Disney competition summons students’ creativity

How would you like karaoke with the Jonas Brothers and have Simba from “The Lion King” in the audience? That is exactly what some senior interior design students are creating for a competition hosted by Disney

Elizabeth Tamez, an adjunct instructor in the department of design merchandising and textiles, said the 18th annual ImagiNations national design competition in which students create a new Disney attraction is a great opportunity for students to be exposed to a national-level competition and to work together creatively on ideas that they normally would not get a chance to develop.

Allison Morris, a senior interior design major whose team project is a theme-park ride based on the Disney movie “Meet the Robinsons,” said senior interior design students in the Special Purpose Design class were required to apply for the competition. She said the students could design anything from a ride, hotel, theme park or restaurant and they could use Disney characters or create new ones.

The competition was created by the Disney Imagineers, who are responsible for the creation and expansion of all elements at the Disney theme parks and resorts, according to the Disney Web site.

Amanda Estrada, a senior interior design major, said the students got into groups of three or four to brainstorm the “next big thing” for Disney. Estrada said students had to pass through a preliminary round of submitting their resumes before they could submit the project their group wanted to do. About three or four groups made it past the first round of resume submissions out of a class of 22, she said.

Estrada’s group designed a virtual karaoke theater where a person could do a performance in 3-D and have it recorded, she said.

For the second round, Estrada’s team submitted a story board and a paper outlining the team’s idea for the attraction it created.

Estrada said that in her team’s attraction, people can be taken backstage before their performance to get their hair and makeup done, and are then given a virtual tablet that gives them options like choosing a background of where to sing, who to sing with and who they want in the audience.

“Someone could choose to sing The Little Mermaid theme song and sing it with Hannah Montana and have Winnie the Pooh and the Jonas Brothers in the audience,” Estrada said.

She said her team got the idea for the project by talking to her younger cousins and other children. The team came to the consensus that Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers were popular right now.

Morris said the teams will find out April 17 if they have moved on to the next stage of the competition, where the final teams will go to California over the summer to present their project in front of the Disney Imagineers against other teams from around the nation.

Estrada said that not all of the finalists will get internships or job opportunities with Disney, but students were told internship opportunities were possible.

Tamez said she hopes that students that applied for the competition gain some knowledge about learning how to apply their skills outside of the normal realm and that they have fun doing it.