By Aaron Perine
Disney Parks is celebrating Black History Month with a new campaign called Reimagine Tomorrow. Black cast members and other workers are being spotlighted for their role in making these parks run. Lanny Smoot, Research Fellow at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Research & Development is up first. He helped bring The Haunted Mansion to life with some of the practical effects on that attraction. He’s gotten more than 100 patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office associated with his work. That’s the most of anyone in the Walt Disney Company, so he’s a fountain of innovation. He talked about his experiences.
“Growing up, our family did not have a lot of money,” Lanny began. “My dad was a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and taught himself how to make many mechanical gadgets, including several of my early toys. One of my earliest childhood memories was him bringing home an electric bell, a light bulb, some batteries and wire. He set up the bell to ring and the bulb to light, and that light lit my career!”
“My mindset is to create things that are fun, entertaining, often surprising and, hopefully, a bit ahead of their time,” he added. “At Disney, I can work on cutting edge technologies that are designed to make people happy. What’s not to like?!”
“We’re always trying to give our guests new experiences – things that they have not seen anywhere else in the world. I’m proud to be a part of the research and development organization at Disney because we are constantly adding to our parks, our cruise ships and more… Some ideas that we create won’t ever be seen by guests,” Lanny continued. “We pick the best of our technologies to finally roll out, and we’re constantly inventing, and constantly trying to live up to Walt’s dream – that our work will never be done as long as we have guests to entertain.”
He concluded, “We need to give young students – especially Black students and people of color – experience in these fields. The Walt Disney Company is digging deeply into this by making sure that we mentor diverse young people, and I’ve done that many times myself.”
Do you love The Haunted Mansion? Did you love it? Let us know down in the comments!
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