Photo courtesy of D23

Photo courtesy of D23

This past weekend while attending the D23 Expo, I had the honor of sitting in on the panel ‘One Little Spark’ hosted by none other than the legendary Marty Sklar, and the co-writers of his book. During this panel, Marty and each member of his team shared a bit about their story, and what inspired them to follow their dreams.

First, Marty himself shared a few snippets about the road to becoming an Imagineer, and what it takes to succeed as one [Hint: It all starts with… ‘One Little Spark’]




Up next was senior special effects designer Daniel Joseph. Joseph went to college for an industrial design degree and worked at haunted houses in Philadelphia prior to becoming a part of the Disney Family. At an early age, he was inspired by Yale Gracey  who designed many of the special effects for the rides ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘The Haunted Mansion’.

D23 EXPO 2015 - D23 EXPO, the ultimate Disney fan event, brings together all the past, present and future of Disney entertainment under one roof. Taking place August 14-16, this year marks the fourth D23 EXPO at the Anaheim Convention Center and promises to be the biggest and most spectacular yet. (Disney/Image Group LA)

Daniel Joseph photo courtesy of D23

Following Joseph was Dex Tanksley, product design manager. Tanksley fell in love with the Disney Parks and a child, and got his start by winning first place in Disney’s Imaginations design competition. The first time he saw ‘Fantasmic’, he knew being an Imagineer was his calling. When talking about creativity, Tanksley stated: “The universe is infinite, so why should the sky be the limit…To infinity and beyond!”IMG_3677

Shelby Jiggetts-Tivony, a creative development executive, spoke next. Her journey didn’t begin as a child visiting the Disney Parks, she fell in love with theater, and was later head hunted by Disney after making a name for herself working at the Lincoln Center in New York.


Last was Kevin Rafferty, a creative director who got his start as a dishwasher at Disneyland. Initially, Rafferty wanted to become an animator, and earned an entry-level Imagineering job after applying to work on Epcot. Most recently, Rafferty worked on Cars Land, and was allowed to create the theme song for ‘Maters Junkyard Jamboree’ as a birthday gift from John Lasseter.


Marty Sklar stated during the panel, “I think you have to fail a few times. If not, you’re not trying anything new,” which was the over all message shared by his team. Not every idea is great, not every idea will make it. However, with imagination & determination, great things can come from one little spark.

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