know what's right, forget what's been done. We're going to call them Steve and Jay and Winklebottom. But no, it's like there's already an affinity for these names, so how can we embrace what has already been accepted from the community and embellish it more? And so we took the Ezra, the Phineas, and the Gus, and we gave two of them last names. So we have Professor Phineas Plump, ezra Bean. And I wrote really simple backstories to them when I was writing. I never wanted to paint myself into a corner unless it was like, for a really big moment, don't overwrite just for the sake of overriding it. Leave yourself some wiggle room to play with in the future. So for Ezra, he was a vagabond. He was like the guy riding the rails and stealing apple pies off this hill. Phineas Plump was a with his carpet bag, was a elixir salesman, like a snake oil salesman. And then little Gus, obviously that guy could never commit a crime, right? So he was like to 18, and he was sentenced for a crime he didn't commit. And that's where we left it. But we infused those names, and it wasn't like I was super nervous about trying to figure out what those names were. So what I did is I played with the Mark Davis type of convention, a little bit of ex, intensio, naming and also kind of the overall Disney feel. And so looked at Ezra, he's tall and skinny like a green bean. There's his last name, bean. Professor Phineas Plump. You know, puff p. Sounds good. He's plump, he's short. And then Gus is just Gus. And so rather than me, like, stamping going, I'm Kevin. I'm the ultimate authority on this. I worked with Tom Fitzgerald, who again, another imagineer who has haunted mansion in his blood and worked with Bob Weiss, another guy with haunted mansion in his blood. And we held hands together and we said, this is the right decision to name these characters. So always take into account what is already there. Respect it, use it, adapt, know, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater just for the sake of your own ego.

00:15:41 - Lou Mongello
Well, I love that you embraced this fan cast member created legacy and lore of those names and not just sort of saying, we're going to do it this way. We're not going to sort of take it out, because I think when those were sort of made official, it gave sort of the warm and fuzzies to haunted mansion fans. Like, this is what we've been calling them all along. You, Disney, have embraced you're paying attention to what the fans are saying, and you, being a fan first, are like, yeah, we need to not only acknowledge it, but actually embrace it. Quick question. Wasn't there also didn't fans start giving them last names? Wasn't like Phineas Pac, like, one of the names that sort of was making.

00:16:24 - Kevin Lively
Its way around the Internet, phineas Pac within the mansion, I think it's on a there there was so much fan or it's not fan driven, but, like, officially created Disney content. But before I showed up on the scene, there wasn't anybody monitoring it. It was almost a free for all, like free IP. All right, let me make some books, make some action figures. Let me go to the Internet to find this name, because reaching out to imagineering is too hard, I guess. And so the trickiest one was the tightrope walker, because she had so many different names from comic books, from live entertainment events, from graphic novels, things like that. And so we just had to pull the trigger on one of them. And so we went with Sally Slater, sarah Sally Slater again, eaten by an alligator. So I wanted to fit like that. You could see that on a tombstone, right, here lies Sally Slater. It's eaten by an alligator. Yeah. Luckily, Madame Leota was already written for.

00:17:30 - Lou Mongello
Of. This was one of the other things I wanted to talk to you about, because in addition to know the dead to life and even doing things like an interview with the hat box ghost for the Disney Parks blog, creating backstories is part of the storytelling. You can't sort of tell the forward story without sort of establishing the backstory first. And you crafted a very elaborate and detailed backstory for Alberta Falls, the granddaughter of the world renowned Dr. Albert Falls, as the proprietor of the Jungle Navigation Company Limited. Talk to me a little bit about that.

00:18:12 - Kevin Lively
Right?

00:18:12 - Lou Mongello
So now you sort of have to craft a backstory for really what is a brand new character, explain to the process and the preparation and the pressure. Right. I have to imagine there's pressure because you not just have this legacy of an attraction and storytelling to uphold, but you are writing what is going to become canon for literally generations to come.

00:18:37 - Kevin Lively
I overwrote that. No, that actually came from necessity. I was technically the third writer on Skipper Canteen, though the first two writers only lasted about a week, respectively. They left Disney for other things, I think. And so when it landed, to me, it was during Skipper Canteen, and they wanted to have the SCA Room. And they're like, oh, yeah, we're going to have Albert Falls. And I'm trying to remember the specifics. It's been years, but the way that they're like, oh, yeah, he was a member of the SCA in 1899. I'm like. Okay, well, Skipper Canteen Jungle Cruise takes place about 1938. So mathematically, this guy would have been old as dirt. And so it was actually out of necessity, we're like, well, we need to kind of create a different type of vibe. There's also, like, this feeling of too much of the white colonialism throughout Adventureland. So how do we mix that up? How do we empower different types of characters to inspire guests? And so we created, you know, originally looking at it, you know, we could do his son, we could do his daughter, but let's skip a generation. It kind of gives us a clean slate on how to play with everything. So Alberta was the rambunctious child of Albert Jr. And his wife, and it was kind of inspired by the young Indiana Jones adventure, where they were making him travel around the world, but he was always getting in trouble. But what if she could have stayed behind with her eccentric explorer grandfather, Dr. Albert Falls, and being raised by Skippers? The overarching theme of the Skipper Canteen is the unconventional family. Because when you work Jungle Cruise, these are the people you're with. Morning nights, hot days, rainy days, holidays. You're in it with them, and they kind of become like a work family. You hear stories of when the parks closed on 911, all the Skippers went over to another Skipper's apartment, and they were together. That's how they remember the whole thing, because a lot of times, it's a lot of college kids, people away from their families to begin with. So there's a whole family type atmosphere at the Jungle Cruise already. So how do we embrace that? So family isn't just mom, dad, 2.5 kids. It's whoever is closest to you, whoever's most important to you. So if she's living with her grandfather, grandfather is often adventurous, who's there to raise her? Well, the coolest people ever to be raised by would be Jungle Cruise Skippers. And so when you do that, you open up this whole mutual appreciation for somebody who's eventually going to be running the company. She's going to love the Skippers that are going to love her, and it kind of works. And when we have the SCA Room at the Skipper Canteen, it's open for business. I could walk in from Adventureland. I'm on safari. I can say party or two, and they can put me in the secret society meeting, like, well, I guess she's not a member because if she was a member of the Be, that bookcase would be closed, right? But no, she's kind of over it. She's a skipper. She's not a member of the SCA. She's not a member of the Adventures Club. She knows members of them, but she's a skipper at heart. So let's go and open that up. We need capacity. Anyways, it's kind of the jungle feeling when we were able to update Jungle Cruise, as I mentioned before, kept the story kind of light because I never wanted to paint myself into a corner if we ever had to pivot later on down the road. So when we came up to the refresh for Jungle Cruise, I was able to dive into that story more. And in doing that, it helped tie the dock and the Skipper canteen together. And also it kind of helped unify the two crews, two lines of business that normally wouldn't even speak to each other. They now also have kind of like a work family going on. And from my understanding, they're still doing like, work competitions and stuff like that, where they give each other tours of the locations. And there's a nice bond going on.

00:22:38 - Lou Mongello
When you are putting this backstory together, are you thinking in terms of not just creating something that is going to be enjoyed by people for years to come? But you are. It's like when you're creating canon, like in a comic book character or in a movie character, and as a fan and as an imagine, you know, the passionate way that these stories and the importance that people put to these stories and continuity and the integrity of the characters. Do you think about when you're doing that? Or does it maybe hit you later on and you go and you see it in the parks and guests are enjoying it, and you're like, yeah, I had a hand in making something that's going to be here for a long.

00:23:27 - Kevin Lively
Okay, so I'm going to attack this two different ways. The first way is when you're in the process of doing it, you know, that's going to be a thing. As I always tell people, even in projects I'm working on now, I'm like, listen, every single person who's going to be going to your experience is going to have a pocket computer with a camera on it with access to everybody else in the world. So they're going to notice little loose ends that aren't tied correctly, but they're also going to appreciate connections that aren't even necessarily need to be there. But when you're designing, you want to make sure you're designing for three different audiences. This is a little bit about how the sausage is made. So you're going to be writing for way to look at it is the swimmers I'm sorry, the waiters, the swimmers and the divers. All right? So you have the people there who are the waiters. So these are people just dipping their toe. Maybe it's the family from Utah and they're visiting Disneyland every five years, and they're going to go on Jungle Cruise, and they're going to see some animals, hear some jokes, and they're going to have a great time. All right, then you have the swimmers. These are people who kind of know that there's a story going on, right? So maybe they're going through and they hear the name Alberta. They're like, oh, that's like on our board game we picked up at Target. So I recognize that name. And then you have the hardcore geeks like you and me who are going to get off the Jungle Cruise, go into the tropical hideaway, and see the paddles from the SCA members and go, oh, see, this is connected to Tokyo Disney Sea. This one's connected to Disney Cruise line. And then you're going to tell all your friends until they go crazy. So you're going to make sure you're designing for all three of those audiences, because if you're designing for just one, it's not going to work because you're going to alienate you're either going to alienate the super geeks or you're going to alienate the family that visits once every five years. And so you want to make sure you're covering all those bases. Now, I think the weirdest moment when I was walking through our neighborhood Target, going back to that board game and flipping it over and seeing mean, I helped. I helped on that game in the early stages, but just seeing it out in the wild at the Target where I get my groceries was pretty trippy. So it's pretty cool to know that know where Alberta goes next. Who knows? I trust she's being taken care of.

00:25:37 - Lou Mongello
All right, as a quick sort of side extension of this and the things that you do that exist in the parks, in addition to writing stories and scripts, you also mentioned that you write songs. And I want you to briefly elaborate, but also, please be sure to include the fact that you were inspired by and maybe were, dare I say, influenced by the legendary songwriter. One Mr. Weird.

00:26:14 - Kevin Lively
Al Yankovic was my hero growing up. He's still one of my heroes today. That dude is awesome. But when it came time to do music for Luigi and Mater for Halloween and the holidays, Kevin Lively was busy. And so, like all his other work, it kind of landed on my desk. I guess I was like, next in line, next man up is the other Kevin in a Hawaiian shirt who does puns. And so I absorbed a lot of his workload when he moved on to different things. And so I worked with Pixar, worked with they brought in another writer who I think worked on Grammy Award winning songs. And after one session, he's like, yeah, you guys don't need me. And I'm like, all right, that's cool. And so it was me and Roger up at Pixar and your Own, who's, one of the music guys at Imagineering, and just kind of hammering out because we already had music going existing for year round. And when it comes to things like Luigi's, that's written at a very specific tempo or rhythm, that's set for the cars to dance. So going in there and trying to figure that out, we didn't have money to go through and do a whole new choreography for the dance. So we're going to stick with that and just write new lyrics to that. And the same goes for Mater's junkyard jamboree. It's a lot easier for us to go in there with Disney owned music, tweak the lyrics for that, but they did allow us a little bit of allowance to do things like Monster Truck. I remember I was driving home and I'm like, I was making a list of different potential titles. I want to do a version of Thriller called Trailer. It's the trailer of the night because it's always behind you. Yeah, that one, I think, was going to end up being way too much money for those rights. I also wanted to do it's a dead end party. Like a little oingo boingo. That would have been cool. But yeah. So we hammered them out. We worked with the music guy, I think he's out in Nashville, who updated all the music, adding all the spooky theramid and stuff for Halloween. And then we got the green light to yeah, we got the green light to do the Christmas stuff after we recorded Mater and Luigi. So I flew out to Nebraska to work with Larry the cable Guy, then immediately flew to New York for Tony Shalup. And it was like he was starting rehearsals for a new show called The Marvelous Miss Maisel. That's where in the timeline it was. But yeah, working with those guys, they love their character. It was really great to record with them. And immediately we got green light for the holidays. So we did the same process all over again. Did I freeze and am I still going? Okay, cool. And then I flew out to Nebraska again and out to New York again. It was much colder this time. Do I remember the first time I flew out to Nebraska? I'm like, oh, cool. I heard like, the Midwest has awesome Halloween haunts, but it was so windy and so cold. And after flying, I always liked to walk around. That's why I always went to Epcot when I had to fly out to Florida for business trips. But it was just like it was so bitter cold. I ended up going into their mall and walking around just to stretch my legs. And I bought a Nebraska beanie that I still have just because it was so cold and windy. But yeah, it was really cool to be able to work on those. Songs and they're still playing in the parks. And you can listen to them, like on Apple Music and Spotify, which is pretty weird. And then I play it for my kids. Why are we listening to this? I'm like, because I wrote it.

00:30:02 - Lou Mongello
I was going to ask you, do you go to the parks whether it's listening to the music and say you sort of have this quiet introspective moment of pride, like, I made this, but also want to show friends, family, especially kids, right? You want to show your kids like, this is what dad made. Like, this is playing in the park, and I want this to be as important for you.

00:30:24 - Kevin Lively
They didn't get it. I used to have to make up stories like I had meeting with Doc McStuffins today just to make them interested. Now they're ten and twelve, but in the early days, I've been doing it their whole life. And so like, yeah, I'm working on this. No, you're not. Still today. Yeah, I'm working on no, you're not. Okay, fine.

00:30:49 - Lou Mongello
Years from now they're going to think you're the coolest dad in the world right now. They just probably don't understand.

00:30:53 - Kevin Lively
No, my youngest, though, with YouTube and everything, showing her different walkthroughs of parks around the world, we don't go to a lot of amusement parks just because the hustle and bustle and them not even willing to go on a roller coaster. But my youngest one, after seeing videos of different people visiting parks, her curiosity is starting to she would go, okay, I'd go on that one. Okay, cool. So writing down notes of where I can take her to try to get her on some rides. But my oldest, no interest at all. She's a chicken.

00:31:26 - Lou Mongello
Yeah, someday they will. But we've been talking about this sense and balance of nostalgia and classic attractions and new experiences as technology continues to advance and theme parks are starting to incorporate more immersive elements. How do you sort of take that balance slightly from a different direction? Balancing this integration of cutting edge technology while also preserving this timeless charm and storytelling of classic attractions, which again, these are both rooted in Disney, right? Disney has always been sort of on the forefront of technology and also sort of embracing classic story.

00:32:17 - Kevin Lively
It's a weird line to walk because there's some amazingly cool stuff you can do with screens in trying to use the next best technology. That was something Walt was always about. So there's no doubt in my mind that audio animatronics are awesome. And it's always great to see actual tangible things moving. And I think the fans, that's what they want. I think that's part of it is seeing the tangible. Because I can go to a movie theater and I could watch something on a screen, I can go at home, I can put something on a screen and watch it. But it's seeing those figures, especially with how amazing figures can get with, like, the Navi shaman, the Mr. Lincoln figure and his expressions and the way they're able to animate that. I hope that never goes away. And I know there will be more figures in the future that people will be pretty stoked about. But you also want to make sure you're embracing and using things, because media can be updated, which is a nice luxury. Replacing an auto animatronic is a different story, but media can be updated. And I think it's also a matter of using it in the right way. If you're using a screen just to show off how cool your screen is, you're not using it correctly if you're using it because that's the best way to make it look like a portal inside a spaceship on Star Tours. Yes, I think that's a perfect example. And then having that physical C three PO or Captain Rex in front of the screen only helps to blur the lines. There's clever ways of designing shrouding, framing your screen to make it seem a little bit more seamless. And so I think if you use it properly, there's nothing wrong with screens. But also, what's next? What's going to be beyond that? What are different ways of using that screen? What are other things that can help you blur the line? Is it you? Maybe it's a pixie dust curtain that magically floats away. Maybe it's projecting on water, dancing like they have now at know really great technology that's always emerging. And I think that's the secret sauce is you're combining all these different texts where you make it so complex that it becomes seamless. And that's the goal. I mean, look at things like Pirates of the Caribbean and Shanghai. I don't think anybody walks off of that and goes, too many screens just because it's so from what I've been told, it's really cool. Yeah, it's just a matter of, I think, using it right. But at the end of the day, the Audi Animatronics ain't broke. They're just really expensive, so that's why they're trying to fix it.

00:34:53 - Lou Mongello
Well, and I think, to your point, there's something about using technology for technology sake, as I have seen done elsewhere, like, oh, there's something really cool, let's just put it in, we'll build a story around it as opposed to the technology enhances the story, not vice versa.

00:35:12 - Kevin Lively
Yeah, look at Stuntronics is, I think, a really cool example. There's no way having a human do that. How many times a day is feasible or safe? But having Stuntronics, being able to bring Spider Man to life like that super rad. Now, if you are going to use that for technology's sake and just make it like a bellhop at the Tower of Terror who swings out just because it would just confuse people. And so make sure you're using it in the proper way.

00:35:40 - Lou Mongello
Well, I think that's look at my background, right? I'm a huge Spider Man fan, but I'm not the only one. You see this character as part of a story that is being told, utilize this technology that you hear some people say, well, that has to be a real person. There's no way this could be something that was made by man. You forget that you're sort of looking at the technology because you're so enamored with the story and the action that's sort of happening around you.

00:36:10 - Kevin Lively
Tokyo's Jungle Cruise uses projection mapping in a beautiful way. If you've ever watch a YouTube video of that, where you walk in and the temples falling apart, but then a magical spirit brings everything back to, like, mint condition right before your eyes. But then you leave the temple and you're surrounded by elephants. And so it's that combining. So you want to have a balance in there. But yeah, don't be afraid of technology. Embrace it. Just be smart with it.

00:36:36 - Lou Mongello
I think about places like Mystic Manor, right, where the story and the characters and the music and everything else is sort of the foundation and the thing that I love and why I think Mystic Manor is arguably one of, if not the overall best attraction anywhere. But it's the technology that's sort of sprinkled on top of it that sort of just makes the experience that much better.

00:37:00 - Kevin Lively
Yeah. It's funny, though. People are like, oh, too many screens. But then you go. Remember? Circle. Vision. Those were the days.

00:37:09 - Lou Mongello
But I think sometimes we go other places that shall remain relatively nameless. But you can sort of that there's a lot of black boxes and there's a lot of screens, and it sort of feels like the same thing over and over again because they've got this technology that they just want to leverage as much as they can. But the stories don't carry the technology itself. Right. The technology sort of can't live on itself just because the first time you see it, it's pretty cool.

00:37:36 - Kevin Lively
Yeah. But they're also doing amazing things, like on the motorcycle roller coaster of the park. I shall remain nameless. They have the beautiful figure of the larger than life man with a beard whose copyright we shall not infringe upon even having those simple figures of unicorns. And things can come to life. So I think it's a matter of finding the best avenue, but also for things they're doing. Is there an easier way to bring the non copyright infringing? Yellow jelly bean men to life? I mean, they're so animated and that might be the best avenue or the best medium for that storytelling.

00:38:18 - Lou Mongello
Well, and you mentioned his name more than once, which is one of the things that I love and appreciate about, you know, we don't forget that it was started by a mouse, but instead by Walt Disney and his legacy. To say it's profound is the understatement of the year, but it's also enduring from your perspective, personally connecting with the Walt philosophy of storytelling and creativity and how you apply those principles to the work that you do. Right. Sort of never forgetting sort of where it came from and the foundation that not the stories and the technology laid, but Walt did as well. How much of Walt sort of is and was present for you personally and sort of collectively in decisions and stories that you were crafting and well, I.

00:39:16 - Kevin Lively
Think I mentioned this last time we spoke, but earlier we were talking about how do you work on a legacy attraction? Aren't you afraid of rocking the boat? Things like that. But people always say, like, oh, what would Walt say if he were to walk around Disneyland today? And I think the number one thing he would say is, what's that still doing here?

00:39:39 - Lou Mongello
That would surprise a lot of people, I think, to hear you say that.

00:39:42 - Kevin Lively
Yeah, like, I built that mountain in 1959. Can we make it bigger? Can't we do something flashier? I love the Tiki Room, but the Tiki Room was almost like a play test for his audio animatronics. He would walk in, be like, oh, all right, so you made it shorter.

00:40:03 - Lou Mongello
That's it.

00:40:04 - Kevin Lively
Oh, you cut some songs. Okay, I understand that. But there's also, like, I would love to take Walt on something like Mystic Manor, because I think he would walk out and be like he wouldn't compliment you because that wasn't his thing, but he'd say that was it was the constant reminder, because there are outside forces who don't touch my nostalgia. I think we mentioned it last time, a lot of things are, like, at Disneyland, especially, like, visiting Grandma, right? It's warm, it's comforting. You go there, you know, the know, you have your little routines, and so if you treat Grandma with respect, you give her, like, a new dress, you give her maybe get her hair done real nice, people are going to be more willing to accept it. But if you take Grandma in for Extreme Makeover and get her, like, face tatoos and like, a pink mohawk, people are going to be a little bit more jarred. And so I think it's a matter of reminding yourself you need to go in there, but you need to treat it with respect. But also remember that the guy who started this place, he would have changed all this ten times over by now. I mean, look at how many times tomorrowland itself was changed when he was around, how many times Jungle Cruise was changed when he was around. Yeah, I think he'd be impressed that the sun never sets on the Magic Kingdom, but also at the same time, he's, like, still here? All right, let's get working on that. And then he would have a job number for somebody to start bulldozing things the next day. The man was constantly moving.

00:41:48 - Lou Mongello
Yeah, you said that it was disneyland was never meant to be. You know, from the very beginning, he said, look, whenever I go on a ride, I'm looking for ways to improve things, right. I'm always looking to sort of make things better, even if it means changing it. So when people say, well, Walt wouldn't have wanted it this way, that may not necessarily be true, right? Because he was always looking to not just innovate, but improve on the overall and individual guest experience.

00:42:17 - Kevin Lively
Yeah, I mean, it's even fair to say, like, what would Disneyland even look like if Walt survived another 20 years? When he passed, he was working on a city, on a totally mind blowing concept of a brand new city of progress. And so how much attention would he have kept on theme parks and rides like that? Would he have transitioned Disneyland into being its own city, like a true experimental protein community of tomorrow west? Who knows? But it's something that we'll never know. So it's always going to be a fun game for people. It's a good conversation starter and a good fight starter sometimes, I guess. What would Walt say? What would Walt do? Nobody knows. What year is it? He's been gone a few years. Who knows? I mean, the world has changed a lot since he's left, so who's to say?

00:43:15 - Lou Mongello
Well, and we sort of talked directly and alluded to you and Walt and the inspiration sometimes that Walt might have had to make changes or come up with things. What about for you in your years of designing and developing and storytelling? Are there any sort of surprising or funny sources of inspiration that you've drawn when you are developing stories for attractions or restaurants or event? And then how do you maybe translate these we'll call them unconventional ideas into the Disney magic that we as guests expect?

00:43:59 - Kevin Lively
Oh, man, I don't even know if I could answer this trying. I'm digging so deep into my brain right now. But there's like every little bit of silliness was usually sparked by a really dumb idea I had that I blurted out in the meeting and people just ran with it to my surprise. I can't think of anything right off the top of my head about that.

00:44:21 - Lou Mongello
Because I have to imagine you're home, you're with your kids, you're doing something in the garage, you're in the car somewhere and you get this what you probably think is a wacky funny idea. Like, how am I possibly going to get this thing that is making me laugh? Or I think this is going to be really cool, into an attraction where maybe it doesn't seem to fit, and then walking into that creative meeting and imagineering and standing up in front of the whiteboard going, okay, I've got this great idea. And it came when I was in the shower and I had to run out of the shower and somehow write it down as quickly as I could.

00:44:54 - Kevin Lively
So good news and bad news. I thought of one, that's the good news. Bad news it's in something that never came to fruition. So I can't talk about it. Which sucks because this project was my white. Like we were so close when COVID hit to working on it. I'm just going to like, that's it, guys. If there was ever a Kevin project to ever Kevin, this was going to be it. And I had some bonkers, crazy, stupid ideas. But actually it was in that meeting. It was in a meeting for that project to kind of give you an idea of my brain set the whole time I was at Imagineering. I think it goes the same for a lot of people that there's a little bit of impostor syndrome that kind of lingers in the back of your brain. And so we were talking and we had our artist there. It was just a brainstorm. And the artist had his iPad out. It was Ethan Reed. Amazing artist. I called him my Mark Davis because beautiful gag artist. He designed all Duffy's friends and stuff like that. But yeah, so working, we were sitting there and I said something and then he whips down his iPad and draws that really fast. And I'm like, oh man, I don't know how you do that. It's amazing. It blows my mind that I'm in a meeting, that I can say something stupid and then you sketch that out really fast. I don't get it. And everyone looked at me like, Kevin, that's how we feel about you and your puns and your jokes. And I was like, oh, I am supposed to be here. Oh, I cussed yay. I'm with Alice Davis now.

00:46:40 - Lou Mongello
This is the second time I'm going to have to that sort of brings me to another question. I know it's sort of the relatively impossible one, but you're talking about attractions that are sort of the most Kevin attraction of attractions. With such a diverse portfolio of projects that you've worked on, is there one experience, one attraction, one story, one character that you worked on that you've maybe felt we'll call it a deep personal connection to? And what is it about that that in your mind and your heart makes it stand out from the rest?

00:47:20 - Kevin Lively
So it's going to stink that I tell you this because nobody can experience yet but Zootopia and Shanghai. It was the first big project I worked on from Ground Zero. Everything else prior was a lot of refreshes or things holiday overlays or we have an existing building. We need to plug something. That whole process is Zootopia starting from Ground Zero, trying to figure out what story were we going to tell. Is it going to be Zootopia? Is it going to be something else starting from that level and then knowing that it's being built right now. And I can't wait for those YouTube videos to come out, but that land is going to be something special. And I think everyone fans are going to start booking their travel to Shanghai as soon as stuff starts coming out. If it ends up half as cool as the concept art was when I left, it's going to be amazing. The only shame is, at least for me and probably most of your audience, is that a lot of it's going to be Mandarin. But the whole spirit of what Zootopia is and everything, I think is going to carry over and people should start getting pumped about that. But I'm super proud of being able to take that one from literally a blank sheet of paper, blank whiteboard, and knowing that I don't know when the opening date is, but it's coming up and it's going to be epic. It's going to be cool.

00:48:54 - Lou Mongello
I'm really happy to hear you say that because I love that film. I love that story. I think the place making is perfect for a theme park experience. So to hear and see your excitement and enthusiasm really sort of reinforces it for me. And hopefully being able to get out there again and see it in person.

00:49:17 - Kevin Lively
It'S great, too, with the placemaking now that you say that is. One of our designers was Morgan Richardson, who he started as an intern with us on a venture trading company. And we're still friends to this day. But nobody loves animals more than that guy. He does art shows with Joe Rody and stuff for rhino conservation. He's not imaginary anymore. He's working on Zoos and things like that. But his knowledge of animals and being able to draw inspiration from characteristics of different animals that you'd find in Zootopia that might not even have any screen time, but knowing that they fit within that world is going to be pretty awesome. So being able know, it's that philosophy of what if that camera when Judy was in the middle of the Hub had just panned to the right a little bit, what would you have seen? And so he was able to open up that can of worms and the placemaking is going to be fantastic. Yeah.

00:50:15 - Lou Mongello
This sort of open world environment that Zootopia allows you to work through and get creative with has to be incredibly freeing from a storytelling perspective and as a guest perspective, not knowing, like you said, what sort of exists beyond the four corners of that screen is equally as exciting.

00:50:34 - Kevin Lively
Yeah, the creative director was awesome, and the designer for the attraction and everything was everyone who was very collaborative. It was an excellent opportunity, even working with writers from China to make sure that our jokes, you know, writing puns for a different language not necessarily my strong suit, but we had an amazing writer work with us named chongqing, and she comes from an immersive theater background, but she was pretty dang funny, and she was able to take what I wrote, tweak it for the Shanghai audience, and hopefully there's some giggles going on there.

00:51:13 - Lou Mongello
Yeah. All right, so I promised you and our friend, the listener who's virtually sitting next to us. Ten questions. I think this is actually question number ten. What do you think the future holds for the theme park experience? Coming at it from an Imagineering perspective, a storytelling perspective, a guest perspective. Again, this balance of the needs and the wants of a generation of guests that's looking for more than a passive experience, right? But one instead that includes interactivity and technology and immersion, and I think a little bit or a lot of bit of personalization as well.

00:51:59 - Kevin Lively
Yeah, as I mentioned before, it's writing for those three different audiences. But I do think those divers, that audience is getting bigger and bigger, and people who want to have those personalized experiences, but how do you make sure you're designing those to not alienate those people, just dipping their toe in there? And I think the nice part about the industry right now, there's a big rebound after people were cooped up in their houses for how many it's people want experiences. They want to get out, they want to do things. And this is like the perfect time. This could be a whole new renaissance for the theme park, for the theme park industry, and even stuff around the world. If you're a Disney Parks fan. Yeah, there are Disney parks around the world, but there's also a handful of really great regional parks in places you never even consider. So even if one day you're like, I want to be an Imagineer, look past the Disney, past the Universals, and start looking at what the smaller guys are doing. There's parks in France, Spain, doing some beautiful stuff. So I think rising what's the expression? Rising tides help everybody out or whatever it is. But I always fumble that one.

00:53:15 - Lou Mongello
I think they lift all.

00:53:20 - Kevin Lively
You know, if somebody over here is going to start upping their game, that means Disney's going to up their game. If Disney's going to up their game, that means Universal is going to up their game, which means some park in, I don't know, Australia is going to up their game. And so everyone is just going to start. It's going to get better and better and better. And I think that's promising for the world of theme parks that we've seen experiments and doing super deep dive type things like Galactic Star Cruiser, and there was an audience for it. I don't know how universal it was. That family who goes to Disney World once every five years, I don't think they were booking it because I want to go on Haunted Mansion. I want to go on Pirates. I don't want to have solely a Star Wars experience. But yeah, there's other things like that. There's like a castle in Europe that has a whole Harry Potter type experience where everybody gets to go live in a castle. That's a wizard school. I think it's not IP specific, but know, living out live action role playing like that. And so how is that going to transform then? There's always I don't want to say the threat, because a virtual reality, but as long as those headsets keep costing as much as they are, I think that's going to be a major barrier, a big hurdle for people to try to dive into that. And I hope it doesn't go that way, because I like the tangible. I like seeing those figures. I don't like everything on the screen. There was that Magic Kingdom game or Disneyland game where you got to walk around and it was super weird. And it was like they had the image of a little kid doing this, and on the screen, they were hugging a princess. But I'm like, there's nothing like they're not really hugging Cinderella. They're hugging Air, and there's a digital image of Cinderella. There's something really weird about that. But I think as long as you have the opportunity to go up there and hug Mickey Mouse, disney parks are going to continue to survive. Because there's always going to be that want that need to get out there and go on a jungle boat, to go inside a haunted house, to go blast off in space. And as long as you have these amazing storytellers doing their thing, in an ideal world, just push all the paperwork to the side, write these guys a blank check, because I'm pretty sure you're going to get a return on investment.

00:55:44 - Lou Mongello
Right.

00:55:47 - Kevin Lively
But that's an ideal world. Everyone I know who I used to work with, big parks fans, they always have what's best in their scope. They want to do what's right, but you also have to work within bounds. I'm just rambling at this point, but yeah, I think everything's going strong. I don't see theme parks going away. They took a major hit during COVID but what didn't, and I think they're bouncing back stronger than ever, which is really cool to see.

00:56:21 - Lou Mongello
Yeah. And I think when we talk about technology, it's not something that should be shied away from or feared. I think the next few years, not just the integration of virtual reality and augmented reality, but artificial intelligence and how that might start, having to play a part in the storytelling experience or the technology background of the storytelling experience is going to be very interesting to see and hopefully be able to pay witness to. Kevin Lively I could talk to you all day because you are just a font of knowledge, and I just love the insight into the process. And I love the fact that your passion, not just as a storyteller, but as a fan and an enthusiast, really comes through. All right, very quickly, tell people where they could find you and all of the good stuff that you do that you're continuing to still do.

00:57:20 - Kevin Lively
Oh, yeah. So I'm doing a consulting work now. If you ever need work done for your theme park, or museum or anything like that, just go to Kevinli.com. It also gives you an idea of things I've worked on in the past. I'm lively land across most socials, not really on X anymore. Kind of just let that do its thing. Yeah, I check messages on there once in a while, but other than that, also. Skipper Kevin Art on Instagram. I do art on the side. I've donated stuff for Make A Wish auctions and stuff like that. The holiday season is coming up, so I'm going to start doing a lot of auctions for toys for Tots. So that's what I do every year. I auction off stuff on my Instagram and save all the money and then take it and then just buy a whole bunch of cool stuff, like on Black Friday and stuff for kids, which is great because it lets me buy toys, but I get to give them to somebody else. So at least I get the emotional high of being able to buy toys, even if I don't get to keep them myself.

00:58:26 - Lou Mongello
And you make a bunch of really cool stuff. And I love watching you sort of roll out some of the different and unique and one of a kind designs that you do with some of those carvings of the different animals.

00:58:39 - Kevin Lively
Yeah. SkipperKevin.com, check it out. It goes to my Etsy store. Lots of I got hippos on there. Actually, I have two hippos sitting in both boathouses at the Jungle Cruise. I gave them to the props guy to hide in there. So if you go through the Jungle Cruise queue the boathouses, see if you little tiny, like, six inch carved hippo.

00:59:00 - Lou Mongello
I got to have to go look.

00:59:02 - Kevin Lively
Yeah, I think for you it's going to be like in Alberta's office, unless it blew away one of your storms that you guys have every other afternoon. Yeah, so check it out. I got paintings, prints, stickers, different things. Like, just it's my little side hustle. It's a hobby that just funds itself. Like, whatever I sell, I just buy more art supplies, and it's how I.

00:59:26 - Lou Mongello
Keep will I will link to all of that in the show notes. Skipper Kevin, I appreciate not just your time again tonight, but everything that you've done to literally make and share the magic with me and my family and our extended Disney loving family, literally from around the world. Quick lightning round, I promise you. Ten questions, but super fast. What is the best Disney park worldwide?

00:59:56 - Kevin Lively
Oh, Tokyo Disney Sea.

00:59:58 - Lou Mongello
We just bonded in a big way. What is the best Disney attraction worldwide?

01:00:06 - Kevin Lively
The original Haunted Mansion or Rise of the Resistance? Only because it's technologically cool, but Haunted Mansion itself is just has it checks every single Disney box.

01:00:19 - Lou Mongello
Best restaurant or dining experience?

01:00:23 - Kevin Lively
Let me see. Skipper Canteen. Only for the ambiance.

01:00:29 - Lou Mongello
Best individual food, drink, or snack item?

01:00:32 - Kevin Lively
Oh, the Kungaloosh at Skipper Canteen is the best dessert. I love. That. The only problem is it's too small. It needs to be, like, four times the size.

01:00:41 - Lou Mongello
Favorite character and why.

01:00:44 - Kevin Lively
If you're going classic, you got to say Goofy, though. I try to say I'm like Goofy, but I'm probably more like Donald, let's be honest.

01:00:52 - Lou Mongello
And I think you answered what I wanted to sort of be. My final question for you is, if you could take him anywhere on a Disney property, where would you take Walt and why?

01:01:06 - Kevin Lively
Let me see. Probably Tokyo, Disney, Sea. That'd be mean. But also taking him back to just that's for my own personal greed. I don't think it would benefit him at all. But I would just be able to say, I can walk around Disneyland with you know, we can go to Alani. If he's paying for Be, I'm sure he can pull some strings. Or we do that super trip that takes an airplane around the world.

01:01:37 - Lou Mongello
There we go.

01:01:37 - Kevin Lively
That's my cheat answer. Walt and I will fly on it.

01:01:41 - Lou Mongello
Test, test. 1234-5678, 910. Just do it all skipper. Kevin Lively, I sincerely appreciate you and your time. Thank you for joining me once again.

01:01:52 - Kevin Lively
Oh, hey, I got an idea for the next show.

01:01:55 - Lou Mongello
Lay it on me.

01:01:56 - Kevin Lively
You and I, next time we meet, we're going to do a movie review of a Goofy movie.

01:02:01 - Lou Mongello
Done. And I promise it won't take two years in between.

01:02:09 - Kevin Lively
Good times. Thank you!

What do you think the future holds for the use of technology and storytelling in the Disney parks? Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.



Comment and share your questions, thoughts, and tips in our WDW Radio Clubhouse Community on Facebook or call the Voicemail and be heard “On the Air” at 407-900-9391

Listen to this week’s show and use the form below to enter our weekly trivia contest for a chance to WIN a Disney Prize Package!

Street, City, State, Zip Code
Book your trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Destination… or anywhere through our friends at Mouse Fan Travel. Contact them for a free, no-obligation quote!

Comments