“To all who come to this happy place, welcome!”
With those words, Walt Disney introduced the world to Disneyland. And with those same words, I welcome you to this long-time dream called Imagineering Education, a dream that really began during a visit to Walt’s other happy place known as The Magic Kingdom. It was there in 2010, as I explored Tom Sawyer’s Island with my three young sons and stood watching them play in Scavenger’s Fort, that an idea came to mind. Having spent the previous three days playing and laughing our way through Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and MGM Studios, it occurred to me how much we’d all learned while also having fun. We had discovered fascinating facts about various world cultures while making our way through the World Showcase at EPCOT, gained a newfound appreciation of ongoing conservation efforts in Animal Kingdom, and so, so much more.
“How cool would it be to bring kids on field trips to Disney World?” I thought. As I pondered the logistics of that for a moment, another thought came to mind. “What if instead we designed schools like Disney designs theme parks?” The idea lingered the rest of the day, and never went away.
Over the next three years I studied the ways in which Disney Imagineers carefully design every space, every sight, every smell, every sound, to create incredibly immersive experiences that engage us emotionally and leave long-lasting impressions. Along the way, I developed connections between the work they do and the work I was doing as an educator. The culmination of this work came in 2013 when I was blessed with the opportunity to speak at TEDxGreenville on the topic of designing engaging and immersive learning experiences in schools. That talk, "Reimagineering Education," became the spark that ignited the dream of sharing these ideas with others.
Time passed. Life happened. More important things took priority. But the dream never faded.
With continued encouragement from my wife who has helped me navigate the ups-and-downs, the starts-and-stops and "oh so close moments" of making this work, it's time to heed my own advice from that original talk. It's time to shift from just dreaming into actually doing.
One of my favorite Disney characters is the tiny purple dragon known as Figment. As he and his creator, The Dreamfinder, like to say,
One little spark of inspiration
is at the heart of all creation.
Right at the start of everything that’s new,
one little spark lights up for you.
It’s our desire, here “at the start of everything that’s new,” that Imagineering Education will be that spark of inspiration for you, both personally and professionally. Through our presentations, workshops, webinars, blog posts and podcast episodes, we hope to equip you with an increased ability to do the same for your students, your business, and your family, as well.
A dream can be a dream come true, with just that spark in me and you.
Let’s dream together. Let’s work together.
Let’s Imagineer Education.
Now, let’s get started….