Thomas’s wish was a little unusual. Many children want to visit Disneyland or Disney World, or take a Disney Cruise. They want to experience the magic. Thomas wanted to see how the magic is made, and the Disney Imagineers did not disappoint.
It was a beautiful day in Los Angeles. The Danaos were staying at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City. The stretch limo arrived at 9:15am, and since we were only a few miles from Disney Imagineering, I took the family on a tour of the local movie and television studios. We drove past Warner Bros. (where Thomas loved the images of the DC Comics super heroes), NBC’s West Coast headquarters, and then the Walt Disney Studio (where he also saw the animation building).
John Breckow, our Disney contact, was waiting when we arrived. The Imagineers don’t get a lot of wish requests and they were ready with a full morning.
First we saw how the Imagineers are working to make human robots more lifelike. They showed Thomas how they make a robot talk and move, like a human would do. Thomas was awed by how much the robot looked like an actual human.
Then we were taken into a studio where the Imagineers had created a robot of Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast. This attraction will be appearing at Disney World in a matter of weeks. First, they had us watch the show, then they had us step behind the curtain to see how the animation/robot worked.
Next they had a special surprise for Thomas. We walked to another building where one of Thomas’s favorite Disney characters, Wall-E, was waiting for him. Wall-E is a full-sized robot that works without being tethered to any cords or wires. Wall-E came up to greet Thomas and interact with his family. Then the Imagineers introduced Thomas to the man who was controlling Wall-E, and let Thomas do something that no guest has ever been allowed to do…control Wall-E. Thomas was beaming.
We then toured another building, where Thomas saw one of the original robots that Disney developed and the model that Disney is using to develop a new ride based on the 7 dwarfs. Down every hallway were posters and drawings that caught Thomas’s interest.
Thomas loves the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, so our guides showed him the room where the ride was created, the heads that are used to show singing ghosts, and explained some of the effects used in the ride.
For a final surprise, the Imagineers gave Thomas a chance to meet Lucky, a robot dinosaur, who, like Wall-E, can walk around the theme parks without being tethered to wires or cables. Lucky is so lifelike. After interacting with him for a while, Thomas was shown how they make Lucky walk and talk. Amazing!
Finally Disney provided us with a delicious lunch and two large gift bags for Thomas. When I asked Thomas if the wish met his expectations, he smiled and said “So much more.” He had a great day.
Max, Wish Granter
Make-A-Wish® Greater Los Angeles