Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- June 27, 2003

Cal Poly Students Finish Third in International Disney Competition

Cal Poly's self-styled "un-Disney" team had a blast trying to win Walt Disney Imagineering's 2003 Imagi-Nations Design Competition -- and even though they didn't take first, there's nothing Mickey Mouse about winning third in the world.

The four students -- three in architecture, one in graphic communication -- presented their proposal for a San Francisco entertainment park to Disney judges earlier this month. Previously the team had been selected as one of four student teams from around the world to be Disney's guests in Anaheim and Burbank for five days and make a final presentation of their creative proposal.

After final judging, the Cal Poly designers' elaborate plan for a "cutting-edge entertainment center" and "state-of-the-art musical extravaganza" on San Francisco Bay placed behind a Canadian team's proposal for a "Monsters, Inc." ride for Disneyland and a North Carolina landscape team's design for a culturally based theme park.

Along with behind-the-scenes tours, interviews about possible internships, and a special dinner, the Cal Poly competitors each received a $1,000 prize, and their proposal is now on display at Disney Imagineering headquarters in Burbank.

Cal Poly team member and architecture student Conrad Garner of Poway had earlier described his group's idea -- titled "Frequency" -- as "un-Disney, ... definitely a non-traditional realm" for the entertainment giant.

For their final, 10-minute presentation, Cal Poly's four, fourth-year students introduced themselves in character as theme-park patrons. As a business man, a family man, a young adult and a 15-year-old, they described what about Frequency would draw them to the bayside music center.

They also showed a one-minute movie about the project in a music-video format, added animated graphics, and wrapped up the presentation by giving each judge a car-radio-like "gift box" with marketing pieces inside -- T-shirts, business cards and a pamphlet emblazoned with the logo they created for the project.

"The judges were appreciative that we ventured to a place Disney has not gone," team member and architecture student Brian Gallo of Fresno said. "Our presentation was very Disneyfied, but with a little sharper, harder edge. We were up for about three weeks straight to refine our ideas.

"The competition was a blast," he added, "and a really great experience."

"It was a real-life experience with different minds creating different things," said team member Matthew Kull of Poway, a graphic communication major, "and we had to work as a team to balance that creative process. This competition was a chance of a lifetime that I wouldn't trade for anything!"

The team's fourth member, architecture student Charles Dellinger of Rialto, has accepted a summer internship with Walt Disney Imagineering in Burbank.

"The accomplishments of these students is the result of their hard work and dedication to achieve the highest standards for their professional education and development," said team advisor and Architecture Professor Joseph Amanzio. "This recognition is a tribute to their successful application of Cal Poly's learn-by-doing philosophy."

Disney's Imagi-Nations Competition is an annual contest for which students can propose anything from a character in a story to a ride in a theme park to whatever creative project their imaginations can conjure up.

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