Encounter at the Theme Building
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Eddio Sotto Biography
In the history of themed entertainment, very few people have been as influential as Eddie Sotto.
At the urging of his wife, who suggested he should do something productive with his hobby of creating models and storyboards of theme park attractions, Eddie began his design career in 1979 at Knott's Berry Farm. It's an experience he describes as "design boot camp". The crowd pleasing (but no longer with us) "Soap Box Racer" was his first project. After spending three years with Knott's Berry Farm, he then continued honing his skills for three years at Landmark Entertainment. There Eddie worked on numerous projects, ranging from toy design for Mattel to attraction design for Six Flags Parks. His time with Landmark came to a close when, after seeing his "Laboratory of Scientific Wonders" walk-through attraction, Vice President of Design for Walt Disney Imagineering, Tony Baxter, hired him as a Show Producer/Designer for Disneyland, Paris. In Paris, Eddie was highly influential in the design of Main Street U.S.A. and was the first to suggest a hotel for the main entrance (the first in-park hotel). After Paris, he went on to work at Disneyland. Among other accomplishments there, he was a member (with George Lucas) of the original concept team behind "Indiana Jones Adventure" and worked closely with guitarist Dick Dale on the addition of a musical soundtrack to "Space Mountain".
You might recognize his voice, too. When you hear, "Launch Sequence Engaged" and "We Have Ignition" at the beginning of your ride on Space Mountain, you're hearing Eddie. Among many other places, his voice can also be heard coming from some of the upstairs windows on the Main Streets in Anaheim and Paris, and as "lovable" Shrunken Ned in Disneyland's Adventureland Bazaar.
Marty Sklar (President of Walt Disney Imagineering) supported Eddie in creating a think tank called the "Concept Development Studio". The group's mission was to explore Imagineering's possibilities inside, as well as outside, the traditional theme park environment. Notable results include the popular Encounter Restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport, the groundbreaking "Media as Architecture" ABC Times Square Studios, Pooh's Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland, and EPCOT's upcoming Mission:Space attraction.
In 1999, after 13 years with Walt Disney Imagineering, Eddie moved on to explore new possibilities.
He is now Chief Creative Officer at Progress City. The company's name is a tip of the hat to Walt Disney and his early vision of a future city, which was represented by a model displayed at the Carousel of Progress attraction at Disneyland. Eddie's Progress City is a forward thinking design firm which was created by software developer and San Diego Padres owner John Moores, specifically to allow Eddie to bring his idea's to life. With such prestigious clients as Kennedy Space Center, Kodak, and his former employer, Walt Disney Imagineering, Progress City is at the forefront when it comes to designing what the future will look like.
Eddie Sotto's comments were written primarily from his Progress City office in Santa Monica, California and Marc Borrelli's were written at Encounter, Disney's California Adventure, and Ikspiari at the Tokyo Disney Resort.
-- Posted August 6, 2001
-- Story and interview by Marc Borrelli