View Full Version : Lunch with an Imagineer

03-05-2004, 02:57 PM
Hi all,

Just thought I'd quickly pass along my experience with the lunch with an imagineer program, as it was the highlight of our trip, and something I had trouble finding much info about myself prior to the trip. My mom and I signed up for this, which includes a 4 course lunch at the Brown Derby at MGM (a fav of ours anyway) in a private room with plenty of time to talk to your imagineer about what they do. Our imagineer was Jason Surrell, who wrote the book about the Haunted Mansion movie and attraction and is an Imagineer writer for Disney. He not only does the spiels for attractions and the monorail and so forth, but he also helps condense ideas from meetings of designers and engineers and so forth down to a page that everyone involved in the creation of something can work off of and have the same goals and ideas in mind. It was incredibly interesting to hear what all he does and just to chat with someone as interested in all things Disney as I am.

The food was incredible, as always. The meal started with a corn chowder (normally served w/oysters in it, but we opted out of them...not a fan) with a lime frisee topping, then a mini version of the cobb salad, followed by your choice of 3 entrees (grouper, which was INCREDIBLE, filet mignon, or a bbq chicken dish), and finally a bananas foster cheesecake for dessert. They were very accomodating to any requests you had for the dishes. We were in our very own private room (the Bamboo room, which actually Jason had helped design) and the manager of the restaurant welcomed us and then came to make sure that everything was ok at the end (and stayed and chatted with us for awhile, which was great!).

We were told it could be anywhere from 2 to 8 people at the lunch, in addition to the imagineer. It turned out to just be my mom and I. This was definitely the highlight of our trip and we would do it again on another trip. It is an expensive experience...over 60 dollars a person, but worth every penny. I highly recommend it to anyone who really loves Disney and wants to find out more about what Imagineers do and talk to someone who really loves Disney. To put it in perspective, we also did the KTTK tour, only slightly less expensive, and were rather disappointed in the experience, as we learned very few new things, and mostly spent the time getting shoved onto rides, rather than seeing or learning anything new.

Any questions, feel free to ask... I can't say enough great things about this experience!!!

03-05-2004, 06:43 PM
Thanks for the review. I didn't really know much about the program so I am glad you shared. Sounds like something DH and I would love. Do you book it through the regular tour dept? Is Brown Derby the only rest.? Can you do lunch or dinner? Sorry for all the ?'s.

I hate had a less than magical experience on the KTTK tour. We just did it back and Jan and it was the highlight of our trip! We had Matthew for a tour guide and he was great. We learned so much.


03-05-2004, 09:55 PM
Both lunch and dinner are both always at the Brown Derby (probably because it has the private room). You actually just call the 407-WDW-DINE number and tell them you want to do it. It more or less gets set up like a PS, except you give them a credit card to guarantee it (nothing gets charged unless you don't show up or you fail to cancel at least 48 hours before). When you get to the restaurant, you check in, just like for a PS, only you tell them you're there for the lunch or dinner with an imagineer, and they bring you back when your Imagineer is there and everything is ready. It was all really simple to set up, and as I said, the absolute highlight of our trip.

I'm glad to hear that most people do have a better KTTK experience. I'm sure we will give it another go on a future trip...perhaps one of the Epcot tours.

And if you have any other questions, feel free to ask away!

03-05-2004, 09:57 PM
Oh and yes, they do have both lunch and dinner, although dinner is even more expensive at more like $99 dollars a person (I believe the meal is a bit more elaborate and includes wine pairings for each course). They offer each a couple times a week and if you call the WDW-DINE people, they can tell you which days it will be when you will be there (I think it varies depending on time of year and so forth).

03-06-2004, 09:17 AM
DS(12) and I had lunch with an Imagineer in December. We were joined by 5 other guests which really kept the conversation interesting and flowing. We loved it! Highly recommend it!

:Pinkbounc :bounce: :Pinkbounc :bounce:

03-06-2004, 10:04 AM
How long does it last?

03-06-2004, 01:10 PM

ours was 2 1/2 hours that seemed more like about 45 minutes!!! we would have all stayed and continued to talk but the restaurant manager came in and basically told us we had to go!

:bounce: :Pinkbounc :Pinkbounc :bounce:

03-06-2004, 11:35 PM
Ours was just over 2 hours, plus we spent another 45 mins or so talking to the restaurant manager after our Imagineer had left. I believe they typically tell you 2 to 2.5 hours (they are working that day after all, so they have to get back to "real" work...).

Poohs Pal
03-08-2004, 12:11 AM
LauraAngel: My sister and I did this in December and also really enjoyed ourselves and the other guests.
would love to do lunch with an artist if they bring it back. Glad you had a great time. Susan

JC Butterfly
03-10-2004, 02:03 PM
This sounds really interesting, but I wouldn't know what to ask them! I would love to just hear an Imagineer talk about what they do and what it's like to work for Disney, but what if I can't think of anything specific to ask? Do you think they are pretty good at carrying on the conversation?


03-10-2004, 03:36 PM
I am also very interested in knowing what you talked about (although I must admit, I am a chatterbox!)

Did they clue you in on any secrets?

03-10-2004, 04:05 PM
Our Imagineer told us we were his first lunch. He said there is a LONG list of people signed up just wanting to participate and Disney is letting everyone get a chance to do it.

I too was a little concerned about conversation but then quickly realized it would not be a problem. We went around the table introducing ourselves and talking about why we wanted a luncheon with an Imagineer . . . what special interests or questions did we have. He began by telling us all the jobs he had with Disney before becoming an Imagineer. Then we all just started firing questions. He told us up front there were no silly questions. He did have a few secrets that he could not completely reveal but was wonderful at sharing all the info he could.

If you are lucky enough to snare one of these occasions then go for it! It is something you will never forget. You need not worry about conversation - it will just flow.

:bounce: :Pinkbounc :bounce: :Pinkbounc

03-10-2004, 10:01 PM
It was just the two of us with our Imagineer, and neither of us had any questions prepared or anything. The conversation just flows once you start talking about what exactly your Imagineer does and has worked on. Obviously to work for Disney in that sort of capacity, they tend to know a lot and be really into Disney stuff, so there's always plenty to talk about. We discussed everything from how he got started at Disney and what all he's done to what our favorite rides and Disney movies were. He did let us in on a few secrets, and the "inside" story on some things that differs from the "official" word on them. I wouldn't worry too much about keeping the coversation going. Again, I would tell you over and over again how great this was, if you're considering it, DEFINITELY go for it... it was absolutely fantastic.

Interestingly, the manager of the Brown Derby was telling us that there are lots of Imagineers who take part in the program, that they enjoy doing it (and get a yummy free lunch!) but that they don't have a lot of guests who take advantage of it, mostly because they don't really advertise it themselves at Disney. They rely on word of mouth, websites like this, and the mention in books like the Passporter (the only guidebook I've seen mention this at all). They don't advertise it, because it's such a limited capacity thing and they get enough people this way to keep it going without overwhelming it. Definitely a good reason to keep reading these boards!