Category Amateur Projects

Bedroom Light Show

Project Details

Name

Disney Magic

Date Completed

Mid-1990s

Type

Location

At Home

Summary

A light show manually choreographed to music setup in my bedroom

As a teenager, I often spent my free time dreaming up ways to entertain people – my family, friends, neighborhood kids. Once such expression of this was a light show that I created in my bedroom. This show was choreographed to music from classic Disney theme park entertainment, such as “Baroque Hoedown” from The Main Street Electrical Parade, or music from IllumiNations 25 at Epcot. I invested in special “hologram glasses” that spectators would wear to further enhance the excitement. I called the show, “Disney Magic.” The show was controlled by a home-made light board that I built with the help of a friend and a do-it-yourself book on house wiring. I literally sat at the control board and, much like a pianist tickles the ivories, continuously flipped switches on and off in synch with the soundtrack. Eventually, the light show even spilled outside of my room and included a pre-show that took place in the hallway.

My first light control board was built into my desk drawer so that I could hide it away when not in use.
As the show grew, more channels were needed, so this larger control board was built to add capacity.

Check It Out: Click to view a video of the Disney Magic preshow

Check It Out: Click to view a video excerpt of the Disney Magic main show (with the hologram glasses effect!)

Images from the show:

Haunted Mansion Office

Project Details

Name

Haunted Mansion Office

Date Completed

Perpetually being improved!

Type

Location

At Home

Summary

Multimedia sound & light show tribute to Disney's Haunted Mansion attractions

My first memory of visiting Walt Disney World is as a six-year-old, and includes a visit to the Dutch Gothic styled Haunted Mansion looming on a hill overlooking Liberty Square. I can remember being curious of what was inside, but the prologue – with that infamous stretching room – put me on edge. Once on board our “Doombuggies,” my face remained firmly planted into my dad’s side, with my eyes only opening every once in a while to catch just a quick glimpse.

That fright as a child gradually turned into an obsession as I got older. Today, The Haunted Mansion is my favorite Disney attraction of all time. The perfect blend of spooky and silly made it an instant classic that is just as popular today as it was when it opened in 1969. I would dare call myself a Haunted Mansion aficionado, though I’m always thirsty to learn new things about Mansion lore. A fun fact about me is that I can launch into the macabre narration of the entire ride – both the East Coast and West Coast versions – upon request.

A favorite pastime of mine as a teenager was creating attractions to entertain people. Perhaps a manifestation of my fascination with the Disney Haunted Mansion, I would often gather my cousins together and create a haunted house in my grandma’s basement…usually at our annual Christmas family gathering. More appropriately, our house became known in our neighborhood on halloween as the house that had a haunted garage. Over the years, I produced several versions with the help of my sister and friends.

Programming Mark’s Haunted Mansion Office 2.0.

It only makes sense that when I got older and owned my own home, these two past projects would collide as I built a Haunted Mansion themed light show in my home office. Much like the original light shows of my childhood, the original show was controlled manually with some cleverly hidden switches and was presented with me delivering the narration in full. Eventually, I invested in a Light-O-Rama kit that is typically used to control Christmas light shows and programmed it to create a fully automated Haunted Mansion tribute experience.

Check It Out: Click to view a “commercial” for Mark’s Haunted Mansion Office

The Haunted Mansion Office has moved several times, and the setup has changed over the years. It continues to be a work in progress with new features being added whenever time and budget allows.

“Elf” Thanksgiving

Project Details

Name

Elf Thanksgiving

Date Completed

November 2018

Type

Location

At Home

Summary

Thematic elements designed and built for an "Elf" themed Thanksgiving

A fun tradition that my in-laws implemented several years ago is to hold themed Thanksgiving celebrations. What could be more fun than enjoying Thanksgiving dinner in a themed environment and in costume? Some of the past themes have included lumberjacks, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars and pirates. In 2018, I had the opportunity to help create the scenery for the “Elf” themed thanksgiving.

My portion of the project was to recreate the rolling snowy hills of the North Pole as they were depicted in the movie. Our North Pole was setup around the pool deck. In order to cover up the rest of the backyard, we used blue curtains to create a “sky” backdrop, then cut out the rolling hills of snow out of pieces of plywood and painted them white. The effect was then completed with dual projectors creating a snowfall effect on the backdrop. Here are some images of the project in progress and the completed effect.

We started by stringing up cables between various posts and hanging the curtains between posts.
Two mirrored projectors displayed an animated snowfall projected onto the blue backdrop.
The individual curtains were then carefully pinned together to create the full backdrop.
Repurposed pallet boards were cut into tree shapes and painted white to extend the decor.

Check It Out: Click here to view the snowfall scene in action!

Although my portion of the event was the design, construction and animation of the North Pole backdrop, the theme was completed with other scenes from the Elf film:

wdimagic.com

Project Details

Name

wdimagic.com

Date Completed

October 2002

Type

Location

Online

Summary

Fan-created website celebrating all things Walt Disney Imagineering

When I was in college in the late 90’s, I took a basic HTML coding class. Back then, the internet was a world of dial-up modems and you were doing pretty good if your screen size was 800×600 pixels. From that very basic HTML knowledge, I decided to create a fan website about Walt Disney Imagineering just for fun. The first iteration was launched in 1999 and it was pretty crude, but it was a hobby that I enjoyed. I called the site, “The MAGIC of Walt Disney Imagineering.”

Back then, there wasn’t a lot of information out there about WDI. As an aspiring Imagineer myself, I was determined to gather as much information as I could and put it in one place. I kept adding new sections and new features to the site. As it continued to grow, I recruited my two best friends to help with some of the graphics and marketing of the site. We refined and updated the site and gave it a new look using the latest and greatest techniques of the day. We purchased a real domain name and re-branded the site as “wdimagic.com.”

At its peak, wdimagic.com was probably the most definitive website out there on the topic of Walt Disney Imagineering. As 2002 approached, we were gearing up to celebrate “Fifty Years of Imagineers,” since WDI – formerly known as WED Enterprises – was founded in 1952. Unfortunately, through a series of unfortunate events, our domain name was snatched out from under us and we were never able to recover. By that time, I was a full-time student also trying to hold down a full-time job. So I took the site down and it faded away into obscurity.

Those who were following us probably wondered what happened, as the site virtually disappeared overnight. Fortunately, I kept all of those old html files and I have been able to reconstruct the site as it would have appeared in late 2002 on it’s last day of operation.

By clicking on the link below, you will be taken back to 2002 and view the site in glorious 800×600 resolution! Note that, while I have done my best to reconstruct is as much as possible, there are still some things that may not work properly. Flash is obviously no longer supported, so those will just appear as blank boxes. Some links may not work anymore. Some images may not load properly. But, by and large, the majority of the site is still there and looks just the way I remember it. Note that this is most definitely NOT optimized for mobile viewing and likely will not display well on a mobile device!

Check It Out: Click here to visit wdimagic.com

Theme Park Master Plan

Project Details

Name

Theme Park Master Plan

Date Completed

December 2011

Type

Location

Undisclosed

Summary

Master plan layout for a unique theme park concept developed with friends

In 2003, I was selected to participate in the IAAPA Show Ambassador program at the annual expo in Orlando, Florida. This was my first time ever attending the IAAPA Expo, and I was right in my element the entire week I was there. Not only did I get exposure to the industry in a whole new way, but I also met so many other people who share this passion of the theme park industry with me. I formed so many close friendships with fellow Show Ambassadors which continue to this day.

Click to enlarge

Over the years, a few of us have tossed around some ideas for a unique theme park concept. While I didn’t come up with the original theme for the park, I have spent some time developing the idea with the permission of those who did. I’ve shared the concepts with the group and have received their input and feedback.

In 2010, I really started to focus on the development of this park idea even more. At that time, I crafted an elaborate backstory, refined and named the various lands, came up with some general attraction concepts, generated mood boards, conducted research on location and feasibility, created a general organizational structure and worked on a master plan of how the park and supporting infrastructure could fit on a real piece of property.

While the planning of this park really has been more of a passion project that may just be a pipe dream, I’m convinced that the high concept and some of the details are so unique that I hesitate to share them publicly. For this portfolio entry, I’ve taken the master plan layout of the park and removed any identifying information regarding the theme and proposed location.

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