Review: Imagineering Story Episode 4: Hit or Miss

The Imagineering Story Title Episode 4 Hit or Miss

The fourth episode of The Imagineering Story follows a somewhat strange period for the Imagineers, where they were brought away from their theme park roots, with the results being a mixed bag of successes and failures.

It starts with a rundown of the kind of odd jobs assigned to the Imagineers following the creative step back of Michael Eisner, from moderate successes like the Anaheim Angles stadium redesign to the start of the Disney Cruise Line.

We spend a lot of time with the early development of the Disney Cruise Line and there is a lot of great footage from the construction of the first two cruise ships and the backstage of one of the theaters. The interviews this section chronicle the challenges of land-based Imagineers designing the sea-based cruise ships.

Following this, we go into the failed projects of the era starting with Disney's America, a failed proposal for a Disney Park based on the history of the United States. This has some of the largest amounts of rare concept art of any project we've had that didn't actually open. It then went into the controversy over the proposed location, in the middle of actual historic sites.

Then we go into a great section of Joe Rhode telling us of how Disney’s Animal Kingdom managed to get built despite the difficult working conditions, including some great early blue sky concept art for the park. It also tells how they learned from the Disney’s America controversy and planned responses to the anticipated controversial aspects of the park.

Then we get to something I never expected to see, footage from some of the educational trips taken by Joe Rhode to research Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This provides a grounding to both the episode and the park.

After this comes something we have come to expect of the series, rare footage of testing attractions. This time we get a look at Imagineers testing rides like Rocket Rods and raft rides.

Then we get to see another park being created for the era, Tokyo DisneySea, which was only created when Tokyo demanded an entirety original park. We get great footage of testing of attractions from Aquatopia and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The Imagineers also point out the difference in OLC management with designing for Disney, as OLC would not accept cut corners.

Returning stateside, the documentary becomes shocking in its honesty talking about Paul Pressler’s reign as head of Disneyland.

The documentary isn’t kind to Disney California Adventure, with the only attraction not getting criticized was Soarin’ Over California. It is negatively compared in terms of budget and vision to Tokyo DisneySea.

The failure of Walt Disney Studios is then glossed over as a contractual obligation as opposed to having any kind of vision.

The documentary ends with a look at Hong Kong Disneyland, with Disney once again not recognizing the cultural differences involved in building a Disney Park in another country. The problem wasn't the park itself but that it didn't cater enough to who was visiting it.

In the wake of all these failures, Michael Eisner was ousted as CEO.

The documentary series continues its full honesty of all the good, and especially in this episode, the bad, of the history of Imagineering. It has been honest and is willing to admit when something was a mistake and that has been to its benefit.

What did you think about this episode? Let us know in the comments below.