Muse: Disney Imaginations Semifinalists 2020

We chose the name 'Muse' because it refers to both a state of contemplation and a source of inspiration, both key ideas in our project.

Our challenge was to create an experience on our campus or city that "serves as inspiration, honors the past, and is a vision of the future". Our team chose Walden Pond, a beautiful kettlehole in MA, and the birthplace of conservationism and transcendentalism. We wanted to create an experience that enhanced the natural beauty of the pond and inspired visitors to become more aware of themselves and the world around them.
I worked on defining the character of the chest and the story that it told, participating in both our research and brainstorming sessions. I created animations of the steam story in Photoshop, using footage I took of geysers steaming. The animations didn't make it into our final slides, but we learned what configurations of steam evoked which emotions, and I used these insights to create the final steam story slide.

The Experience

As more visitors flock to Walden Pond each year, we created Muse to emphasize the original qualities Walden was praised for - peaceful reflection, simplicity, and a spirit of idleness.

We took inspiration from a local legend about a chest in the pond which would only approach a visitor who was not seeking it selfishly. Otherwise, the chest would retreat back into the waters, unattainable.

We combined watercolor paintings and digital watercolor brushes to create a peaceful and old-fashioned look to our slides.

Muse, while staying unseen most of the time, will announce its presence with a puff of vapor to a guest seeking the 'spirit of idleness', as Thoreau would say.

In keeping with Walden's role as birthplace of the conservation movement, Muse is constructed with sustainably-sourced materials and blends into the natural landscape by using steam to communicate.

Steam was our chosen medium because visitors would inherently interpret the stories the chest tells in different ways, influenced by the patterns they see in the vapor and their own experiences and thoughts.

A mythos will revive around Muse, and thus build a community among visitors of Walden Pond as people help each other find the elusive chest or discuss their various interpretations of the experience.

Muse finishes its story of steam by enveloping the viewers in it to empower them to take action, to feel like they are as much a part of the story as others.


This project was conceived by the Olin College Team and created for the 2020 Walt Disney Imagineering's Imaginations Design Competition. This project is the sole property of Walt Disney Imagineering and all rights to use these ideas are exclusive to Walt Disney Imagineering.
The competition is a way for students and recent graduates to showcase their talents and for Walt Disney Imagineering to identify new talent.