Interning at the Happiest Place on Earth

May 01, 2012

Spencer Lynn ’12 shares his experience at Walt Disney Imagineering (Video edited and produced by Cass Yankala '13)


When the chance to intern at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) was presented to Spencer Lynn ’12, the theatre major and film studies minor leaped at the opportunity. A few months later, Lynn has realized his role inside WDI’s prop department isn’t too different from the work he’s been used to at Rollins’ Annie Russell Theatre. “The one thing they both share is hard work,” he quipped. “It may sound cliché, but WDI props and theatre in general require late nights and early mornings.  In theatre the show must always go on; at Disney the show is always going on.”

Would you share how you got the internship at Disney?
At the beginning of the fall 2011 semester, Blair Johnson, administrative assistant in the theatre arts and dance department, received an email from Disney asking if there was anyone interested in working for WDI. Blair quickly called me and forwarded me the email, and I immediately sent my resume and info over. I had an interview at the WDI main campus with my future boss and he graciously offered me a position right there on the spot. I did a little reworking of my class schedule and managed to be a full-time undergrad while still work in the prop department.

What drew you to this internship in the first place?
Ever since I was little, I've always wanted to work for Walt Disney Imagineering. It is, in fact, a dream come true to work there. While I had never considered working in the prop department, I've done props for several theatre shows here at Rollins in the Annie Russell so it didn't seem too radical of a move.

What does a typical day look like in the WDI prop department?
The wonderful thing about working at WDI is that there aren't any "normal days." Some days I pack crates to be shipped off to Germany for the newest cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy. On any give day, I install props out in the parks; other days I organize documentation for show quality standards, and I find myself in a shed somewhere organizing props from attractions that are now closed, which is really great as someone who really loves Disney.

What sort of props are we talking about here?
A prop in a Disney park or resort is best defined as nothing that is part of the hardscape but is still an element of a scene. For example, on Pirates of the Caribbean, all of the treasure, artificial foliage, barrels, soft goods, or nearly anything else that's not actually part of the structure of the building or set. For almost any attraction, if you were to go in and remove the props you'd be left with only the ride system, hardscape, and animatronics.

What's the best thing about working with Disney?
Okay, this is going to sound so sugarcoated and Disney-esque but the best part about working at Disney is that it genuinely is a dream come true. Everyday when I go to work I know that everything that I'm doing, in turn, has some effect on someone's magical moment in the park. For some people, it, unfortunately, is "just a job."

What's been the most surprising thing about working with Disney?
A lot of people ask me if it's any less magical now working behind the scenes and doing what I do. I'll admit, at first I thought this was going to be true but I'm happy to say it truly is not. I see things differently now, yes, but that element of unexplainable magic is always present.

What's this we hear about the light shows in your dorm room?
Ha. I'm not so certain I'd call them light "shows" as much as I would just say I have a lot of really cool lights in my room. I've just collected a lot of really fun lighting units over the year, and of course they all have to be turned on every now and then... with music... loud music... okay, yes... I guess it is a light show. It is funny though how people make such a big deal about it. To me, it's just something that's so natural that I forget it's odd to have more lights than paperclips in your room.

Where are you headed after graduation?
That is a fine question that I truly do no know the answer to. Time will tell. I'm taking life day by day. Everyday, I am so grateful to have new doors open and to meet new people. It's through those doors and people that I have become what I am today and I can only hope that there will continue to be more individuals and opportunities on the horizon. I've always personally believed, to quote Aerosmith, "Dream on... dream until your dreams come true," and that's exactly how I plan to handle the future. Keep dreaming. Keeping doing.

By Kristen Manieri

Office of Marketing & Communications
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