Griffith native Jeff De Boer showcased his creative talent in January as a finalist in the 23rd annual Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations Design Competition in Glendale, Calif.
De Boer’s project, created with teammates from Savannah College of Art and Design, was chosen from more than 230 submissions nationwide to be presented to Imagineering executives.
“Imagineers are responsible for designing, creating, and building all of the Disney properties across the globe. They are the dreamers, doers and thinkers that make Disney magic a reality,” De Boer said.
“Our project was a fully immersive experience where families get to live their own adventures and write their own stories. It is a combination of a choose your own adventure book, a Disney theme park and the old game show Legends of the Hidden Temple,” he added.
De Boer, 34, is a Themed Entertainment Design student at Savannah College of Art and Design, and previously earned his bachelor’s degree in computer graphics technology from Purdue University.
“I’ve always wanted to become an Imagineer. When I saw the MFA program at Savannah College of Art and Design and that it was taught by former Imagineers George Head and Mike Devine, I applied the next day.”
Although De Boer and his team did not win, his experience was something he will never forget. “Being able to talk with the Imagineers that I’ve read about for years was a dream come true, and walking into the building that houses Imagineering headquarters was overwhelming,” he said.
“These are the rooms and hallways where my heroes essentially created the theme park industry. We sat in the room where Walt Disney had all of his secret plans and meetings about the Walt Disney World project and roamed the halls where some of the most recognizable attractions and properties were created.”
De Boer is a member of the Themed Entertainment Association and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, and is active in the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso, both on stage and as a set designer and director.
He recently became engaged to Mary Herrod, a budding opera singer.