Bringing back into focus... the Imagineering of the Jetson's & Disney
Published on April 2, 2019
Imagineer / Author / Voice Over / Inventor
I got to know Ted Nichols, the creator of the Jetson's theme song and all of the other great cartoon tunes and much more. Early in his career he became a “Dapper Dan” at Disneyland, and actually had coffee some mornings with Uncle Walt in the coffee shop on Main Street. I was blessed to have Ted as my choir director when we lived in Portland Oregon back in 1976-77 while working at Western Baptist Seminary. He was the instructor of music at the Seminary and also our local Baptist church. Wonderful concerts we did with full orchestra backup he hired... Wow those were some very fun times! He also did Yogi Bear and all of the other Hana Barbera films and TV shows which I watched religiously as a kid. Go ahead live a little go back and have some fun again and listen to your favorites and see how they were the original Imagineers... like Disney. They shared a common theme of predicting the our future and illustrating it to us in action cartoons. Today many of their far-out themed ideas are just around the corner including the personal flying car that does exist but, just not financially affordable just yet. Just like the computer was only fifteen years ago and now in every home and in every pocket and purse... it is amazing how these shows and movies like Star Trek and Star Wars have effected our base understanding and highly influenced the creators of and the development of technology based on these very concepts. You might say that it is truly the “Imagineering Effect” that has actually steered our future.
Walt Disney Imagineering…
Walt Disney founded a little known company at that time in 1952, I guess when I was two years old. He started out as an animator which was just coming on the scene after Edison, came up with his adaption of lighting for motion picture shooting with the Edison Film studio in New York. The entire studio was on wheels like a lazy susan to continue capturing the sun light shooting films all day while the sun was up.
Walt began as a pioneer in the infancy of animation. He worked at building several studios and showed greater ambitions and leadership even though it all ended in bankruptcy. When suddenly it dawned on him that it wasn’t about the sight or visuals only but the sounds, the feelings, the mystery and people transported into a completely new environment that was nothing they had ever experienced before with tons of fantasy and fun!
He probably hatched the idea as he personally went about building a one-third sized model railroad in his back yard. I am sure, he began to see the smiles of peoples faces full of delight and their noses filled with the smell of oil and sound of the steam from the roaring engine.
When he first conceived of his “Vision of Disney Land” he immediately went on the hunt for financial backing knowing how much he had already invested in his backyard train. Like all new ideas who are in search of a reason to exist his timing couldn’t have been better as it was only seven years since World War II and men and woman coming back from the war sparked a new surge in creation of jobs and businesses. He literally had to find like minded businesses willing to devote and gamble on his vision. When that became rather hard to find in this post war climate he decided to find his own men and women who could see his same vision of the future of Disneyland and later his ultimate Disney World.
Eventually that tight group of like minded creative and engineering minds soon became known as what they are called today as the “Walt Disney Imagineering Company.” They simply lived and breathed Walt’s heart and began to visualize his dreams and were dedicated to see it become a reality. I am guessing that these new kind of Imagineers started to offer Walt some technologies, techniques, and challenges that Walt had never thought about as well. So the concept of Imagineering or being an Imagineer was born like products out of need and desire to accomplish something you couldn’t pull off the shelf. They simply had to be designed, engineered, and tested while always looking for ways to improve on techniques, cost, results, and performance.
I was a youngster in the 50’s and Walt had produced many new films and had begun working on Walt Disney theme park in Anaheim, California. I thought he walked on water, as I stared at the black and white TV every Sunday night to see the next incredible creative visuals and characters he created. He used the highest production values that were available at that time and his world exploded. His reputation in the minds of children everywhere saw him as their hero. I drank it all in and when I was eighth grade about 13, my family took a trip to Los Angeles to enjoy this world wonder and modern marvel known as Walt Disney theme park in Anaheim, California. So, I guess when you see something this amazing it makes a very big impression on your life. So way back in my child-liked mind, I felt a tug in my spirit, but, at the time, I had no idea what it meant until almost 50 years later when my company Xtra Lite Displays made a series of Exhibit Displays for Disney.
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