Home » 8 Ways to Think Like a Disney Imagineer

    8 Ways to Think Like a Disney Imagineer

    Disney Imagineers are famous for dreaming big and doing the impossible. These outrageously creative minds are behind all the stunning pieces of Disney magic that guests enjoy around the world every day. If you’re stuck in a rut and looking for a fresh new way to approach your next project, take a cue from the Disney Imagineers and try these tricks.

    8. Stop Talking

    Walt himself said it: “The way to get started is to stop talking and start doing.” If you’ve been talking about a new project for months without making any progress, it’s time to take a cue from the ultimate Imagineer and take action. Don’t stagnate – move. Even if you’re not sure you’re moving in the right direction, fear has no place in an Imagineer’s mind.

    7. Consider the Story

    Imagineers are famous for telling a story with every project. They don’t build a roller coaster just to thrill. They build it to tell a thrilling tale. Every last detail of a Disney project plays into the overall story. Use this technique in your own projects by thinking through your own story.

    If you’re decorating your living room, think about the stories you want to play out there. Do you want the space to tell the story of warm family gatherings? What do you need to accomplish that? Include a shelf for board games, a low coffee table, and piles of floor cushions if your story includes kids gathered around for family game night. Frame your television in curtains and place a standing popcorn machine in the corner if you envision theater-inspired movie nights in the space.

    From start to finish, let every project you put together tell someone a story.

    6. Get Inspired

    Even the Imagineers have their favorite artists, musicians, and writers. If you can’t list your own inspirational favorites, it’s time to do some searching and find them. Start reading books, visiting art museums, or watching classic movies. Get to know the greats and identify what speaks deeply to you. You may find a new source of inspiration in an unexpected place.

    5. Learn to “Blue Sky”

    Imagineers don’t just brainstorm, they blue sky. This type of creative thinking gets its name from the idea that the sky is the limit. When you’re approaching a new project, use the blue sky method to really get your creative juices flowing. This means that you don’t throw anything out on the first round, no matter how strange or impossible it seems.

    If you’re working on a creative menu for your Mother’s Day brunch and pickles spring to mind, write down pickles. Don’t second guess yourself or argue with the idea. Write it down and keep going. Let your ideas flow on to the next thing. You may find that a sweet relish complements your savory casserole perfectly even if the dill pickles that you first envisioned aren’t a perfect fit.

    4. Immerse Yourself in Your Subject

    Finding NemoFinding Nemo

    Whatever your topic is, dive in head first and allow it to consume you. This is a strategy suggested by many Imagineers in “The Imagineering Workout.” If you’re designing an aquarium, hit the beach, set your screensaver to aquatic themes, put Finding Nemo on repeat, read guidebooks about scuba adventures, go snorkeling, and listen to beach music. Fill your mind with fishy thoughts (no, not that kind) until you’re seeing fins even when there’s no direct correlation. That’s when the really creative ideas will start flowing.

    3. Re-Learn How to Play

    Children are naturally imaginative. They don’t know yet what’s possible or impossible so they can think without the pesky constraints that adults face. If you have kids, get down on the floor and play with them. If not, try to recapture your own childhood. Play with your favorite elementary school toys. Break out the play dough and coloring books. Re-read beloved childhood stories. Go back to a simpler time and see what emerges.

    2. Cut Down on Distractions

    Some Imagineers find their inspiration during a quiet car ride. Others find that brilliance strikes during a meditative workout. The common element is silence. If you fill your day with music, television, apps, conversation, and general noise, you won’t be able to hear your ideas even if they’re screaming for you to let them out. Lay quietly in bed and let your mind roam instead of watching TV. Drive or run without a soundtrack. You might be surprised at what fills the silence.

    1. Delve Deeper into Your Reactions

    You may have a general idea of what you like and don’t like, but have you explored these feelings deeper? Stop to really experience something you love. Think about why you love it. Do the cool colors soothe you? Are you in love with the gentle rhythmic percussion? Really identify the elements that speak to you. Do this same exercise with things that you dislike. You may begin to find common elements that lead you to new inspirations for your projects.

    This will also help you pitch your ideas to others, whether you’re selling a project to your boss or your family. If you find your audience wavering, you’ll be prepared to point out the appealing details that make it a sure winner.

    These little tricks will help you approach every project like a pro. Jump outside your usual constraints and do something new. Let Imagineering be your guide.