Discipline: Show Control Engineering
Company: Alcorn McBride, Inc.
Learn more about Linda
As early as age ten, she had constructed a cardboard model of Disneyland on her bedroom floor. So it’s not surprising that when she obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering from UCLA, the place she sought employment was WED Enterprises.
Linda Alcorn was the first female engineer hired at WED (now Walt Disney Imagineering), fresh out of college, in the Show Control section of the Electronic Engineering department in the fall of 1979. She began work on the EPCOT project. Each engineer was assigned a single attraction. But there were many more attractions than engineers, so Linda was assigned "all the others," eventually taking on responsibility for ten pavilions: World of Motion, France, Canada, China, UK, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Italy, and four parts of CommuniCore.
After EPCOT, Linda went on to work nearly 40 years at WDI. Smart and tough, Linda was often the only woman in the room at hundreds of meetings; yet because she was on the engineering side, and not the creative side, she worked largely in the background, bringing one attraction after another to life.
In the late 80s Linda relocated to Orlando. Throughout the late 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s she was probably responsible for most if not all of Disney’s Florida show control projects, new or rehabs.
In the early 1990's, Linda relocated to Paris to handle show control systems for all of Fantasyland in the new Euro Disneyland park. Once again, she had responsibility for more attractions than any other show control engineer.
Like the women in "Hidden Figures," Linda is a groundbreaking hero, who has been far too neglected in terms of her historical contribution to WDI and the industry. She’s been a mentor to women and men, and her kindness and acceptance of all types of people helped many young Imagineers gain confidence while working in the atmosphere of WED Show/Ride Engineering back in the early 1980s. As one of the first hires, she set the tone for the department for decades.
Linda retired from Disney in October 2016.
A final note: Linda is the “McBride” of Alcorn-McBride, the renowned show and media control systems company. Her husband Steve Alcorn has relied on Linda’s engineering skills over the years to hone the company’s products.
Discipline: Art Direction / Design and Show Quality
Learn More About Tracy
A native of Chicago, Tracy Eck holds a degree in French Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin, where she fell in love with contemporary French Theater. After completing an internship at the Théâtre National de Strasbourg, she worked between Paris and New York as a freelance lighting designer. In the late 80’s, she returned to the Midwest to study with Broadway designer Richard Nelson at the University of Michigan Master of Fine Arts program. While there, she was recruited to return to France and join the show light lighting team of Imagineers for the Disneyland Paris project.
She quickly became an essential part of that park and was one of a small group of Imagineers to join the Design and Show Quality team after opening, to continue to train the maintenance staff in the upkeep of the park and to design new projects. Imagineering at DLP proved to be a perfect fit for the bi-lingual, bi-cultural American designer passionate about other cultures.
Eck shifted back as a lead lighting designer for the development and installation of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, the Walt Disney Studios Park, Crush Coaster, Toystory Playland and the World of Disney flagship store. She was awarded the 2002 LDI Lighting Designer of the Year, themed project, for her work on the Walt Disney Studio park. In between major projects, she returned to her role with Design and Show Quality where she continued to work on numerous refurbishments as well as new projects resort-wide.
Eck has been a key player on many themed entertainment projects, including rides, restaurants, retail spaces, area development, and major icons. “I have had the pleasure of working absolutely everywhere in the resort, so I know it really well.”
She continued to learn and grow as a designer and earned a promotion to lead Art Direction for the Disneyland Paris portfolio. Today, as the art director for the Disneyland Park, Eck is responsible for maintaining the creative vision, relevancy and beauty of the park through the disciplines of animation, special effects, lighting, interior design, audio, graphics, and more. “I have great respect for designers and technicians. I always try to be a respectful art director;”
She believes in partnering and problem-solving: “The team and I spend lots of time problem solving alongside our maintenance and operations partners, and the many lines of business as we continue to enhance, refresh and redesign the park. It is important to listen and propose good solutions in order to become the partner of choice.”
After 29 years in the themed entertainment world, Tracy is at the top of her craft. She has managed many complex projects from concept through completion. She remains an essential part of the DLP team where she has mentored many young designers over many years. “Mentoring young Imagineers is a very rich exchange. I always learn as much as they do! If I don’t then I haven’t been listening. My mentors have been so important to my career. I am happy to do the same for others.”
She sets the highest standards for herself to accomplish a quality product that will delight Disney guests; and she inspires other members of the team by her example. She believes “We accomplish nothing alone. It’s all about strong teams, and the Imagineering teams are truly exceptional. I learn new things every day. I have formed strong, beautiful friendships. When you build a new project, the team becomes like a family.”
Company: Independent Contractor
Learn More About James
Jim Scheidel’s experience in themed entertainment began with the Back to the Future - The Ride attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, helping to create a “never been done before” experience. Since then he has managed, designed, planned or participated in more than 50 parks, attractions, gaming centers and other entertainment projects, amassing an impressive and unique body of work and influencing the way project teams are created.
Scheidel’s work has taken him all over the world, designing and managing projects for most of the major theme park operators including Disney, Universal, Warner Bros., Lotte, Six Flags, Knott’s and others. In 2014 Walt Disney Imagineering presented Jim with their Strategic Partner Award.
At least 11 projects in which Jim played major roles have been honored with Thea awards. A key quality Jim established at his firm, Cuningham Group, is to form master-like multidisciplinary design teams for his projects. Over the past years, Jim’s primary focus has been in developing Cuningham Group’s business interest in China that led to the formation and registration of Cuningham Group’s Beijing office in 2013.
Themed entertainment architecture differs from the traditional practice of the discipline. “In themed environments, architecture done well is not just applied, but part of the experience, coordinated into one comprehensive package,” says Scheidel. “Creating a themed entertainment experience involves many more specialists, roles and personalities that traditional architecture does not touch. In some cases, there isn’t a building but there is façade work, thematic work. We deal with theaters, life safety, foundations, construction, we draw the set elevations along with the set designers. We deal with sound and earthquake considerations. We work with local building officials, because the code may not deal with some of the situations we’re putting people in. As an example, consider power failures and safe evacuation. In a typical, everyday building, when you have a power failure there’s nobody on a ride.”
In addition to the quality of the work itself and the integration of architecture into the team dynamic, Scheidel and his firm helped establish a model for an architect to provide service as part of an external team - functioning as an external partner to the operator or client. “We were part of taking theme park development to the next level,” he says. “We help take the load off the operator’s in-house creative team. We strive hard to understand the nature of storytelling so that our contribution helps it be more comprehensive and engaging.”
Scheidel recognizes and acknowledges the growth and development needed for emerging young professionals, and works to provide opportunities to learn and grow. He is always ready to share his knowledge with those around him.
His personal commitment to a sustainable future led to the creation of the TESS (Themed Entertainment Sustainability Summit), an open forum where industry leaders meet to share their experiences and strategies for creating and operating sustainable immersive environments. Jim Scheidel is a constant promoter of the value that the themed entertainment industry provides - not just to people’s lives and livelihoods, but also to the creation of better environments for people to experience worldwide. He believes themed entertainment parks connect people together regardless of geographic location, theme or culture.
“People in my group love what they do,” he says. “They love the challenge they love dealing with very creative people. I fell in love with it when I got into it 32 years ago. It’s a life sentence.”
Discipline: Theatrical Technology
Company: Walt Disney Imagineering
Learn More About Lanny
From Madame Leota’s levitating crystal ball… to Kym Possible’s scene-transforming spy phone… to Kylo Ren’s appearing lightsaber… Lanny Smoot has created some of Disney Parks and Resorts’ most magical special effects and technical achievements. Lanny brings over 42 years of experience as a theatrical technology creator, inventor, electrical engineer, scientist, and researcher; 22 years of which has been as a leader at the Walt Disney Company. Lanny is a graduate of Columbia University and started his early career in a leadership position at Telcordia and Bell Labs, where he worked on the first fiber optic telephone network. His early work earned him the Most Promising Black Engineer award from the USBE magazine in 1987. His knowledge on early VR technology led him to a position with Disney Research in East Hampton which eventually led him to Walt Disney Imagineering R&D and Disney Research.
At Imagineering, Lanny has:
Discipline: Economic Feasibility
Company: Entertainment + Culture Advisors (ECA)
Learn More About Ray
Raymond Braun is a founding Principal of Entertainment+Culture Advisors (ECA), specializing in entertainment development projects, recreation and tourism economics, and attraction development potential. Prior to forming ECA, Mr. Braun was the head of the Entertainment Practice at Economics Research Associates (ERA).
Ray established and matured the economic feasibility analysis process in the 1980s, building upon the work of his mentor and predecessor, Harrison “Buzz” Price. Ray’s modeling processes have been adopted by many industry economists as the standard for economic feasibility studies for entertainment projects.
Ray’s clients in the theme park industry include major operating companies such as the Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Merlin Entertainments. Mr. Braun has helped plan major cultural attractions including the J.P. Getty Center in Los Angeles; the Rose Center at the American Museum of Natural History in New York; the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco; and the Henry Ford in Dearborn.
Internationally, Mr. Braun has in-depth experience in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, Australia, Canada and Mexico. Major projects have included market planning and attendance analysis for Universal Studios, multiple locations; consulting with Merlin regarding LEGO theme park development opportunities; economic planning for recreation and commercial development in Beijing; Warner Bros. Movie World, a movie studio and related theme park in Australia; global location research for KidZania; a theme park in Southern Malaysia for Khazanah Nasional; and resort projects throughout Mexico.
Ray has taught many along his career as a mentor and industry expert. He has worked with most all studios and major developers. He continues today as an industry leader and speaks regularly at industry conferences.
Discipline: Business Development / Public Relations
Company: Roberta Perry and Associates
Learn More About Roberta
Roberta Perry is one of the most familiar, dedicated and energetic members of the Themed Entertainment community. She is a consummate connector: connecting people to people, people to projects and people to companies. She opens doors for successful business to occur by making visible great work by outstanding people and companies. Roberta has made positive connections for the companies she has been affiliated with, including ETI, Iwerks, Fox Studios and others in the TEA, helping them to do better business. She’s quick to recommend others, even when there is no direct benefit to her, or the company she represents. For Roberta, it’s about getting the right people in the room to do the best job possible. Perry clarifies that business development is not ‘sales’ but rather the creation of community that enables business to be done. “My job is to open doors and to build relationships with companies and people around the planet. First you build the community, then you engage with the community - and only after you do that can you actually market to the community. That’s the art.”
Her definition of public relations is similar: “building community, engaging with it, getting your name out there. First comes PR, then marketing then advertising and sales. That’s how you grow a product line.”
Part of that process is helping the community to see itself as a community. “I’ve always been able to do that. It’s all about connection. You go out and you link people,” she says. “I have done that in multiple markets. Perry’s great contribution to our themed entertainment industry is that she applied those abilities to help TEA and its community recognize itself as such, back in the days of its founding.
She has been part of the bedrock of TEA and the industry ever since. Perry has supported the association as a member, International Board President, an active member of numerous committees, and consistent “cheerleader” for nearly 30 years. Throughout, she has been the embodiment of professionalism, limitless upbeat energy and a willingness to mentor others. She greets the world with a smile; and behind that smile is a wealth of wisdom, born from decades of experience. Through her leadership, organization and support of women in the TEA, launching and co-hosting the TEA Summit and guiding the TEA through the early and turbulent years as President, Perry stands above many and encourages all to be the best they can be.
The community of women is particularly important to her. “It is important to build a community of like-minded women who want to help each other. Women need opportunities to network with one another, to discuss the unique challenges they face in the working world, to build trust and self-confidence and help one another grow in their businesses and personal lives. It’s empowering - and you can go back out there into that co-ed environment and be more effective. It’s second nature to me.”
Giving back in the form of servant leadership is key. “Ask yourself, ‘what can I do for the community? Never ask what it can do for you!” she says. “Don’t go in expecting stuff. If you build it with the right culture and attitude, if you are truly there to help each other, what you do for the community will come back to you a thousandfold. That’s the spirit to bring. When you’ve dedicated yourself to servant leadership, you freely offer to take part in an enterprise. The phrase ‘freely offer’ is central to the concept of being a servant leader or volunteer.”
Perry has made tremendous contributions and practiced these philosophies in other industries as well as the TEA community. She was a founding member of the Nightclub & Bar Association; served on the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association Marketing Executives Group; was recognized by Toastmasters International with an international citation for service; was a member of the ULI Entertainment Development Council and served three years on the City of Seattle Fair Campaign Practices and Ethics Committee. She was also awarded point of purchase volunteer of the year Andrea Martin volunteer of the year award for the Point of Purchase Association.
She has earned a raft of professional awards, and gives presentations on topics of communication, leadership and effective business development to countless organizations both inside and outside our industry.
Discipline: Costume Design
Company: Costume Connection, Inc.
Learn More About Bonnie
Bonnie Sinclair is an award-winning Costume Designer and co-owner of The Costume Connection. Bonnie has designed parade costumes, operational wardrobe and character costumes for the industry's leading entertainment design companies. Bonnie also has an expertise in costume and character design for intellectual properties. As the founder and co-owner of The Costume Connection, Bonnie is an expert at taking costumes and wardrobe designs from concept to completion.
Bonnie’s work tells the story of the project and the characters within it. Her costume and wardrobe designs work not only as designs on paper, but her deep knowledge of costume construction can be seen in the meticulous way each piece is fabricated for the people/performers who will have to wear and work in them.
Bonnie is continually trying to push her craft forward by researching new materials, technologies and methods. She has a willingness to share her knowledge to make her craft stronger. Her work ethic and body of work is truly remarkable, yet she is also one of the most humble designers in the business. Bonnie has excelled in mentoring, and her goal is to empower everyone who wears her designs by instilling confidence not only in the outfit, but also in themselves.
A few of Bonnie’s many clients include: