Creating happiness is hard work. This six-hour saga by Academy Award nominated director, Leslie Iwerks, chronicles the sixty-seven year history of Walt Disney Imagineering, a place best described as equal parts artist studio, design center, think tank and innovation laboratory. This is where an eclectic group of creative people bring ideas to life. They’re responsible for building twelve theme parks around the world - the Happiest Places on Earth.
Walt Disney gathers a group of artists and engineers for the purpose of building a dream into reality. These ‘Imagineers’ formulate a set of design principles that transport people from their everyday lives to lands of imagination. Never has there been a place with themed environments, faithful to a story. Walt Disney vows, unlike a film that gets finished, Disneyland will never be completed.
Bob Iger personally shepherds his labor of love, the Shanghai Disney Resort. The Imagineers customize an ambitious new theme park to fit China’s culture, a symbol of patience and collaboration. Meanwhile, through innovative technology and immersive placemaking, the beloved pop culture worlds of Avatar, Marvel and Star Wars come to life. Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks.
After a tragic downturn, Michael Eisner steps back from creative stress and hires business minded managers to fill the void. The pendulum swings from art to commerce. The Imagineers enter an era of austerity. While some projects enjoy enormous success, others are cancelled, and still others, disappoint. The pattern seems irreversible. Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks.
Without Walt’s guidance, the development of Florida’s Walt Disney World is a risky endeavor, but Roy O. Disney fulfills his brother’s wish. A second generation of designers carry out the last of Walt’s ideas - EPCOT, where the Imagineers achieve a higher purpose beyond entertainment. Simultaneously, the first international park opens in Japan. No future plans threaten the survival of the company.
Michael Eisner and Frank Wells save Imagineering and encourage widespread growth. They make Disney cool and relevant with teenagers. Every design project the Imagineers touch turns to gold. The crown jewel, Euro Disneyland, goes over budget and encounters resistance. Poor press coverage and cultural missteps cause low attendance. Humbled, management shies away from future Magic Kingdoms.
Bob Iger returns Imagineering to the foundation of Disney DNA - quality wins out. He modernizes the formula. By strategically investing in creative content, international expansion and new technology, he empowers the Imagineers to plus the existing parks worldwide, especially the recent ones that fell short of expectations. After a decade, the parks never looked better. Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks.