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Here’s something I’d dearly love to write about in this column. I’ve been to Walt Disney World three times, but it’s been over half a decade since my last visit. Similarly, I’ve been to Disneyland several times, usually in connection with a trip to the San Diego Con. but I haven’t been there since the opening of its sister theme park, Disney’s California Adventure. I’d love to do a detailed, novelistic report on my visit to a Disney theme park, but considering that I’m virtually broke (and I’m not kidding about this), I don’t know when I’ll be able to afford to go to one if them and see the new attractions.

If only somehow the attractions could come to me, instead.

Well, when one lives in New York City, the impossible sometimes becomes reality.

On Saturday, May 31, the first World Science Festival held a program titled “The Science of Disney Imagineering” at New York University’s Skirball Center. And what, you may ask, is Imagineering? According to the Walt Disney Company’s careers website, “Walt Disney Imagineering is the master planning, creative development, design, engineering, production, project management, and research and development arm of The Walt Disney Company and its affiliates. Representing more than 150 disciplines, its talented corps of Imagineers is responsible for the creation of Disney resorts, theme parks and attractions, hotels, water parks, real estate developments, regional entertainment venues, cruise ships and new media technology projects.” In short, Walt Disney Imagineering conceives and designs the attractions at the theme parks.

Walt Disney Imagineering originated as WED Enterprises, a company that Walt Disney himself founded in 1952, in large part to come up with ideas for what became Disneyland, which opened in 1955. (Disney’s full name was Walter Elias Disney, hence the initials.) Owned personally by Walt Disney, WED Enterprises was initially a separate company from Walt Disney Productions, but eventually was absorbed into it.

There were three performances of “The Science of Disney Imagineering” that Saturday, at 10, 12:30, and 3. When I arrived at the Skirball Center around 9 AM, the latter to shows were already sold out, and it seems that I purchased one of the last remaining tickets for the morning show.

Waiting in line to enter the Skirball Center auditorium, I saw some volunteers wearing silver mouse ears caps and shirts bearing the name “Disney Voluntears.” Not until I started writing this essay did I realize that this was a reference to the mouse ears; at the time I kept thinking that this was an unfortunate spelling, as if volunteer work for Disney resulted in tears. A well-placed hyphen would have been useful.

Looking at the line, I was surprised to see that there were more women than men. By the time that the show started, the division between men and women in the audience was more even. Still, this was a surprise, and not the first time that day that any preconception I might have had that the show would primarily attract stereotypical male technology geeks was proven wrong.

Saturday was the World Science Festival’s “Kids and Family Day,” and there were plenty of kids in the audience for this show, but they were still far outnumbered by adults, mostly under forty.

To judge from the people sitting around me, there were also well-informed Disney buffs there. One of the volunteers was asking kids sitting near me what the name of the first Disney animated cartoon was. She was looking for Steamboat Willie (1928), the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be released. But one kid in front of me suggested Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the star of the animated series that Walt Disney produced before the creation of Mickey, and which, until recently, the Disney Company did not own (see “Comics in Context” #211: “The Silent Rabbit”). And someone behind me insisted that the correct answer was Plane Crazy, the Mickey cartoon which Walt Disney made before Steamboat Willie but released afterwards. Not bad. I applaud these young audience members’ sense of history.

On the stage was a large video screen, in which one could perceive the dim outline of Mickey Mouse’s head and ears. Yes, it was a “Hidden Mickey,” like those in the theme parks. Small groupings of three circular lights, positioned in the formation of Mickey’s head and ears, drifted across the screen.

The first person to appear on-stage was Brian Greene, the physics professor from my alma mater, Columbia University, the author of The Elegant Universe, and the co-founder of the World Science Festival, along with his wife, television journalist Tracy Day. The audience greeted Greene with effusive applause: perhaps they merely thought that someone walking into the stage signaled the start of the show, but I rather suspect that this audience recognized him. Greene welcomed the audience and thanked various people who had contributed to the Festival.

After Greene left the stage, a voice over the sound system proclaimed, “Attention, all future scientists. Please take your seats.” That was a reminder that this show was intended for family audiences, but also had the commendable purpose of encouraging young kids to pursue science as a career.

The disembodied voice continued, “Keep your hands, feet, arms and legs inside the theater at all times,” getting a laugh. Of course that was a joke alluding to theme park rides, but it also helped give me the feeling as if I was back at a Disney theme park. That gag had the sense of wit, even aimed at Disney itself, which I associate with the Disney theme parks at their best. And indeed, throughout the show it was as if the Disney theme park atmosphere had somehow materialized briefly in New York City. (I felt the same way when I saw the Mary Poppins musical on Broadway when I noticed that the ushers and elevator attendants demonstrated a kind of friendliness I more associate with Disney park “cast members’” than with typical Broadway staffers.)

Then an offstage voice introduced our host for the performance, “Imagineer Scott Trowbridge.” We waited, but no one appeared; the sound of crickets was heard. The voice introduced Trowbridge again, and this time he appeared on the on-stage video screen in what seemed to be a live transmission. He was outside, across the street, somewhere in Washington Square Park, perusing a map, trying to figure out where the Skirball Center was. (In other words, he was doing what I had been doing a little more than an hour previously.)

Then, unexpectedly, as we watched, a dinosaur’s head appeared on=screen and took Mr. Trowbridge’s map in his mouth! This was one of new Disney theme park attractions that I had longed to see, and which had made the journey to New York instead: Lucky the audio-animatronic dinosaur.

Once again I have to define my terms. “Audio-animatronics” is the term used by Walt Disney himself and the early Imagineers to describe the firm of robotics that they pioneered at Disneyland and the 1964 New York World’s Fair. (Hey, so there’s a reason why it’s appropriate that Lucky should visit New York.) Robotic figures of animals and people in the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Country Bear Revue, Splash Mountain, and the Hall of Presidents, including the celebrated figure of Abraham Lincoln, are audio-animatronic devices. I assume that the “audio” part of the word refers to the fact that the figures move in sync with prerecorded sounds, music and voices. The term “animatronics” suggests that Walt Disney and the Imagineers regarded themselves as “animating” these three-dimensional robotic figures if characters just as the Disney studio famously animated cartoon characters on-screen. In both cases Disney and his staff were attempting to impart the “illusion of life” and even to express characterization through movement.

In the American Adventure pavilion at EPCOT, an audio-animatronic figure of Benjamin Franklin amazingly ascends some steps. But apart from limited examples of movement like this, Disney audio-animatronic figures stay rooted in one place. That changed in 2003, when Lucky made his debut. He represented a breakthrough, in that he is the first fully mobile audio-animatronic figure, able to walk back and forth, even in a natural, outdoor setting like Washington Square Park. (You can find out more about Lucky here and watch YouTube videos of Lucky in action here and here.)

Lucky first appeared at Disney’s California Adventure, and later traveled to Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World and to the new Hong Kong Disneyland. a place I expect I will never ever visit. But I never expected him to come to New York City!

Holding the map in his mouth, Lucky drooled on it and grunted amusedly at Trowbridge, who wanted to know where the Skirball Center was. Lucky, who grunts rather than talks, directed his attention to a nearby sign, “To Skirball Center.” But why should Trowbridge trust a dinosaur? Lucky indicated another sign, reading, “listen to the dinosaur.” That seemed to resolve the issue. Trowbridge bid goodbye to Lucky, and introduced a brief film (or video) while he hustled over to the auditorium.

The film appropriately began with footage of Walt Disney himself talking about Disneyland and the Imagineers. The film then stated that the present day Imagineers’ mission was “to grow and expand Walt’s vision.” Further, the film declared (if I transcribed this correctly), “No other company in the world has a team dedicated to inspiring the imagination.” It seems to me that other creative enterprises, from the curatorial staff of an art museum to the faculty of a school of the arts and even to a good editorial staff of a comics company could claim the same goal, but I like the fact that the Imagineers conceive of their purpose in these terms.

Once the film ended, Trowbridge raced onto the stage, seemingly out of breath. (Considering how much ground he had to cover in a short time to get from Lucky’s position in the park to the stage, he may not have altogether been faking.)

Scott Trowbridge is actually vice president for creative research and development at Walt Disney Engineering; until last fall, he was vice president of Universal’s Creative Studios, where he had been senior show producer on the Spider-Man ride for Universal’s Islands of Adventure. None of this was mentioned in the “Science of Disney Imagineering” show; I found it out on my own, afterwards. Instead, Trowbridge, as master of ceremonies, shifted in and out of playing himself ss a comedy character, and rather effectively, too. He reminded me of Steve Carell’s characters: earnest, but sometimes in over his head. As this character, Trowbridge needing the other Imagineers in the show, who all play it straight, to set him straight on the subjects under discussion.

What does science have to do with the Disney theme parks, Trowbridge asked. He began by explaining Imagineering. “We make amazing, cool things come to life,” he told us, in a decided improvement on General Electric’s slogan. Behind him on the screen appeared pictures of Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse as Steamboat Willie, and Albert Einstein, thus not only connecting popular art with science, but also suggesting that Walt Disney was a creative visionary in Einstein’s league.

“Imagineering,” Trowbridge pointed out, is the combination of two words: “Imagination” and “earring.” No, he quickly corrected himself: “imagination” and “engineering.” Imagineers, he said, “use science and engineering” in order “to bring dreams to life.” Imagineers, he continued. come from a wide variety of fields; writers, performers, designers, producers, engineers, and scientists. (What was that about writers?)

“Science and imagination are actually two sides of the exact same page,” Trowbridge said. And speaking of pages, he then took out a red notebook, which he said was standard equipment for any Imagineer: it’s where an Imagineer jots down ideas. A huge image of a similar notebook appeared on the screen behind him. “Today you guys are going to be Imagineers,” Trowbridge told the audience, who enthusiastically responded. They were hooked, and so was I.

Trowbridge read an entry from the notebook: “The vast majority of gravity-powered conveyances that utilize rapid changes in acceleration to generate various G-forces. . . .” Then he translated for us: this entry is about roller coasters, the subject of the first segment of the show. Trowbridge then introduced Ric Turner, an Imagineer who specializes in roller coasters. Turner brought out a man-sized mechanism resembling a huge gyroscope. It’s apparently really called a force vector simulator, but Turner dubbed it the Basic Articulated Rotational Force Simulator, which the audience quickly realized went by the acronym BARFS. Then they brought up a volunteer, dubbed an “honorary Imagineer,” from the audience, as the rest of us applauded. This was Max, a young lad of few words, as you shall see. They outfitted hum with a vest that measured the amount of G-force (the force of gravity) pressing upon him and then strapped him into the BARFS. Was he comfortable? “Kind of,” replied the less than loquacious Max.

Turner was going to simulate for Max the experience of riding the California Screamin’ roller coaster at Disney’s California Adventure, which he described as the “longest looping roller coaster in the world.” Max was given another essential piece of equipment: an airsick bag. And then Max was off. Turner manually manipulated the BARFS while on the screen a video showed what it would look like if he were actually riding a car on California Screamin.’ When the video reached a point where the roller coaster did a loop, Turner actually spun the BARFS upside down with Max inside. (You can watch a video of Max’s misadventure here. It looks as if the video cameraman was sitting fairly close to me.)

Turner explained that this simulator couldn’t “generate” the full G forces of the actual ride. When the roller coaster does a loop, and the riders are upside down, you “don’t feel like you’re going to fall out” because of the pressure of two G’s on you. What i found particularly interesting was when Turner explained that at one point in the ride, the force generated by acceleration impels the roller coaster car to keep going up, but the tracks head down, with the result that the forces cancel each other out, and the rider experiences zero gravity!

His adventure in the BARFS over, Max was asked how he felt. Ever economical with language, Max replied, “Okay.” “Nobody leaves empty-handed,” declared Trowbridge, who allowed him to keep the airsick bag as a memento.

I don’t find roller coasters appealing, and don’t understand why the terror of falling is supposed to be enjoyable, but even I appreciated Turner’s presentation. His goal, Turner said before exiting, was to “blend science and physics with great storytelling.”

The next portion of the show was about “special effects” to produce “chills,” and was introduced by a video montage of such attractions as the Haunted Mansion and the dragon in Fantasmic. Trowbridge brought out another Imagineer, Asa Kalama, and they set about attempting to transform the Skirball Center stage into a “creepy and spooky environment.” The first step was getting the appropriate music. The first selection over the sound system, “The Girl from Ipanema,” didn’t work, nor did the second, the theme from “It’s a Small World,” though to be sure that is scary in its own way. (”That’ll be stuck in your head the rest of the day,” Trowbridge warned us.) Finally we got music that was reasonably eerie, and a cemetery under moonlight appeared on the video screen.

We were told that the next demonstration would create a “sound from right inside your head.” A new volunteer from the audience, a young boy named Nick, was directed to whisper “I am a spooky ghost” into a microphone. Trowbridge asked us to raise our hands when we heard Nick speak. Most people in the audience could not hear Nick whispering, but this didn’t quite work with me, because I was sitting so close to the stage that I could hear Nick whispering easily. Trowbridge pointed a speaker around the audience, and when he directed it straight towards me, suddenly, yes, I could hear Nick very clearly, as if the sound were right inside my head! Kalama explained that this special speaker sent out “frequencies of ultrasound,” which ordinarily we cannot hear. But the ultrasound travels along “narrow beams” which the Imagineers “can steer around the audience.”

Then Kalama and Trowbridge began discussing “fluid dynamics,” or in other words, using “air allied with water vapor” to create stage fog. And as they talked, seemingly oblivious to what was happening behind them, a large mass of stage fog rolled in from stage left, to the audience’s audible surprise.

The Imagineers explained that the fog was generated by liquid nitrogen that was “two and one half times colder than any temperature recorded naturally.” Then, wielding the end of a long, serpentine metal tube, Trowbridge began spraying the front rows of the audience with the gaseous nitrogen. And did I mention that I was sitting in the center of row three? The spray was pleasantly cool. (However, later when I was wandering about the World Science Festival’s street fair in Washington Square Park, I saw a flower that had been dipped in liquid nitrogen or some other frigid chemical and been rendered hard and stiff.)

But what about the audience sitting up in the balcony? How could they share the liquid nitrogen experience? In Carell mode, Trowbridge pulled out a little “masterblaster” gun that proved ineffectual. But then out came an enormous circular machine, that looked like some sort of mad scientist’s blasting device. This was the Big Puffer, which the Imagineers then employed to shoot “vortex rings” of artificial fog up to the balcony. (See for yourself on YouTube here.)

The next segment, on fireworks, was introduced by a video montage of spectacular fireworks shows from Disney theme parks around the world. Trowbridge introduced Dr. Ben Schwegler, who was described as Imagineering’s chief scientist. Though Trowbridge, acting like an eager fan, was excited at the prospect of a fireworks show, Schwegler patiently explained that there wasn’t enough room indoors to launch them (”We’re not going to do booms in here.”). Instead, Schwegler said he would demonstrate how they transform “chemical energy into light energy” in fireworks shows. Both men donned safety glasses to work with three dishes, each of which contained alcohol mixed with a different chemical. The dish with strontium produced a red flame, the one with copper had a blue flame, and the third dish, containing barium, issued a green flame.

They then explained that Disney had invented a method of using compressed air to launch fireworks. While they couldn’t launch fireworks indoors, they could use the same principle to shoot t-shirts into the audience. A huge gun was brought out, large enough for Cable or the Punisher to carry on a comics cover, and, after an initial malfunction, Trowbridge starting stuffing T-shirts into the gun and firing them at the audience; the first one landed in the row right behind me.

The next segment of the show, Trowbridge told us, concerned a “relatively new science” that “helps create new kinds of shows.” He then introduced another Imagineer, computer scientist Amber Sandahl, an attractive young woman (who thus explodes another stereotype about computer techies). She told the audience that Imagineers “still use physical models for some things,” they use “computer models more often” in their design work.

What she then showed us was more advanced than I’d expected. Upon the video screen appeared tiny images if people walking about, as if at one of the Disney theme parks. Sandahl called them “virtual guests,” and explained that they were “driven by artificial intelligence,” and that “each” figure was “driven by a tiny computer program.”

Using this computer model, the Imagineers can experiment with how guests might react to changes in the parks. Using a pen-like device on the computer she held in her hand, Sandahl caused a giant cactus to drop onto the middle of the screen; the virtual guests changed direction in order to avoid walking into it. She introduced a giant ice cream cone, and the virtual guests walked toward it and crowded around it. Then she manipulated her computer again, and a big red tyrannosaur (Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur? Nah, just a coincidence!) landed in their midst, and the virtual guests understandably started walking away.

Referring to Disney’s 1960s audio-animatronic figure of Abraham Lincoln, Sandahl said that today with computers they could take a real human performance to drive characters.” She proceeded to give us a demonstration of “motion capture” technology. I haven’t had much good to say about motion capture in the past (see “Comics in Context” #205: “Identity Theft”), but, as with roller coasters, the Imagineering show made it look both amazing and entertaining.

Two more volunteers, a father and son, came up from the audience. The video screen rose, and a large motion capture box came forward on -stage, with video screens on two sides. Sandahl told us that there were fourteen cameras to monitor the performer within the box. The boy got inside the box, and a CGI figure of a skeleton in pirate garb appeared on-screen. Following Sandahl’s instructions, the boy jumped and spun about, and the CGI character copied his every movement. Getting into the spirit of things, the boy spontaneously tucked one of the legs behind the other, and the character did the same.

Then the father exchanged places with his son inside the box. He got three CGI counterparts onscreen, including a monster (reminiscent of Monsters, Inc.), an astronaut, and a teddy bear, on what seemed like a disco floor, complete with disco ball. As the Village People’s “YMCA” played (surely one of the songs I least expected to hear at a Disney event) the dad started dancing away, as his CGI counterparts matched him move for move. The dad wasn’t at all bad, either, and Sandahl and Trowbridge got the audience to clap in time to the disco beat.

Just before Amber Sandahl left the stage, Trowbridge asked her, “You’re not a robot, are you?” “I can’t tell you that,” she replied. Darn! I knew she was too good to be real.

In introducing the next segment, Trowbridge noted that not everything in theme parks is “operated by computer.” There followed a video montage about Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is Walt Disney World’s blend of theme park and zoological park. Then Trowbridge introduced Dr. Anne Savage, another attractive young woman who was described as Animal Kingdom’s senior conservation biologist. (Are the scientists who care for the animals at Animal Kingdom also considered Imagineers, then?)

Dr. Savage (The real Doc Savage?) said that that there were 1500 animals at Animal Kingdom, and that she also studied animals out in the wild. For example, she’d just been in Florida tracking sea turtles, since it was their nesting season, and “a few weeks ago” she had been in Botswana, tracking elephants. She them mentioned the “Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund,” which serves “to protect some of the world’s most endangered animals”. This received a spontaneous wave of applause from the audience.

Dr. Savage described some of her experiences tracking animals while pictures appeared on the video screen. She noted “lion tracks” outside her tent in Botswana, commenting that she had to “stay in the tent all night long.” She showed pictures of Rhesus monkeys taken in Asia with “camera traps,” which take photos when triggered by the animal’s presence. (Trowbridge observed that camera traps, therefore, don’t “trap cameras.”) Then Dr. Savage noted that one can also track animals through things they leave behind, “like poop.” (Nope, I didn’t expect this, either.) “Match the feces to the species,” rhymed Dr. Savage. Scott Trowbridge turned to us and said, “No.”

So Dr. Savage turned to a new topic, the use of transmitters to track animals. For example, a tiny transmitter is attached to the back of a Tamarin monkey, and she spoke about another transmitter that was attached to a sea turtle. Such a transmitter, she said, “communicates with a satellite in outer space,” and you can follow the turtle via a website.

But larger animals require larger transmitters, and Dr. Savage put on a collar designed for an elephant, containing GPS technology. The collar looked enormous, but this was a small one–eight feet long, for a female elephant. She told us that a collar for a “giant bull” elephant would be fifteen to twenty feet! To demonstrate how the collar worked, they brought a whole family out of the audience and then encircled the whole group within the collar. Then Trowbridge and Savage sent them “out into the wilds of New York City” so we could track them later in the video screen with the GPS technology. Their ability to move considerably limited by the collar, the “Elephant Family,” as Trowbridge dubbed them, moved offstage in tiny steps.

Dr. Savage then told us that the collars also contain microphones that “can record vocalizations” the elephants make, and that elephants engage in “normal conversation” with each other through “low frequency rumbles” that are below the range of human hearing.” They then played the sound of such rumbles (apparently adjusted for human hearing range) for the audience. Dr. Savage said that an elephant will have a “best friend” and they will “talk to each other all the time, over real long distances.” Moreover, the Disney scientists had identified “two new vocalizations” elephants do.

We did not realize it, but this discussion of elephant language was setting us up for the show’s grand finale, which also involved an animal making conversation. The video screen now presented an underwater scene. with a school of fish swimming in the background. And then, into the scene swam Crush, the sea turtle from Pixar’s Finding Nemo (see “Comics in Context” #40: “Beasts and Beauty”). Crush chatted with Scott Trowbridge, but lest you think that Crush’s dialogue was scripted and prerecorded, he then began talking back and forth with a little girl from the audience!

This was the renowned “Turtle Talk with Crush,” which is at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, Disney’s California Adventure, and Hong Kong Disneyland, and was high on my list of new attractions to see if I ever made it to the one of the Disney theme parks. And now it had come to me!

Although the Imagineers did not spell it out during their show at NYU, thinking about it afterwards, it was easy to figure out that the motion capture demonstration must have something to do with the way that “Turtle Talk” works. Whoever was doing Crush’s voice was quite good, combining the familiar California surfer vocal rhythms with an Australian accent. I especially liked the wryly ironic expressions that would sometimes cross Crush’s face during the show.

The little girl from the audience took Crush aback when he attempted to engage her in “turtle talk.” She protested that she had hoped to hear him make actual turtle sounds. Speechless with surprise, Crush put a flipper to his brow in shock. The girl’s mother played along, though, telling Crush he was “totally awesome.” When Crush asked a young audience member where the kid’s “home” was, the kid forgot. “I have a friend named Dory who forgets all the time,” Crush assured the child, referring to a character from the movie and winning an appreciative laugh from the audience.

In closing, Crush asked the audience to “promise to use the word ‘dude’ for the rest of the day. Trust me, your parents will totally love it.”

(And if you want to see the “Turtle Talk” attraction, check out the YouTube videos here and here)

And thus “The Science of Disney Imagineering” came to an end. Scott Trowbridge told us that we would be given Imagineers’ notebooks as we left “to jot down your ideas, thoughts, sketches, dreams and imagination.” (Hmm, sort of like a blog.) Via the video screen, GPS focused in on Washington Square Park, and we received a live video feed of “the Elephant Family,” who were now hobnobbing with Lucky the dinosaur, bringing the show full circle. And the show finally ended with a quotation from Walt Disney on the screen: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” It reminded me of a similar line from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, another connection I never expected to make with Disney, but it’s an inspiring sentiment nonetheless.

As we filed out, the Imagineers from the show were lined up, chatting with audience members. If only one friend of mine, who has long dreamed of being an Imagineer, had been able to make it to the show! I made sure of getting an Imagineer’s notebook for myself, and one for him, before I left the Skirball Center.

Then I spent some time exploring the World Science Festival’s street fair, inside and alongside Washington Square Park, including watching a surprisingly clever playlet about the life cycle of a butterfly enacted by three young women from the Central Park Zoo.

Finally, I saw Lucky the Dinosaur in person! He was again interacting with Scott Trowbridge, while a man trained a video camera, and I later realized that they must have been reenacting the opening segment of the “Science of Disney Engineering” for the 12:30 PM show.

In person, one sees that Lucky is presented as a beast of burden: he pulls a little wagon behind him, labeled “EXPLORERS CLUB.” (Shouldn’t it be the Adventurers’ Club from Disney World’s Pleasure Island?) I realize that the wagon is necessary because it conceals the computer and power source necessary for Lucky’s operation. Still, I wondered if whoever had dubbed the dinosaur “Lucky” was thinking of the similarly burdened Lucky in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

But despite having to pull this wagon, Lucky the Dinosaur maintains a cheerful temperament. Once Scott Trowbridge had left, Lucky interacted with a kid from the crowd. Lucky allowed himself to be petted; he moved his head to look at the people near him, grunted in what seemed friendly responses, and, when he was photographed with the kid, even looked into the camera and smiled. If you ever imagined a pet dinosaur when you were a child, this is your dream come true. (AOL Video shows Lucky in Washington Square Park during the World Science Festival here).

But then it began to rain, lightly but ominously. Grunting, Lucky walked backwards into a tent behind him, and soon there was a downpour. I headed to a nearby restaurant for lunch; my visit to the World Science Festival was over.

“The Science of Disney Imagineering” was such a well put-together show that I assumed that this was an event that Disney stages from time to time in different cities and venues. But no, I’ve since read that this was a one-time event that Disney Imagineering staged solely for the three performances at the World Science Festival. Well then, I’m even more glad that I was able to see it and then to write up this report for my readers. (If you want to see photographs from the show, you can find them here and here.)

The World Science Festival was reportedly a tremendous success, so perhaps it will become an annual event, and perhaps Walt Disney Imagineering will return to the Festival next year. Now, what other new Disney theme park attraction do I really want to see? How could they possibly bring “Soarin’ over California” to New York?


I very much like Disney Imagineering’s pocket guides to several of the Disney theme parks. The books are highly informative, each squeezing an amazing amount of information about the attractions and how they were created into a mall volume, while being surprisingly inexpensive. And Amazon is selling them for even less! There you can find The Imagineering Field Guide to EPCOT at Walt Disney World,
The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World and The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland.


In the mail I’ve just received Marvel’s latest reprint volume of the Marvel Universe Handbooks I co-wrote in the 1980s: The Essential Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Master Edition Vol. 2: Garokk to Proctor, which Amazon is also selling. I see that Volume 3 will come out this fall.

Besides advertising myself, I also want to promote my Quick Stop colleague Fred Hembeck’s voluminous and ceaselessly amusing The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus, which is out at long last, both in comics stores and on Amazon. Having already been awarded well-deserved accolades by Entertainment Weekly and by Stan Lee himself (in the June 12 entry of Fred’s blog), Fred doesn’t need me to add to the praise. But I intend to review his book, too, once I finish reading the whole thing. And considering its immense size, holding most of the work of his entire cartooning career, this may take a while!

-Copyright 2008 Peter Sanderson


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