Storyland Studios welcomes Disney fantasy veteran Jim Clark
Storytelling studios, the three-dimensional storytelling firm, named Jim clark, long Disney Imagineer, as the new executive director. Clark spent 27 years at the Walt Disney Company, including 20 years at Walt Disney Imagineering, during which he worked on projects at Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland.
Prior to joining Storyland Studios, Clark worked as the lead creative producer for the Tokyo Disneyland expansion. Speaking about this new chapter in his career, he says:
âI am excited about the depth and diversity of the projects at Storyland. There are going to be a lot of great opportunities here. “
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While at Disney he worked with Marty sklar, an Imagineering legend and the last employee to work directly with Walt disney himself.
“We are delighted that Jim is the newest member of our management team,” said Ben thompson, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Global Clients at Storyland Studios. âTo have another talented Veteran Imagineer on our team – who learned firsthand from a legend like Marty Sklar – is an honor, and we are delighted to start working with him. “
Sklar was the head of Disney Imagineering when Clark joined Clark, and when Sklar resigned to become the Imagineering Ambassador in 2006, Clark joined him at Disney Studio in Burbank, where they were able to work together for another three years. .
âHe was a real mentor to me, and it was a remarkable experience to learn from someone who had really been with Disney theme parks from the very beginning,â said Clark.
Clark has also worked with other legends in the industry, Rolly crump and Blaine gibson, and says that Sklar, Crump and Gibson “have all lived up to their larger-than-life reputation.”
Create unique attractions
Until mid-2020, Clark worked with the Tokyo Disney Resort portfolio team. For seven years, he contributed to the development of several attractions for the expansion of Tokyo Disneyland, the largest in the history of the park. This is where the epic ‘Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast’ takes place, which features 35 of the most sophisticated audio-animatronic figures and some of the most advanced special effects ever created for Tokyo Disney Resort.
âWe really tried to create something very emotional,â Clark said of the ride. âThis is not a thrill ride. It’s a dancing and musical ride, and if you’re a fan of the 1991 animated film The beauty and the Beast, attraction can be a very emotional experience.
âThe joy of driving the ride doesn’t just come from the special effects and the awe-inspiring scenery, but from the fact that all movement, and everything in the ride, is all in sync with the dance of the ride vehicle.
âThe movement of the vehicle, the music, the special effects, the animated characters, the animated props, everything moves in unison. An extraordinary team of talented imaginaries from a wide variety of different disciplines worked together to make it all possible. It was a great collaborative effort. “
A passion for the imagination
Clark lived in South Florida as a child and remembers Epcot opening at Walt Disney World. At 12, he knew he wanted to work for Walt Disney Imagineering when he grew up. While studying at the University of Florida, he created his own specialty called Narrative Show Design, “a combination of drama, computer programming, filmmaking, and creative writing,” he said.
During his college days, Clark worked at Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom Guest Relations, Amusement Operations at Epcot, and Disney / MGM Studios. Then, while working for an MFA in Creative Writing at CalArts, he moved to Disneyland and soon after, he joined Imagineering.
One of the first projects was the development of new merchandising items, where he and a team of Haunted Mansion enthusiasts created âSpirit Photography,â later sold in the Memento Mori store at Walt Disney World. This allowed the guests to have a creepy image of themselves as a ghoul:
âYou could get a lenticular of yourself turning into a Haunted Mansion-style ghost,â says Clark. âWe loved this little project so much because I’m a huge Haunted Mansion fan, and it was a real passion project. I had a certain idea in my head of what it was like to work at Imagineering, and doing the Haunted Mansion change portraits looked like I imagined when I was 12 years old.
While at The Walt Disney Company, Clark also worked in the cultural affairs department, helped launch Disney Kingdom Comics, and produced video games with Disney Interactive.
New Opportunities at Storyland
On Sklar’s lessons, Clark says his secret was “the way he dealt with people.”
âHe treated everyone with respect and listened to everyone’s point of view. He literally managed 3,000 people and 140 different disciplines, but he had an open door policy. Any of those 3,000 people could walk through their door at any time. He treated everyone like he knew them very well.
âIf there was a conflict or a disagreement between two members of his team, he would listen to the complaint, but he would not follow up and react to it. He would hear the other side, he would hear the other point of view, and he would find a compromise; they felt heard. Marty really wanted to create the best possible product for guests, and that has served as a guiding principle throughout his career.
As he begins working for Storyland Studios, Clark adds:
âThere is a lot of truly market-leading work at Storyland, and I’m very excited about the opportunities. I can’t wait to talk about this soon because there are some pretty remarkable and innovative things happening here.
Earlier this year, Storyland Studios announced it had been chosen by Grupo Cataratas, South America’s largest tourism operator, to design four new location-based entertainment concepts.