Review: The Imagineering Story Episode 2

Disney+ The Imagineering Story Poster

Welcome to our review of the second episode in Disney+'s original documentary series, The Imagineering Story.

While the first episode was more of a glowing take on the Walt years of the Disney Parks, this episode gets a little darker. It provides an honest take of what happened to Imagineering and the wider Disney company following Walt Disney's death, and how the company chose to move forward without him.

We first see them complete the preexisting projects that Walt had started but never finished. This takes us through projects like the Haunted Mansion and the opening of the Magic Kingdom, fully acknowledging the role Roy Disney had in making sure his brother's legacy was secure and his final ideas were realized to the best of his ability.

There is less rare footage in this part of the episode than in the premiere but it instead provides a nuanced take on the organized chaos following Walt Disney's death.

It then moves on to talk about the abandonment of Walt's last dream, EPCOT as a city and instead turning the idea into Epcot Center, a theme park built on the same principles, testing the Imagineers to see if they could move beyond the Walt designed castle park design. This section, while not diving deep into any of the beloved classic Epcot Center attractions, provides a brief glimpse into the ambitious park.

Then there is a section on Tokyo Disneyland, and how it was seen more as a test for international developments in general and used mostly preexisting rides as opposed to new designs. The documentary also does a great job of explaining why this park was a success, with the post-WWII censorship introducing the Japanese audience to Disney films. Its resounding success is used in an obvious way to set up the future international failures of Euro Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland.

We see the Imagineers finding their new normal in these two projects, only for it to be ripped out in the financial struggles the rest of the company was facing.

The episode ends on a somewhat unhappy note, with the entire Disney company facing hostile takeovers and financial struggles, likely to set up Michael Eisner as the savior of Disney as a company (which was true regardless of opinions on any of his individual projects).

This episode does a good job of bridging the gap between two major and famous artistic visionaries of the Disney Parks, Walt Disney and Michael Eisner. It shows the reorganization of the company and the creation of many of the standards still in use by the company today. It is surprisingly honest and nuanced for a documentary made by the company it is chronicling the history of and it does not shy away from some of the more negative parts of the company's history.

Let us hope future episodes are as honest about the company's history, as we are entering territory with a lot of infighting and famous flops.

If you missed it, be sure to check out our review of the first episode here, and check back as we will be reviewing every episode as it comes out.