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The Fabulous Disney Babe
Page 1 of 2

by Michelle Smith (archives)
November 16, 2001
Michelle talks to Larry Wilk, Vice President, Business Design and Development, about Innoventions.

As the Holiday Season approaches, Disneyland Resort is gearing up to once again to "own Christmas". They invited all of the local media to see all of the new Holiday offerings, and also offered a few interview opportunities.

Not everything was ready; look for the decorations to all be up just after Thanksgiving. Disneyland is pretty much finished; Main Street, U.S.A., "it's a small world" Mall and New Orleans Square are fully decorated as they were last year, as well as limited decorations in Adventureland and Frontierland. New decorations, of course, are all over the Haunted Mansion as well.

Holiday themed banners hang from the lampposts in the Plaza between the two park entrances. If you stand facing Disneyland, they proclaim Disneyland the "Merriest Place on Earth". If you stand facing Disney's California Adventure, they tout LuminARIA. It's one of many nice little touches.

After a frustrating morning at court and at the DMV, (I won) an afternoon and evening at Disneyland seemed the way to relax and unwind.

They made us work! After a quick salad at Redd Rockett's, I made my way to Innoventions to see all of the new exhibits. To my shock, (I am a rabid Innoventions foe) when it was time to leave, I didn't want to go. I liked the Mission: Space game, even though they said "coming here to Epcot in 2003". They added more fireworks machines. They have seasonal interactive shows instead of those boring "zones", and give away actual prizes (the latest holiday DVD release, Snowed In at the House of Mouse). Hey - where in the Magic Kingdom (the one HERE) do they have a play on that name? They brought back the Big Phone that I loved when I was a kid, updated. Is it an E-ticket? Nope. It's still an A or B, but it's a fun A or B.

I had a chance to talk to Larry Wilk, who is not the President of Innoventions. His title is Vice President, Business Design and Development. He's in charge of all of the new changes, and took a few minutes with me in the Innoventions VIP lounge:

Fab: Have you worked on Innoventions before, or is this your first time working on the project?

Larry Wilk: I've been involved with Innoventions for about the last three years, trying to take it from where we opened, upgrading the experience for the guests, bringing some new exhibitors in, making sure it's fun.

Fab: Were you looking for more interactive experiences?

LW: We've done a lot of research, and we find the guest likes interactive experiences versus…

Fab: Stand and watch?

LW: Yeah. So the ring shows are a good introduction of the space, but then once they get on the middle and upstairs, we want to give them things to do.

Fab: I noticed the ring shows have become more interactive as well.

LW: Yeah, that's the idea.

Fab: That's really neat. I watched the "Snow It All" one in Entertainment, that was funny. They're giving away real prizes now - if I'd known, I would have put my hand up!

LW: While quantities last!

Fab: I also like the new Mission: Space consoles in there. "Coming here to Epcot in 2003!"

LW: Yeah, I know. Again, we're looking for that something unique you can't do, versus where we had the video games in the past, which were fun and the guests liked them, this is something unique like the tilty game

Fab: You can't go pick up one of those at Best Buy…

LW: Right, right, so: your weight in space, you know, it's just fun.

Fab: The space test is fun, it seems more colorful and kid-friendly now, from when it first opened.

LW: We wanted a good family experience, at Disney Interactive especially when you get up on the dance pad; you'll see mother and daughter…

Fab: Oh, man, I wouldn't do that - but it's fun to watch!

LW: and then we've got the camera up above with the projector so you see the people dancing as you walk up the stairs, so that's a good thing.

Fab: I think the thing I like best is the fireworks programming…thing. Do you see that coming home for people, on their computers, or will that be a Disneyland-only experience?

LW: Right now, it's Disneyland-only. We've thought about it, but it's something unique we've developed for here,

Fab: Is it only in this park? (Hey, I needed to clarify!)

LW: Yeah, because Compaq sponsors the fireworks.

Fab: Do you see doing something seasonally? Not just Christmas but someday for summer, for spring, for fall…(note from Fab: this shows how often I get there…they DO this.)

LW: Well I think you'll notice two things: we change the ring shows out a couple of times a year. (oops) We base it, you can say seasonally but after Christmas we have the "Winter" version of the shows. We take Santa Claus out of the show, and we'll have new shows ready for the summer, and then we'll come back in for the holidays next year - although, if we come up with a fun new technology, we're always throwing things in, because about 20-25 percent of the guests have been in the building before; we don't want you to come in and say "Oh, yeah, I've seen that". And with the exhibits, we're doing those upgrades as they come along, so we reopen Pioneer in August, and the new Compaq Space, we're doing other things there, too.

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