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The Disney Creators Lab Fosters the Ultimate Collaboration

The Disney Creators Lab program provides diverse content creators with tools to grow their audience and increase their engagement.
Walt Disney Imagineering executive producer Charita Carter and the Imagineering team putting the final touches on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

Walt Disney Imagineering executive producer Charita Carter and the Imagineering team putting the final touches on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

The process that Disney Imagineers painstakingly go through to give their popular rides, attractions, and experiences that special something is nothing short of esoteric. Within The Walt Disney Company, this secret sauce is better known as “Disney Magic,” and it is treated with the same protective care as that of a state secret.

Balancing the need to keep “Disney Magic” close to the vest, while allowing some accessibility to some of its inner workings, has always been a balancing act throughout the history the company. With the Disney Creators Lab program, carefully selected content creators are invited and given the opportunity to experience firsthand what makes this soon-to-be 100-year-old company such a global success.

Since 2021, rising diverse content creators have been invited to participate in the Disney Creators Lab program, which provides them with rich tools designed to help them grow their audience and increase their engagement. The program consists of Disney-led virtual workshops, training and learning opportunities, in-person meet-ups for early collaboration (field trips to Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Studios), and more – all of which culminates at the Disney Creators Celebration.

Disney Creators Lab Class of 2022

Disney Creators Lab Class of 2022

Aaron and Kyra Abernathy of @AKAdventures15 on Instagram are an energetic married couple who share their insightful travel experiences throughout social media. Disney recognized their efforts and invited them to participate in the Disney Creators Lab. Here’s an excerpt of my interview with them:

What has been the biggest takeaway from your Disney Creators Lab experience thus far?

"We've learned so much from our experience and we aren't even halfway through! Our biggest takeaway so far is to simply never give up on your dreams. In our sessions with the Creators Lab, every speaker has shared their journey with us to get to where they currently are. What people don't see are the failures, long nights, and mistakes that happen while working towards your goals. We must continue to push toward our dreams!"

What's your favorite thing about Disney?

"Disney has always been intentional about creating long-lasting memories with friends, family, and loved ones. We have fond memories of going to Walt Disney World, separately, with our families as children, and we continue to create more magical memories now as a married couple. We love that we can always look forward to releasing our worries, even if for a short time, while we are at the parks or on a Disney cruise. Those feelings last a lifetime and are priceless!"

I also had the opportunity to interview travel influencer Jessica Morrobel of @travelingwithjessica on Instagram, who was also invited to participate in this unique Disney experience:

How has your experience with the Disney Creators Lab broadened your perspective of The Walt Disney Company?

“Because Disney has such a broad audience, it's been fascinating to learn how the brand leverages different marketing channels to connect with its target demographics [...] It's not just about selling a Disney product. The Disney teams are meticulously humanizing the Disney brand by not making it about them, but allowing its customers, fans, and park visitors to feel an emotional connection. And I think that's remarkable.”

What do you hope to gain by the end of your experience?

“At the end of my experience with Disney Creators Lab, I hope to broaden my reach across ages and (other) demographics by expanding and creating more educational, vibrant, illustrative, and engaging content on my social platforms. I'm also hoping to strengthen my storytelling abilities by delivering on my promises, thinking outside the box, and sharing areas of expertise with my audience.”

The Disney Creators Lab also provides opportunities for those working within The Walt Disney Company to share stories that inspire and encourage participants to maintain focus as they pursue their dreams. Anisha Deshmane, creative producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, provided some insight about how to remain malleable while being creative:

How have emerging technologies impacted your creative process while in the midst of developing a new attraction?

“We are always looking for new opportunities to make our work better [...] It's more an exercise in flexibility than anything. When you're forging new paths, you have to be open to new possibilities, and sometimes that means a brand-new technology comes along that might solve a problem for us in the creative or implementation process or make something last a little longer. It's a constant evaluation of what we're doing and how we could be doing it better, but sometimes, (it's) also an acceptance of the path we're on and forging ahead.”

Charita Carter, Walt Disney Imagineering executive producer

Charita Carter, Walt Disney Imagineering executive producer

Disney Parks & Resorts will soon initiate the complete transformation of its Splash Mountain water attraction to become Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Walt Disney Imagineering executive producer Charita Carter  is responsible for this massive undertaking that will occur at both Disneyland in Southern California and Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Florida. It might surprise you that Carter didn’t originally start her Disney career as an Imagineer, but rather, an accountant for Disney. She eventually became a producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, where she participates in the ideation and creative processes to update numerous existing attractions. (Carter was the lead producer of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the attraction will open at Disneyland in January 2023.) I was happy to learn about how her work ethic opened many doors to opportunities that many can only dream of:

What do you like most about working for Walt Disney Imagineering that you would like the world to know?

“The best part of Imagineering, for me, has always been the people I have had the privilege to work with. People with vision and know-how. People who do not take for granted the amazing opportunity we have to impact guests around the world with our commitment to always strive to ‘Do the Impossible’ through entertainment.”

What has been the most satisfying moment of your time at Walt Disney Imagineering?

“This question makes me smile because there have been so many satisfying moments over the years. But one I think I should highlight is when former first lady Michelle Obama came to Walt Disney Imagineering along with her daughters (Malia and Sasha Obama), mother (Marian Shields Robinson), and nanny to a behind-the-scenes tour of Imagineering. I had the privilege, along with key members of my team, to showcase the work we were doing. Michelle and the girls loved it. After the presentation I had an amazing moment with Michelle and the girls when she asked me to share my journey at Imagineering. I did, and she thanked me for inspiring her and the girls. The thought of my story inspiring the first African-American First Lady of the United States and her family was overwhelmingly satisfying.”