Angeline Chen & Teammates win Disney Imaginations Challenge

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By: 
Angeline Chen

Congratulations to Angeline Chen and her team on winning this year Walt Disney Imagineering ImagiNations Design Competition. The team tackled the following project challenge: “There are many wonderful urban environments around the world where millions of people live, work and play every day. Select a large and densely populated urban area, and design an experience that temporarily or permanently transforms the city for the enjoyment of its citizens and visitors. The experience must take advantage of existing infrastructure, and may be above, below or anywhere in between existing development.”

Angeline gives her first person account of her experience in Glendale, California, here.

My name is Angeline Chen and I am currently a junior Communication Design major, minoring in HCI and Chinese Studies.  Last semester, a team of 3 other CMU undergraduate students and I entered the 2014 Walt Disney Imagineers ImagiNations design competition.  A few weeks ago, our team, among six other team finalist, traveled to WDI Headquarters in Glendale, CA and placed first in the competition.

Our team’s project, “Antipode”, meaning two points on the globe that are directly across from each other, is a two-week long festival of cultural exchange between Lima, Peru and Bangkok, Thailand.  We wanted to bring Disney to new and exciting locales across the globe by leveraging its talents, resources and innovative creativity. The Antipode festival transforms each city and swaps essential elements from the two for citizens of the opposite cities to discover and explore.By learning about the opposite city, locals are able to examine similarities and differences between the antipodes, ultimately resulting in an examination of their own city’s unique culture.

Our interdisciplinary team consisted of Matt Ho, team leader and fifth year Architecture major, Christina Brant, fifth year double majoring in Architecture and HCI, and John Brieger, a senior in the school of Computer Science, and myself.  We worked very collaboratively through the entire project, from ideation to production.  It was a great experience to work with people outside of design because we often forget that others either naturally or are trained to think differently than we do.  We found that, during the ideation stage, using a “design thinking” or iterative design process really allowed us to focus on the experience we were delivering, the concept behind all the smaller details. This helped drive our entire project and the elements of our project became cohesive to the whole and purposeful individually. We were also able to ask peers from our perspective majors and campus organizations to come listen to our presentation and give us critique on ways to improve the delivery and content of our project.  

The week in Glendale was truly a magical experience. We were able to meet and chat with Imagineers, some of whom have been with Disney for a couple months and others for more than 30 years.  What was awesome was that they were all genuinely interested and excited about our projects.  We also got to see a bit of what they do and how Disney Imagineering functions to create innovative, new experiences to their guests everyday. The biggest thing that I took away from the week is just how dedicated Disney is to telling a story and creating an experience.  There is no such thing as coincidence when it comes to a Disney experience because so much thought goes into every small detail of each experience.  What’s even more amazing is that they are constantly working to bring the experience to a new level. When I reflect on this, it challenges me to go the extra mile to bring an experience to its fullest potential and inspires me to explore seemingly impossible ideas.

The Walt Disney Imagineering ImagiNations Design Competition is really an amazing opportunity for students to discover and develop a new Disney experience.  I couldn’t feel more thankful for my team members, the Imagineers and other finalists I met in California, and for the chance to have this once in a lifetime experience.

Date Published: 
Friday, February 14, 2014
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