Students Win Awards in Walt Disney Imagineering’s 27th Imaginations Design Competition

(L-R) Maya Vyas, Michael Howell, Maria Mondloch, Carlos Ginatta, Corrie Pickering, Cameron Hoss, Emily Sasaki, Claire Puginier ©Disney Photo: Gary Kruege
(L-R) Maya Vyas, Michael Howell, Maria Mondloch, Carlos Ginatta, Corrie Pickering, Cameron Hoss, Emily Sasaki, Claire Puginier ©Disney Photo: Gary Kruege
Two teams from Savannah College of Art and Design and a team from Otis College of Art and Design walked away with the top honors from Walt Disney Imagineering’s 27th Imaginations Design Competition. Started in 1991 by Disney Legend and Imagineering executive, the late Marty Sklar, this unique and creative competition seeks out and nurtures the next generation of diverse Imagineers.

This year, teams were challenged to select an actual abandoned “ghost town” from anywhere in the world and revitalize it. The location could be a working town, a historical landmark, a living museum, a themed experience, or whatever else the contestants dreamed up. Entries had to consider the historic value, as well as have respect for the traditions and communities of the original and surrounding areas of the location.

First place was awarded to Carlos Ginatta, Michael Howell, Maria Mondloch, and Maya Vyas from Savannah College of Art and Design for Caguaya. Built around the sunken ruins of the 17th century city of Port Royal, this exploration center takes guests below the waves to discover the city’s vibrant history. At Caguaya, guests explore the city through state-of-the-art tunnels never before used in open water, get a closer look with augmented reality enhanced helmet dives, and help plant scientifically engineered super coral. To finish their visit, guests experience a live performance from a fully submersible theatre that transcends land and sea.

Of the experience, Team Caguya recounted, “This whole week and experience has been so exciting. We appreciate how much Disney has opened their doors to us and we enjoyed the rare opportunity to see how the magic is made. We have had so much fun preparing for this competition and learning from all the Imagineers we’ve met this week.”

Second place went to Cameron Hoss, Corrie Pickering, Claire Puginier, and Emily Sasaki from Savannah College of Art and Design for Spaceport Hashima. Located a few miles off the coast of Japan, Spaceport Hashima is an epicenter of both traditional and Japanese culture. Created from renovating existing buildings of a former Japanese ghost town, Hashima is a thriving interplanetary terminal surrounded by a world-class luxury destination resort, featuring museums, world-renowned restaurants, and lively nightlife, as well as research and development facilities.

Team Spaceport Hashima also expressed their gratitude for the program. “Having the opportunity to visit the studios of Walt Disney Imagineering has in reality been the greatest prize we could have hoped to win in this competition. We are leaving inspired and hopeful that we will get to come back and help in creating the magic happening behind the curtain.”

The top placed team is awarded a cash prize of $1,000, and an additional $1,000 grant is awarded to the sponsoring university.

The six teams of finalists received an all-expense paid trip to Walt Disney Imagineering in California from January 22 to 26 to meet and network with Imagineers, go behind-thescenes to see how Disney magic is created, and interview for paid internships during their visit.

Throughout the years, hundreds of students from universities all across the United States have participated in this competition and had the opportunity to present their projects to Imagineering executives. Many of them have become interns and fulfilled their dream of working alongside Imagineers. Some have even become full-time Imagineers and returned to serve as mentors or judges for future Imaginations competitions.

For more information on the Imaginations Design Competition, visit

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