Frank Mezzatesta
HomeWork HistoryDisney YearsMiniClassesThoughtsPatentsThea Awards
Walt Disney Imagineering Buildings

Imagineering Buildings
When I hired on in 1979 I worked in the main 1401 Flower building. Behind that was the Mapo building that housed Mapo, the manufacturing part of Imagineering, and many of the engineers. There was the 800 Sonora building with Human Resources. It was rather small, maybe 400 employees. A major project was an attraction, not a land or a whole park.

My office was next to a main hallway. I could literally stand in that hallway and just wait a few minutes and a number of people working on my project would walk by. It was easy to get work done this way. I was a few steps from the cafeteria and there was another place to find everyone and ask a quick question or get an answer to something.

Very soon the number of employees started sky rocketing as people were hired for EPCOT and we reached some 2,200 permanent employees and many contractors. All these employees started filling out other buildings in the area.

After Epcot, the president of Imagineering, Carl Bongirno, gathered everyone to tell us that new projects would be on the way and everyone would keep their jobs. Well a few months later the layoffs started and every Friday for weeks and weeks people were being left go. At first it wasn't that bad but as time went on, people that had been there 10 and 20 years were being let go. When it was all over, there was about 400 people left. Somehow I was still there.

It seemed that now projects became bigger than one attraction. Most projects became a new land or a whole new park. The days of standing outside your office in the 1401 building was gone. Imagineering was in many building blocks away from each other.

As time when on, this hire then layoff cycle seemed to happen a few more times. Finally very recently with projects like Shanghai Disneyland there was a concept of a "project hire". These were regular permanent employees but they were told at the start when their "project" was over, their job would end. This seemed better for all and maybe more like the movie industry were you are hired for a single movie. Many of the real good ones might go on the to next project or be converted to a regular employee.

These building were given names mostly based of what company used to be in them. Not sure why we did this. Or it was just the address. Still to this day you will say, I have a meeting at 1401. So there was the 1401 building, the Mapo building, and the Sonora building. Then there was the Lamsco building that housed the controls engineers at 1101 Flower. I was there for a few years. Across the street where there mechanical engineers moved to from the Mapo building was the casket building. Yes S&S Casket company used to be in that building and we would say, hey I have a meeting in the casket building. Around the corner at 1200 Grand Central was the Coke building. I would move there when I transferred to R&D. I mention it because we were told not the call it the Coke building. The implication was a reference to cocaine I assume because Coca-Cola was a sponsor. So caskets are OK but not Coke?

Years later and including right now the ride engineers are in the Bob's Big Boy building. That name didn't stick, it is the "ride" building. The Mapo building is still the Mapo building even though they moved out years ago and was taken over by specific project teams.

Many times over the years a new Imagineering campus was imagined but nothing ever materialized.

They are many more building on the Imagineering campus today. Many building I was in were bulldozed to build the new Consumer Products campus including the Coke building. R&D moved to the Chastain building. I have no idea why it is called that.

Back to Disney Years