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Clarification on Disney “Outsourcing” Imagineering

Clarification on Disney “Outsourcing” Imagineering Main-Street-USA-48

I need to make a clarification. On November 30th, 2016 an article I wrote titled Outsourcing Magic: Where have the Disney Imagineers gone? I failed to clarify my point and I wanted to apologize. In the article I stated that Disney has started to outsource their work to third party companies. Where I created a misunderstanding between my intent and you the reader, is that Walt Disney Imagineering is still designing the concepts of the attractions; after re-reading my article I see how I missed the mark. I also want to apologize for not having sources to back up what I was writing down. With that being said, where I will stay true to my original article is the fact that Disney has hired third party companies to help with the construction, and even with the creative designs of some attractions, and I’m back with the sources to prove it.

Additionally, the article I wrote wasn’t meant to discredit the hard working current Imagineers. They do a lot of great work, and guests wouldn’t have the parks we know and love today without everything they’ve done. The intent was to point out how the corporate side of The Walt Disney Company is undermining the legacy of Imagineering by increasingly using 3rd party companies to save some money.

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Instead of Disney using its own Imagineering team, they use production companies like Garner Holt Productions to build audio-animatronics. Garner Holt Productions claims to have built animatronics for the Disney parks for approximately 17 years. Garner Holt Productions is not a Disney-owned production company. On their website, they claim to have created familiar audio-animatronics like Sebastian from Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, Lightning McQueen and the other cars on Radiator Springs Racers, Alice and the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, among many other iconic Disney attractions. Garner Holt Productions has also worked with Universal, Legoland, Knott’s Berry Farm, among many others. When Walt Disney created attractions like the Carousel of Progress, his team of Imagineers designed and built the audio-animatronics. There are brilliant people today who work for Walt Disney Imagineering, so why does Disney need to outsource the creation of the audio-animatronics like they did in the past? Has the corporate side of Disney determined that it isn’t cost effective?

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Another 3rd party company, The Bezark Company, has also been hired by Disney to work side-by-side with the Walt Disney Imagineering team to create attractions at Disneyland Shanghai. According to the company’s website, they have “been involved in the park’s creative design from its earliest days.” They worked with Walt Disney Imagineering on the highly touted attraction “Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.” What about Walt Disney Imagineering would require them to need the help of a third party company like The Bezark Company? It seems reasonable to question The Walt Disney Company why The Bezark Company has been hired to help with “the park’s creative design.” Why have they given up complete control of the creative process in order to save some money?

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My point is that Disney shouldn’t have to hire third parties to help them create and build their attractions. Obviously, structural construction can reasonably be constructed by a third party company, but when Disney relies on third party companies to build audio animatronics, and even needing help with the creative process of attractions I find it disappointing. The Imagineers can do it. Disney Imagineers are creative geniuses, so I think it is a shame that the corporate side of Disney has pushed some of their work off on third party companies. If they love the work done by production companies like Garner Holt Productions or The Bezark Company then they should either acquire the company, or hire Imagineers who can do what they do.

Photos: Non-DIS Photos labeled for reuse

Stephen "Steve" Porter started going to the parks with his family in 1996. Since then he hasn't looked back! Steve was a cast member participating in the Disney College Program in 2013. Most recently he graduated from Penn State University!


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