On February 28, 2011 I got to dine with a real life Disney Imagineer at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Wyatt Winter.
The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant is open for lunch and dinner in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. It’s an upscale atmosphere that harkens back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. True story – The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort is an authentic replica of the famous Brown Derby – the Hollywood landmark and hangout for Tinseltown’s biggest and brightest personalities.
The meal is pricey – it’s $60.99 USD + tax and gratuity or you can use 2 table service credits from Disney’s Dining Plan. Our souvenir was an autographed plate which I indeed on putting on display in my Fairytale Dreams and Destinations office.
Dine with an Imagineer offers engaging conversation with a Disney Imagineer, a 4-course meal and a special souvenir with a large group of people. Right on the website when you make your reservation, it specifically says “This experience is designed for Guests ages 14 and older and may not appeal to younger children.” Bold as I was I thought – hey man, no way. I’m on a family vacation, kidlet is coming too. I’m not the only person who thought that way and as cute as I thought I was bringing her along with my fiance and I, there was probably only one other person in the group who thought she was cute, the others found her to be an annoyance. Likewise, there were 3 adolescents across the table from me dragged along by their father. The daughter paid no attention whatsoever and was drawing her name loves Justin Bieber in hearts the whole times and sighing how bored she was. The 2 boys indulged their father for about an hour, then started to get VERY restless. Folks, unless your child has engineering in on their minds and project management and can discuss it for hours on end, DO NOT BRING YOUR ADOLESCENTS, CHILDREN OR TODDLERS TO THIS DINING EVENT. This is a three hour meal and even the most well behaved 10 year old will act out at some point.
For our meal, we were served:
Soup – Asparagus Soup with Blue Lump Crab Crostini and a drizzle of Sherry Gastrique
Salad – Individual Classic Cobb Salad with Finely Chopped Greens, Turkey Breast, Bacon, Egg, Tomatoes, Crumbled Bleu Cheese, Avocado and Cobb Salad Dressing
Choice of one:
Char-grilled Filet of Beef with Herb-roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Cremini Mushrooms, Cippolini Onions, and Cabernet Wine Syrup
Noodle Bowl with a Grilled Breast of Chicken, Soy Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Bok Choy, and Shiitake Mushrooms in a Red Curry Broth
Spice-rubbed Black Grouper with Sautéed Haricots Verts and Sunchokes,
Rainbow Carrot Slaw, and Citrus Butter
Choice of one:
Grapefruit Cake – Light Layers of Yellow Cake with
fresh Grapefruit Cream Cheese Icing
Double Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with
Dark Chocolate dipped Biscotti
Coffee, Tea, and Non-alcoholic Beverage
In bolded letters is what I ate and loved.
Okay, onto the exciting part – meeting and chatting with Wyatt Winter. Wyatt is an Associate Project Manager with Walt Disney Imagineering based in Florida. His responsibilities include coordinating, planning and overseeing the day to day aspects and execution of various projects across the Walt Disney World Resort. So while Wyatt surely has some creative bones in his body – he’s a businessman first and foremost. Don’t want to burst the bubble of those thinking you’re going to sit with an animator set designer. It could happen as there are a few who rotate the dining gig.
Wyatt’s Walt Disney Imagineering projects include Spaceship Earth, National Treasures at the American Adventure, Tomb Warriors in Epcot, the AFI Showcase in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Epcot 25th Anniversary Gallery. He is currently working on the newly announced Disney’s Children’s Hospital at Florida Hospital.
Wyatt got into Imagineering by starting out in the parks as a cast member. Yep – his first job was sending guests into the wilderness on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom and later was a skipper on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Park while in university. So he already had an in with the folks there ;o)
There were obviously some things that Wyatt couldn’t talk about or give much details about – upcoming unleaked projects for instance, but was happy to talk about the Fantasyland expansion (which he is not a project manager on at the moment) and his completed projects. I was extraordinarily interested in the process of becoming an Imagineer. I’m just going to keep dreaming and keep on applying for jobs at pop up on Disney Careers!
*** DISCLAIMER – I booked my Walt Disney World Resort Vacation through Fairytale Dreams and Destinations. This post is not sponsored by them or by Disney. I receive no compensation for my expressed opinions***