ROSWELL, Ga. – Disney theme parks are known for their creativity and innovation. It takes a lot to create a living world.
Roswell resident and Roswell High School graduate Jonathan Plsek was part of a team who recently were flown out to Disney in California to take part in a design competition.
Walt Disney Imagineering holds the annual “Imaginations” competition to gather creative people from throughout the country to pitch ideas to Disney’s creative minds. It also allows the competitors a chance to meet Disney designers and see their processes.
Plsek was part of a group of students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
The finalists in the competition were given a five-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Imagineering’s headquarters in Glendale, Calif., in late January, where they presented their projects to Imagineering executives, met and networked with technical and creative Imagineers, went behind the scenes where Disney magic is created and interviewed for paid internships, culminating in an awards ceremony on Jan. 31.
“It’s my dream to work at Disney,” Plsek said. “When I go to a Disney park, all the cynicism and worry leaves me.”
Plsek is a graphic designer. He was approached by the other members of his team at SCAD to create art for their Imaginations concept.
For this year’s Imaginations design competition, students from American universities and colleges were given the challenge to select a large and densely populated urban area and design an experience that temporarily or permanently transforms the city for the enjoyment of its citizens and visitors. The experience must take advantage of existing infrastructure, and may be above, below or anywhere in between existing development.
“The more I read about it, the more I realized this was a real opportunity to know the industry and the business and someday get involved with the corporation,” he said.
Their idea was to set up a vacant stadium – such as Candlestick Park, from which they modeled their idea – and create an interactive storytelling game. Visitors move through rooms solving puzzles to progress.
“It’s all about immersing yourself in a story,” he said. “It’s teamwork and family fun. When you reach the inner stadium area, you find a life-size recreation of Peter Pan’s Neverland.
“It was total pie in the sky but if we’re going to dream, we’re going to dream big,” he said.
Plsek and his team were finalists but did not make the final cut. They did get to meet and interview professionals at Disney, and came away with some inside thoughts on the company and how the magic is made.
“Disney is the biggest entertainment brand in the world,” he said. “The work they do is so good and the quality so high you can’t help but want to be a part of it. But you cannot just wander into it. It’s important to make sure you’re finding your focus early and go at it. Goals are important.
“When I quit my previous job to go back to school, I had to explain why. When I mentioned I wanted to work for Disney, people’s eyes lit up,” he said. “They realized I was chasing after my dream and I could see them remember that dream they left behind. It’s never too late to stop chasing a dream.”