Student headed for the blue sky

Woodbury University may not have placed in the final round of the Walt Disney Co.’s annual design concept competition, but for one student, the journey will pay dividends.

Mario Salazar scored a coveted paid internship in the Blue Sky department of Disney’s Imagineering operation.

“Blue Sky is the conceptual department at Imagineering,” Salazar said. “All ideas come out of here.”

Salazar and his Woodbury teammates — Manuel Grijalva, Kryzzalia Lopez and Aileen Ung — made it to the final round of Disney’s ImagiNations Design Competition with their concept, “Genie’s Magic Carpet Tours.”

During their presentation to a crowded room of current Imagineers, students explained how the experience of their concept, “Genie’s Magic Carpet Tours,” would begin before guests even board. Guests would stroll the streets of the fictional city of Agrabah, perusing tables of trinkets, jewelry and fruits.

Richly detailed drawings were projected on a large screen for the audience, bringing the concept to life. Once inside “Genie’s Magic Carpet Tours,” visitors would choose from such exotic destinations as the Bermuda Triangle or Atlantis.

The team also discussed the technical aspects of the ride, disguised as a magic carpet, and how a mechanical arm underneath the carpet would allow it to glide through the sky. Visitors would enter the Cave of Wonders and witness an “epic genie battle” between the character “Jafar” and the Genie before landing safely and exiting through a gift shop.

Despite losing out, Salazar and his teammates said they wouldn’t change anything about their project and offered some advice to future designers.

“Play to your strengths, be confident in what you’re doing and know your audience,” he said. “Senior Imagineers came up to us and made us feel so welcome. Really, there is nothing to be afraid of. Plus, they treat you like a rock star.”

The Imagineering department is the creative branch of Disney that designs theme parks, restaurants and resorts around the world.

With his new internship in the Blue Sky division, Salazar could find himself in the thick of figuring out how to pull off some the design challenges that come with Disney’s ambitions.

“Designers find a solution that will help you,” he said. “Blue Sky does the same thing.”

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