The Imagineering Story is a documentary service on Disney+ that tells the stories of Disney’s famous Imagineers, the man and women who create the magic of the Disney theme parks. The series is directed by Leslie Iwerks (who previously also directed The Pixar Story and is the granddaughter od Mickey Mouse co-creator Ub Iwerks) and is the first production to get a complete behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the imagineers.
The series tells the story of the imagineers chronologically. The story starts in Anaheim California, with the construction of the original Disneyland under Walt Disney’s supervision. The next episodes take a look at the construction and planning of other resorts such as Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland Paris. Stories are also told about the Disney Cruise Line and unbuild resorts such as Disney’s America.
One of the best aspects of the series, is that it dares to be critical when necessary. In the early 2000’s, Disney had a tendency to open mediocre parks like Disney’s California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Paris. The series is not afraid to tackle these issues and look at what was the cause of it. It also highlights internal conflicts within the company, something Disney normally does not publicly share.
Whilst the documentary mostly features newly shot material, it also features lots of archival material as well. This allows it to feature all of the famous imagineers, both in voice, images and video. Imagineers like Joe Rohde (lead designer Animal Kingdom), Tom Fitzgerald (lead designer of the current EPCOT revamp) and Tony Baxter (creator of Big Thunder Mountain) are all featured in newly shot interviews, whilst imagineers that are no longer with us like Mark Davis (designer Pirates of the Caribbean) and Claude Coats (designer Haunted Mansion) featuring in both voice and old video.
The last episodes consists of new and upcoming projects that the company is working on, like a Beauty and the Beast ride in Tokyo and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which felt more like a promotion for these rides. This made the ending feel a bit abrupt and it would be interesting to see how the documentary will age when new projects are announced in the future. Although the episodic nature (and of course it being on a streaming service) leaves the door open for new episodes.
The series is certainly going to please fans of fans of the Disney theme parks, but it also provides an accessible way of learning about the creation of these experiences for non-fans who might be interested. It satisfies both audiences perfectly.