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Park People

Q Lines Gary Goddard 10 years of The

Gary Goddard entered the parks and attractions business in the early ‘70s when he directed the Hoop Dee Doo dinner show at Walt Disney World before becoming one the company’s youngest ever Imagineers. In 1980 he left Disney to form his own company, Gary Goddard Productions, followed by the Landmark

Entertainment Group (with Tony Christopher) and later The Goddard Group. Goddard’s credits include such notable projects as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Terminator 2 3-D for Universal Orlando, The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace and Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas, The Georgia Aquarium, Glow in the Park and Monster Mansion for Six Flags and most recently the two billion dollar Galaxy Resort & Casino in Macau. Now 57 years of age, Goddard’s

entertainment career has also included producer roles on several Broadway shows, director of the 1987 movie Masters of the Universe and several television shows. The California-based attraction designer revels in

overcoming his critics, and always has something to say. To mark the 10th anniversary of The Goddard Group in 2012, we bring you this exclusive interview.

in design and how colour affects the mood of a scene, and how it can be used to create emotional reactions in the audience. •From Collin Cambell – “Always add a sixth finger to every presentation.” Since the executives have to have something to point to and criticise, this makes it easier and faster. As in “wow, you’re right, she has six fingers – I’ll fix that.” •From Al Bertino – Timing is everything. Always look for gags – for ideas that make a show or ride funny, surprising or inspiring. “And kid, do you realise how lucky we are to get paid to have fun and to work on these shows and rides? We have the best job in the world.”

What did you learn from your days at Disney?

Being that I was 24 when I started at Disney as an Imagineer, every day you learned something new. But no one “taught” you anything – you simply had to jump in and soak up as much as you could. I was fortunate to have some great people all rooting and looking out for me; and I worked hard too. Here are a few lessons I learned: •From Marc Davis – How to stage a ride (or AA show) for maximum effect. Always look for a design that will read immediately with people, because in our business we don’t have the time that film and theatre do to make an impression. You cannot tell a story in a ride, but there has to be a thread that works its way through and you still need to have a beginning, a middle and an end. •From Herb Ryman – In designing for theme parks “theme” is not enough, in fact it is barely acceptable. A design must be “lived in” and have something different. To simply copy existing designs and re- create them elsewhere doesn’t work; out of the context of their original location they will be sterile and have no meaning. •From John Hench – The “gestalt” (form) is important for any design – not just the front layer – but the background, the setting, and the particular environment and context within which the design will exist. •From Marty Sklar – Be on time to meetings. Don’t miss deadlines. •From John DeCuir Snr – Don’t be afraid of being epic in your thinking. Think big. Think not just out of the box, but assume there is no box. •From Rolly Crump – A sense of humour should be evident in the design, or in the attraction. Humour makes everything better. •From Claude Coates – The importance of colour


I have not been at Walt Disney Imagineering for over 25 years, but back then it wasn’t run by the corporate suits. Or if it was (behind the scenes) they did not interfere with the creative flow. I remember when Marc Davis told me, “Walt used to say, if the pencil pushers are ever put in charge of this place, it will all fall apart Marc.” With massive misfires like California Adventure, Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios in Paris, it’s pretty clear that the pencil pushers have indeed taken over. That being said, I am very hopeful that with John Lasseter now actively involved, the creative designers will be allowed more control, and that we will soon see a new generation of great creative innovation. Equally cool is that James Cameron will be leading the Imagineers on an entirely new journey with Avatar.

How can small parks create “wow’ experiences? It’s not as much about the budget as it is about being creative. I have seen a number of “smaller” attractions or elements over the years that were not terribly expensive, and yet had a major impact on audiences. It’s about being clever with what you have. And contrary to what many people believe, we

Six Flags’ Glow in the Park parade FEBRUARY 2012

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