Ringling Students Finalists in Imagineering Competition



Designs on a two-tiered train could land a select group of Ringling College of Art and Design students with the opportunity to design tomorrow’s theme park attractions. A team of students from different disciplines is in California this week competing in the Walt Disney Imaginations Design Competition, where six finalist teams will present to Disney Imagineering executives, who will judge projects and interview competitors for internships with the company. “This was definitely always a childhood dream of mine,” said Elizabeth Fox, Business of Art and Design major, “but I never knew how to make it happen.”

The competition has been held annually by Disney Imagineering now for 24 years. In recent iterations, teams undertake a specific design challenge, this year the creation of major city transportation that employed theme park and resort concepts and philosophies. The Ringling team’s project proposed an elevated train with two tiers—a top one for commuters and then one underneath that catered to tourists—to run around New Orleans. A variation off a monorail like those used at Disney parks, the bottom train gets the frills, with digital overlays that put images of historic New Orleans atop the modern scenery outside. In addition to Fox, the Ringling team includes Computer Animation major John McDonald and Illustration majors Diana Han and Josh Newton. “Normally at Ringling, people with three different majors would never come together on a project, but because of this, we got to meet great people and work with people who do not usually work with the same skill set,” said McDonald.

Soledad Boyle, Disney Imagineering intern program manager, said the proposals submitted for the competition won’t ever be built in real life, but are meant to see what ideas individuals conceive in a sky’s-the-limit set of parameters. For Disney Imagineering, the true goal is to find the strengths prospective employees may bring to projects already in the works for Disney theme parks or resorts. Presentations to judges kicked off Monday, and final winners will be announced in a ceremony on Friday, but in terms of job prospects, being named finalist teams is an important step because it puts the students in California for interviews with executives.

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