Who hasn’t delved into the magic of Disney? We grew up watching its movies and series and fell in love with its characters. We discovered endless worlds and possibilities that helped us grow and dared us to dream. But Disney isn’t just for children. What if I told you that you can still learn from Disney no matter how old you are. Because Disney isn’t just the magic it creates. 

Disney is a beautiful mesh of collaboration, hard work, inspiration, creativity, and innovation. And so is architecture. So what can architects learn from Disney? 

Here are 10 Disney documentaries every architect should watch.

1. The Imagineering Story (2019)

This Disney Docuseries is all about Disney Parks’ Imagineers, the engineers of imagination, meaning that they combine technical skills, new technology, and creativity to design the magical experiences that Disney skillfully delivers. So, who says Disney can just inspire children? 

By following the process of designing these theme parks in various locations around the world, architects should be inspired. They should be inspired by the technologies used, the stimulating experiences created, the challenges overcome, the carefully concocted details, and the very contextual and unique approach that respects cultural and historical implications of the construction location. 

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The Imagineering Story_©Disney

2. Prop Culture (2020)

This Disney docu series explores the props and artifacts used in some of Disney’s films. Why might this be useful for architects? Simply put, the crucial aspect of this documentary is the attention given to details. Just like props are an essential part of the movie, finishing and construction details are an essential part of the architecture. 

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Prop Culture_©Disney

3. Zenimation (2020)

This Disney docu-series highlights the importance of soundscapes that, along with visual scenes, powerfully transcend the scenes we watch. Architects can realize from this how elements that may seem secondary can largely influence architecture. It teaches you to pay attention to what can contribute to setting a specific mood or experience. It also opens your eyes to the importance of paying attention to stimulating all senses as they elevate any experience.

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Zenimation_©Disney

4. SparkShorts (2019)

This Disney documentary consists of a series of independent animated short films produced by different Pixar filmmakers and artists. Employees of various backgrounds make use of the studio’s resources to, with a low budget, explore their ideas, and experiment with techniques to create their short film in 6 months. This shows you the importance of the diversity of backgrounds in the design industry. Indeed, change encourages uniqueness as it introduces new ways of thinking and leads to a variety of results. 

Through these short movies, also available on youtube, architects can also learn the power of render to give a certain atmosphere and to resonate a certain experience. And this is through different animation techniques, from more traditional to more innovative ones. 

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Sparkshorts: Purl_©Disney
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Sparkshorts: Kitbull_©Disney

5. One Day at Disney (2019) 

To sum up this documentary, it suffices to quote Bob Iger: “What this company is, more than anything, aside from a collection of many talented people and the legacy of Walt Disney is a great partnership between artists and technologists”. By going behind the scenes and looking at the entire process behind the completion of a Disney film, we learn the importance of teamwork. Just like in the movie industry, a whole group of people works towards the success of an architectural project, and they are often left in the background. 

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One Day At Disney_©www.betaseries.com/en/show/one-day-at-disney

6. Marvel’s Hero Project (2019 – ongoing)

This docuseries shares young heroes who have contributed to change in their communities. In honor of their acts of kindness and bravery, Marvel introduces them to the world as “true SuperHeroes” and celebrates them by turning them into Marvel superheroes. Even if this isn’t directly connected to architecture, the concept of this docu-series encourages us to find inspiration everywhere, to connect with our societies, and to aspire to be advocates for change. 

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Hero Project – Marvel_©Disney

7. Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings (2017 – 2020)

This Disney documentary shares magical Disney weddings and engagements around the world. This reminds us how magical spaces we create contribute to making magical experiences. Architects can witness through this documentary the power of designed spaces. Architecture doesn’t stop after the original design and construction phases. Architecture is the moments, experiences, and memories that will be created and that may contribute to someone’s happily ever after.

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Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings_©Disney

8. Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II (2020)

This Disney documentary reveals all about the filming of Disney’s Frozen 2: Into the Unknown. You can see how movie production is similar to architecture as, from the very beginning to the end, the process includes extensive collaboration within a budget and time limit not to exceed. It shows you the realist aspect instead of selling you a utopian dream.

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Into The Unknown: Making Frozen II_©Disney

9. Own the Room (2021)

According to IMDb, the Disney Documentary Own the Room follows five students and their journey as they compete to win Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. This can inspire architects to dare to follow their dreams and to fight for what they want to achieve. 

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Own The Room_©Disney

10. The Pixar Story (2007)

This Disney documentary about the history of the Pixar animation studios retells the story of the development of computer-generated animation.

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The Pixar Story_©www.hotstar.com/in/movies/the-pixar-story/1260018340/watch

Two quotes can best summarize this documentary and what it teaches architects. The first one is by Thomas Porter: “Art challenges technology. Technology inspires art.” The second one is by John Lasseter: “The best scientists and engineers are just as creative as the best storytellers.” In other words, architects, just like storytellers, should seek innovation, knowing that art and technology go hand in hand and that creativity isn’t an enemy to science. 

References:

  1. Disney+ Originals. n.d. Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings. [online] Available at: <https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/disneys-fairy-tale-weddings> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  2. Disney+ Originals. n.d. Into The Unknown: Making Frozen II. [online] Available at: <https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/into-the-unknown-making-frozen-2> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  3. Disney+ Originals. n.d. Marvel’s Hero Project. [online] Available at: <https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/marvels-hero-project> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  4. Disney+ Originals. n.d. One Day At Disney. [online] Available at: <https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/one-day-at-disney> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  5. Disney+ Originals. n.d. Own The Room. [online] Available at: <https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/movie/own-the-room> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  6. Disney+ Originals. n.d. Prop Culture. [online] Available at: < https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/prop-culture> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  7. Disney+ Originals. n.d. Sparkshorts. [online] Available at: <https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/sparkshorts> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  8. Disney+ Originals. n.d. The Imagineering Story. [online] Available at: <https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/the-imagineering-story> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  9. Disney+ Originals. n.d. Zenimation. [online] Available at: <https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/zenimation> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  10. Imdb. n.d. Own The Room. [online] Available at: <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt14017018/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_3> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  11. Imdb. n.d. The Pixar Story. [online] Available at: <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1059955/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  12. Pixar, 2019. Go Behind the Scenes of Kitbull.Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6AMdsH0-uo> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  13. Pixar, 2019. Kitbull.Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZS5cgybKcI&t=466s> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
  14. Pixar, 2019. Purl.Available at: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6uuIHpFkuo> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
Author

Myriam Soubra is an architecture student at the American University of Beirut. She is minoring in urban studies and art history. She loves the multidisciplinary aspect of architecture and is interested in how different fields could enhance the design process and the design outcome.

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