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Imagineering Toy Story Land – Graphic Design in a Walt Disney World Land

June 29, 2018

ORLANDO, FL–As part of our ongoing coverage of the grand opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, we had a chance to talk to Walt Disney Imagineering Graphic Designer Alexis Cummins on what it was like to work on a Disney Parks expansion project.


Alexis Cummins, Walt Disney Imagineering What was your path to Walt Disney Imagineering?

Alexis Cummins: “As a kid I was always inspired by Imagineering, had a very active imagination and desired to work at Disney. I ultimately landed an internship through Walt Disney Imagineering and have had the privilege to work on the Toy Story Land project.” What role does graphic design play in the multi-disciplinary effort to bring something like Toy Story Land to life?

Alexis Cummins: “Graphic design is helpful in so many different ways, from the ideation right through to development of the project. Having a graphic designer present at the beginning of a concept helps determine what visuals we’re able to develop, what products and packaging we’re ultimately going to have out in the land, and how Andy’s imagination is represented visually.” How do you create a design language that achieves consistency in the physical world of a theme park and the virtual world of the source animated films?

Alexis Cummins: “It’s always a balancing act. We go back to the films constantly to do research and reference what Andy would have done, because we’re really getting inside Andy’s brain and his imagination, and ultimately creating what would have been Andy’s vision. We do balance Walt Disney Imagineering with the film source material: meaning how to make something as small as toys, that fit in the palm of your hand, larger than life. To get those details just right means thinking of things like how wood grain looks on a letter block when scaled up.” How much of Toy Story Land is designed ahead of time, and how much is artistry on the spot?

Alexis Cummins: “I wish I could say that we didn’t think through every detail but honestly we do, from design right through to production. We really do painstakingly go through and research all the details necessary to bring the concept to life in the field.” What are the details that you think are most cool, that may not be obvious during a first visit?

Alexis Cummins: “One of the things I love about Toy Story Land is that it’s a completely different experience at night. I think the transformation from day to night will be a huge surprise for guests who have a chance to experience the land in the day and at night. There are so many light details and effects that have gone into our attractions to activate them at night. For example, on Slinky Dog Dash there are lights chasing the coaster and on Alien Swirling Saucers we have fun lights and music to help activate the space at night.” Of the things you’ve worked on what are most proud of?

Alex Cummins: “We all work very collaboratively so as a team one of my favorite details is the pizza columns because there was a huge amount of integration from different disciplines. The pizza glass in particular is a unique detail because the glass has a very different effect during the day than at night. The glass casts all these crazy, awesome shadows that I think guests will love.” What makes Toy Story Land special for you as a guest?

Alex Cummins: “There are so many different things! My favorite thing has been to enjoy Toy Story Land with my family. I’ve had the opportunity to walk through with my mom and she was completely smitten with Slinky Dog because it was a toy that she had as a kid. It was amazing to see her reaction.” What advice do you have for students who aspire to work at Disney Imagineering?

Alex Cummins: “On a broader level I’d say always try to be better today than the day before. No matter what you are doing keep being inspired, keep bringing your imagination to the table and try to get as good as you can in any discipline you are working in.

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