Review: The Imagineering Story: The Midas Touch

The Imagineering Story Title Episode 3

The Imagineering Story still provides a great arc of the entire story of the Disney Parks from the perspective of the people who made them.

This episode starts with the arrival of Michael Eisner and tells the story of Imagineering finally finding their footing without looking back at what Walt Disney would have done. It brings WED from the brink of being shut down to thriving as much as they have ever been under their new name, Walt Disney Imagineering.

This episode chronicles several attractions, including Star Tours and Disney's MGM Studios.

Eisner's movie background is showcased as giving him an insight into what would be successful today at the parks, what kind of films, what kind of experiences.

Now anyone who knows anything about Michael Eisner knows that he is somewhat of a controversial figure in Disney history. Some of his ideas were great, and others, to put it lightly were not. This episode focuses mainly on the great ones, leading to the years where there wasn't as much success. 

With this we start moving into more modern classics like Splash Mountain, explaining the background behind them, like how it was designed with using the America Sings animatronics in mind.

We also venture into the doomed Disney Decade, looking at some of the early projects that did actually get built like Euro Disneyland (now Disneyland Paris).

This is where we get into the failures. We enter the Euro Disneyland project with protests, and the need to top the beauty of both the original two castle parks and the architecture of Europe much of it would be inspired by itself.

But the documentary doesn't dwell in the controversy, instead going on deep dives into each of the opening day lands of Euro Disneyland, and how they were approached differently for a European audience.

For me, the highlight of this episode was watching the Main Street Electrical Parade go under Euro Disneyland's Lights of Winter. I always loved the Lights of Winter in Epcot, so seeing it combined with one of the best parades Disney has ever built was truly stunning.

Then we go back into the controversy and the accused cultural imperialism of Euro Disneyland and the economic downturn that led to the resort's early failure.

Again it doesn't want to dwell in the controversies and failures, moving over to the early successes of MGM Studios, from MuppetVision to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The last major attraction that we get a look at is the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, which we see push the limits of a dark ride and a simulator.

We end with what will surely be a transition into the darker side of Eisner's tenure at Disney, with the sudden death of Frank Wells in a helicopter crash. This led to the removal of the partnership that had benefited Imagineering throughout all the projects discussed in this documentary.

Once again this documentary is shockingly honest. In just the last five minutes it really gives you a feeling for the systemic shift in how the theme parks were run without as much care for detail in the wake of Well's death.

The documentary manages to show the vision and inspiration behind even the failures of the day, telling the stories not only of the people who made them, but what the attractions were meant to tell guests, even if they didn't get the proper chance.

What did you think of this episode? Are you looking forward to more of The Imagineering Story? Let us know in the comments below!