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Live Active Cultures

D23's Disney Fanniversary 2013 was a bit butt-numbing, even for this hard-core Disnerd

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This year's freewheeling Q&A, hosted by Universal Studios designer Kim Gromoll, covered the usual subjects, such as "how to break into the business" (network, knock on doors, never give up) and "hand-drafted vs. computer-aided" (always begin with pencil and paper). But there were also unexpected tales of theming triumph and travesty:
– Imagineer Matt Usi is such a Star Wars geek that he has a Wampa rug on his wall, but even he found it "sickening" to ride Star Tours 34 times a day during testing.
– Cecil Magpuri of Falcon's Treehouse eulogized his unbuilt Apollo 13 ride, an indoor coaster that would have delivered a 2.3G launch and seven seconds of weightlessness; "the highest budgeted project for Universal at the time" was shelved for the Men in Black ride.
– Local actress Summer Aiello shared her struggle to break into the comedy "boys club" and the joy of converting audiences who think that "girls aren't funny."
– SeaWorld Parks' Brian Morrow originally wanted propane flames to shoot from the top of Cheetah Hunt's tower in Busch Gardens: "It would have been totally badass."
– Michael Roddy wrote a failed X-Men stunt show at Germany's MovieWorld for an ex-Olympic diver director who wanted a dancing Wolverine without claws.

There were scores of insider stories, but Morrow gave the best quote of the night, critiquing new smartphone-based technology like Disney's MyMagic+: "People [look at screens] at home all day long. They come to theme parks to connect with their families, not their devices."

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