The last episode of The Imagineering Story, Disney+’s flagship original documentary series, is titled “To Infinity and Beyond”, which suggests that there is a bright future for the division of the Disney company that is responsible for the rides, shows, attractions, hotels and cruise ships that have become cornerstones of the company. While this might not exactly be the case, considering the relative indifference that was met with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this past summer (at least pre-Rise of the Resistance), the fact that ongoing protests have turned Hong Kong Disneyland into a virtual “ghost town,” and how, when Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, unveiled his grand scheme for rejuvenating Florida’s long-suffering Epcot, it felt, in the words of Star Lord (who is about to headline an attraction at the formerly science-and-discovery-themed park), like 12% of a plan.
Still, The Imagineering Story was a titanic achievement and the access that director Leslie Iwerks and her collaborators were granted is staggering, especially for a division of the company as committed to secrecy as Imagineering. In fact, when the division was started, it didn’t even report to the company directly; these were Walt’s crack team of artists and engineers. And they were off the books. The Imagineering Story is beautifully produced, cleanly told, and with narration by Angela Bassett that makes every insurmountable hurdle they faced seem like an impossibly elegant speedbump. It was also remarkably open, with foibles and shortcomings being shared openly, not couched in excuses or misgivings. (In this latest episode you will hear Imagineer Joe Rohde share, with an inspiring amount of candor, just what he thought when he was assigned the Avatar portfolio.)
That said, there are limits to the amount of time Ubwerks had in telling this story and the amount of comfort the company had with sharing some of these things. So here are a few projects that didn’t make it into The Imagineering Story that are still very much worth uncovering. (If you like this stuff, tell us, and we’ll share more from the darkened, dust-covered corners of Imagineering.)