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The Disney Parks & Resorts division had little to offer this year at the D23 Expo in terms of  announcements and sneak peeks into upcoming attractions.  To compensate, however, Walt Disney Imagineering lifted its veil of secrecy (to a certain extent), and in honor of its 60th anniversary, offered D23 Expo guests a Journey Into Imagineering with a mock ‘open house’ of the 1401 Flower Street campus in Glendale.  This open house provided a detailed look at the various aspects of Imagineering and some rare peeks into how they achieve magic at the Disney theme parks.

The entry into the Journey Into Imagineering pavilion closely resembles the front entrance of the actual 1401 Flower Street building at the Walt Disney Imagineering campus in Glendale.

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After the Imagineering overview presentation inside the front entrance, we see a retro construct that resembles the post-show construct found at the old Adventure Through Inner Space attraction in Disneyland.

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A scale model of the upcoming Disney Springs (improvement project for Downtown Disney) at Walt Disney World was on display.

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Also on display was a set of mysterious crates labeled ‘Orange Harvest’.  As Star Wars fans are aware, ‘Blue Harvest’ was the production code name for Return of the Jedi, so this is obviously a play on that title.  The crates also had labels such as ‘Lightsaber Assortment’ and ‘Bantha Milk’.  A set of Star Wars labeled blueprints were also sticking out of one of the crates.  This was obviously a ‘tease’ or ‘hint’ (without giving anything away) that Imagineering was working on new Star Wars attractions.

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A similar tease was present for Avatar in the objects present at a mock Imagineering cubicle.

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Spread throughout the pavilion were various scale models, including one for the never-built Western River Expedition.

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The original scale model for EPCOT Center’s Land Pavilion (designed by Tony Baxter) was on display.

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The ‘Show Animation’ section demonstrated how audio-animatronics figures are brought to life.

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The Hatbox Ghost missing from Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion was on display along with an animation control board.

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Models and maquettes were on display at ‘Dimensional Design’.

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The original Italian marble statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs previously on display in Disneyland since 1958 and removed in 1982 are rarely seen outside of Imagineering, but were on display here.  The statues in Disneyland today are actually replicas of these originals.

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Gargoyle maquettes from the Beast’s Castle at Magic Kingdom park were on display.

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Here is a scale model of the Orbitron from Disneyland Paris.

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‘Show Production’ featured artist renderings, paint and lots more paint.

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An Imagineer was on hand to demonstrate how show buildings were painted to show age, texture and realism.

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‘Research & Development’ is where Imagineering’s greatest technological achievements are developed.

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Hong Kong Disneyland’s ‘Mystic Point’ was on display for ‘Architecture & Engineering’, which involves architecture, structural engineering, landscaping and civil engineering of themed areas.

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‘Ride Engineering’ showed how ride vehicles and systems were created and designed.

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The ‘Special Effects Illusioneering Lab’ was an in-depth overview of different special effects techniques used in theme park attractions.  The story of Yale Gracey and how he was hired by Walt Disney to design the effects of the Haunted Mansion was explained by the host Imagineers.

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DISH or ‘Digital Immersive Showroom’ was the virtual reality technology used to visualize the ride experience in a life-size way.  DISH overviews of Radiator Springs Racers, Test Track and Mystic Manor were on display.

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Finally, guests were given a preview of the MagicBand and MyMagic+, coming to the Walt Disney World Resort.  This RFID-based technology allows guests to use their own MagicBand to store theme park tickets, payment information, hotel room keys and Fastpass-like scheduling information.

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