Walt Disney Imagineering Fosters Creative Talent Through ‘Imaginations’ Design Competition

Last week, Walt Disney Imagineering announced the finalists for the Imaginations design competition. Imagineers first started the competition to develop future talent and to provide students an opportunity to showcase their skills. Now in its 24th year, the competition seeks to nurture the next generation of Imagineers and bring fresh perspectives to Walt Disney Imagineering, the design and development arm of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

This year’s Imaginations competition tasked students from American universities and colleges with the following challenge: Take what Disney does best today—from its world-class theme parks, resorts, cruise ships and other entertainment venues that are highly popular with families—and apply it to transportation within a major city. Each team was challenged to create a theoretical transportation experience that included station stops and vehicle designs that reflect the diversity of the city, in addition to being accessible, energy-friendly and distinctly Disney. On January 26, the finalist teams will travel to Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, California, to present their projects to a team of executive Imagineers.

Here’s a look at 2015 Imaginations finalist teams and their projects:

The Wunderkinds, Art Center College of Design—The beauty of Switzerland’s landscape, Zurich’s architecture, global recognition as a leader in energy efficiency and conservation, along with a deep admiration for the intricacy and integrity of Swiss craftsmanship inspired this project. The Wunderkinds highlights Switzerland’s most famous products: chocolate, the Alps and timepieces.

Woollahra, Drexel University—Woollahra connects the districts of Liverpool, Hornsby and Sutherland to a main station in the central business district of Sydney, Australia. Also an interactive experience, Woollahra unites Sydney—both geographically and spiritually—using the campfire, a long held place of storytelling and culture to gather people to share traditions from the past, stories of their lives and vision of what is to come.

New Orleans Double Rail, Ringling College of Art + Design—The New Orleans Double Rail is a symbol of hope for a city whose greatest challenge is its location below sea level. The lower train uses modern-day projection technology to tell the story of the city of New Orleans by creating a magical and unforgettable sightseeing experience as the guests soar over the city aboard the suspended Double-Rail train.

AetherSan Jose State University—Aether provides a breathtaking journey by lifting passengers above Toronto to transport them to commuter and tourist destinations. While on board, guests are entertained by 3-D-projected artificial intelligence tour guides, smart glass projections, interactive seat backs and automated photo stops—all of which provide for a unique experience immersed in the imaginative realm known as steampunk.

La Grand MasqueradeTexas Tech University—The Great Masquerade takes adventurers of young and old on an immersive, role-playing experience through the city of Venice to uncover magical mysteries of villainy, explore hidden treasures of the past, and discover new imaginative challenges on a whodunit mystery tour. Alongside “living characters,” “agents” will fight villainy, solve ancient mysteries and encounter tales of illustrious magic whilst discovering the city’s rich cultural history.

Line 55, University of Nevada, Reno—Line 55 is an entertainment underground transportation system set in the city of Chicago, featuring four distinct, adventure-filled routes to various themed locations throughout the city. Guests will be able to “travel” into classic literature plots including a sci-fi space mission, a far-away jungle expedition, a deep ocean dive and a historic Chicago adventure with corresponding themed destinations within the downtown area.

Congratulations to this year’s finalist teams! Check back after the conclusion of the competition to hear about the finalists’ experiences while visiting Walt Disney Imagineering, and to learn more about the first-place team and their project.