During the In-Home press event for Disney’s Tomorrowland (out Oct. 13), I had the chance to sit down with Producer of Disney Imagineering Charita Carter. Carter has had some big parts in creating some memorable Disney attractions all around the world. In this interview, we go a bit behind-the-scenes of Disney Imagineering and hear all about the great things that came from Disney and about things yet to come!
Chris “The Scoop” Salce: Your job title sounds amazing just as it is but can you tell me what goes into being producer of Disney Imagineering?
Charita Carter: Well Imagineering has over one hundred and forty-one disciplines, that’s a lot of ground. I personally am a creative producer and I work within the creative division. A lot of my work has been on the front of what they call Blue Sky or the ideation aspect of our attractions, where we come up with the ideas. And then I’ve had the privilege of working with a development team that is focused on creating new techniques and tools for manifesting those ideas. So I have both of those things going as a part of my role.
Chris: So you do the ideas for everything from shows to rides for the Disney theme parks, I can only imagine how long the process takes for a specific attraction. How long can the development process last for? I imagine up to a few years on some right?
Charita Carter: Well it varies by attraction and it depends on the complexity of the attraction. To give you an example, I’ve done overlays where we haven’t had a ride system or haven’t had to impact the ride itself. My fastest one has been one here at Disneyland, the Indiana Jones Adventure. We did it in three months. I’ve had a project that has been two years, I’m currently working on a project that is going on three and a half, and could go onto about four or five years depending on the complexity.
Chris: Everybody is excited about the whole Star Wars attractions coming to the Disney parks, I’m one of them, can you tell me anything about some of the Star Wars related attractions coming and how it’s going so far?
Charita Carter: In all honesty, I can’t really tell you much and that’s by design. I’m not on that project and those of us that aren’t currently working on it, really don’t know a lot about it yet and so we are going to be as excited as a lot of the public (laughs). We might know a little bit before you but not very much (laughs).
Chris: Are there any projects that you are currently working on that you can maybe tell us a little bit about while not giving too much away?
Charita Carter: No, other than the fact that I can say that we are doing some very innovative, unique things that we’ll be bringing to our guests. There’s a number of reason why we don’t talk about our attractions prior to them being announced. I always think of it as these (projects) are our babies and they are in a very vulnerable state and you want to let them mature and grow before you bring them out in public. All I can say is that we have a very, very robust menu coming and I think our guests are going to be blown away on a number of different levels. That’s all I can say (laughs).
Chris: Well every time something new comes out at Disneyland, it’s always amazing. I can’t wait but I understand why you guys keep everything very tight-lipped. What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on so far?
Charita Carter: Okay, now you qualified it because I usually get asked that question and I say ‘my favorite project is the one I’m currently doing,’ but so far… if I had to pick from something that I’ve done from the past, it actually would not be something that we did for the park, it would have to be something that we did for the original D23 back in 2009. We called it ‘The Storytellers Sandbox.’ It was this really fun interactive experience where we had these pits of sand and we used projections and guests could come in and they were led by a narrator and could get their hands dirty and build things and the projection would respond. The thing that I loved about it was how intuitive it was for young kids, they would jump in it and get it right away. Sometimes the adults would be hesitant and they would kind of watch to see what was happening but it really appealed to people of all ages. At a D23 situation where you get a lot of guests coming in and you can just really observe and watch them experience that, I think that’s something that I’ll never forget. Often times with an attraction, we can come down and hang out at the exit, which I do sometimes or ride the ride and see how people are experiencing it, but D23 is a unique opportunity just to see how people would respond to something we had worked on and that was really really rewarding.
Chris: Disney has come up with so much technology that you don’t see anywhere else. Disney has always been very innovative. How is it to see all the new technology in development, when you’re working on these projects?
Charita Carter: I have to say it’s very exciting and I think a lot of what we are seeing in terms of really pushing the envelope when it comes to new technologies and innovation, new techniques, is really built upon the foundation of what Walt started. When I see it, I see that we are really staying with our true north because that’s what Walt was really all about. To bring new experiences and to using that technology out there to do something new. So that is the bane of our existence if you will. It’s what we are constantly focusing on and that’s the thing that’s unique about Imagineering, we have the opportunity to focus on driving innovation. Everybody likes to innovate but our focus is on driving that innovation, so that we can tell stories and get new experiences in front of our guests. When you’re working in that environment, it’s very exciting and it kind of feeds upon itself. I work with a lot of people who truly believe that nothing is impossible. That makes for very exciting work sessions (laughs).
Chris: What is your favorite attraction here at Disneyland?
Charita Carter: That’s a hard one because I love so many different attractions and I have to break it down by park possibly. The ride I have been on the most would be Space Mountain and I say that because it was one of those rights of passage for me when I got tall enough to get on it (laughs). I was so proud and I had such an amazing experience and that has always stayed with me, so when I have the opportunity to go ride it, I do. Over at Disney California Adventure, that’s hard….Carsland, it just blows me away. I love ‘Soaring’ but the beautiful thing about our parks is that there’s really something for everybody. There’s very little that I don’t like. I love to move fast and I just really love something that I have never experienced before, so I kind of gravitate to a number of those attractions. Each park offers a very unique offering. You have to experience it all.
Stay tuned for more Tomorrowland and Disneyland coverage within the coming days!