You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality. – “Walt Disney
Who are the people who make Walt’s dream a reality? Walt Disney’s dream was to build an amusement park that families can take their children. I’ve visited Disneyland countless times with my family. And, every time, we step through the gates we get lost in Walt’s magic of Tomorrowland. I often wonder what the cultural icon, the innovator, the pioneer would think of the Disney theme parks today, as well as, the movies that are bearing his name.
In the film “Tomorrowland,” Young Frank Walker has his own dreams of the future. He’s an inventor and determined to make them come to fruition, but just like Walt he couldn’t do it alone.
Who are the people behind the Disney magic? We are learning more and more about the culture icon, the man behind Disney, but what about the other visionaries that bring Disney to life? At a recent press event at Disneyland, I met two Disney visionaries who shared their background with us.
First off, Charita Carter has worked for Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) for 17 years, and is currently a Senior Creative Producer. She has played a major part in creating Disney Attractions around the globe. Outside of her Disney career, she is a hand model, avid gardener, award-winning photographer and proves taking chances can lead to exciting and rewarding opportunities!
As women, she believes we can inspire young girls to dream
Girls, kids in general, but especially girls, need role models of people doing what they’re imagining to do. And sometimes, you want to encourage them to do something that nobody else has done yet. Be that trailblazer! So, I think role models are really good. Just making sure that our girls are exposed to as much as possible, being able to have people that they really look up to. Not necessarily to imitate, but like I said to be inspired by what they do. I think we as, women, moms, big sisters, we need to really show fearlessness, and just show that we’re not limited by fear. We can lead by example. You know, I have a co-worker who, who took on an assignment and she was really hesitant. And she told me the thing that really made her decide to do it was that she had two nieces that she knew were looking at her. And, the message she wanted to give them was to take a risk. Step out, do something new, and that was the thing that pushed her to go ahead and take the unique assignment.
She was part of the Imagineering Photo Club
I started out with my photography as a hobbyist. I got real excited because I had friends who were really good photographers and wanted to get involved. But the thing that was really cool, we started a photography club at Imagineering and I was on the committee. And, I volunteered to be the person to go out and see if professional photographers would come and speak to us. And that was a good move because you had the opportunity to talk with them. And, I ended up getting to go on different photo shoots with some really renowned photographers.
And four years after having my camera, I entered a contest that somebody had suggested, because they said regardless of how you do, it was a particular contest that had judges that would critique your work. And I thought, “Well, I’d love some professional critiques.” By the fourth year, I submitted and actually was a finalist in the contest. It was run out of London, um, at the Cube Gardens. I had an opportunity to go to the artist reception.
It’s a great creative outlet for me. I see how it impacts people. I think, that’s the part that excites me. People get inspired when they see my work, and I really want to just become as good as I possibly can. So, it’s a wonderful creative outlet.
Imagineering then and now
Well, it’s very interesting because I have changed my roles several times. I started out as an accountant, as you know, and now I’m in the creative group. It’s constantly changing and we’re constantly growing in the sense that we have many more parks than we had when I first started. We have really branched out throughout Asia. So, there’s a lot of content that’s needed.
And I think one of the biggest changes is that our plates are fuller, so our strategies have had to change in terms of executing our product. We get an opportunity to really kind of mix it up with a number of different talents and that’s always been the case. But the more you’re trying to do, I think the more you get to accomplish now that we’re bigger and I think we’ve got more on our plate and that’s exciting, you know.
And basically, there is an opportunity for you to take on as much as you can possibly handle, and that’s always a great environment to be in to grow and to stretch. So, I think that’s how it’s kind of changed over the years.
Charita’s Tomorrowland would be filled with music offerings and hovercrafts!
Well, one thing that I really love in terms of entertainment is music, so I think that music would be kind of the forefront of what’s happening in Tomorrowland. I feel like it’s such a language that inspires people and moves people. So, I would be focusing on ways that we could deliver musical offerings to our guests in unique ways, I think. The whole transportation aspect, you know, we joke at work. We are always trying to run around and do so many different things and I often say, “I wish I had a hovercraft.” So my Tomorrowland would have a hovercraft so that we can do more things. I’d love to get some attention in my Tomorrowland to really helping people “unplug” because we do live in such a fast-paced, “information overload world.” I think we want to make sure that we’re advancing the future. That we’re not neglecting the ability for people to really just unplug, be creative, you know? And really kind of take the time to communicate. Know who they really are.
Because those are the things that drive innovation and creativity, so we’d want to make sure that those things are intact in the next Tomorrowland.
The most exciting project in her career involved Johnny Depp!
I think one of the ones that come to mind was my first, comprehensive project in the park. It was at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and it was Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. I did get to work with Johnny Depp. And that was exciting, but I think the thing that really excited me, too, was it was one of the first times that a lot of the work my particular team had been working on the same project. It was our first opportunity to execute it, and get it in front of guests, and then the fact that it was so well-received. You know, just made it even sweeter.
Charita has an infectious smile, is energetic and has pretty hands! She’s actually a hand model and was discovered by another hand model, while riding a tram at the Getty museum. The model gave Charita her agent’s card, which she promptly put away. Sometime later, she contacted the agent, had an audition and was told, “I could make money off of you.” You just never know what opportunities are available if you never take the chance. She also shares, “it’s funny because some of the things I’ve been exposed to as a hand model, has actually helped me at Imagineering.”
You might have seen Charita’s hand during a Visa commercial or doing a commercial spot during the Superbowl!
Charita is on Instagram @Wedgyrl. Check out her work!
Stay tuned for my talk with Disney Dreamer Mike Goslin!
Tomorrowland is out on Blu-ray on October 13th!
* I attended an all-expense paid trip hosted by Disney (featuring Tomorrowland, Aladdin & Disney Movies Anywhere). I was not compensated. Opinions are my own.