Dedicated to innovation, The Walt Disney Company aims to enhance storytelling by seamlessly blending cutting-edge technology with boundless creativity, a synergy prominently showcased within Disney Experiences, all thanks to the ingenious work of Disney Imagineers.
Since its inception in 1952, Walt Disney Imagineering has been at the forefront of creating magical and immersive experiences that connect and inspire across generations and borders. Combining storytelling, art, science and technology, Disney Imagineers continuously push boundaries to make the impossible, possible.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame Welcomes Lanny Smoot
In recognition of the boundless innovation within Walt Disney Imagineering, Lanny Smoot, the Disney Research Fellow and Imagineer behind mind-blowing special effects like making Madame Leota float inside the Haunted Mansion and our state-of-the art Star Wars lightsabers, is being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Lanny is the first Disney Imagineer to receive this prestigious recognition and only the second individual from The Walt Disney Company to be inducted — the first being Walt Disney, honored posthumously for the multiplane camera.
For over 45 years, Lanny has worked as a theatrical technology creator, inventor, electrical engineer, scientist and researcher, resulting in an impressive collection of over 100 patents, a milestone not often achieved by many inventors. 74 of his patents were created during his 25 years at The Walt Disney Company.
“At Disney Experiences, we’re committed to world-class storytelling, creativity and innovation in everything we do, and Lanny Smoot embodies every one of those ideals,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Experiences. “As Disney’s most prolific inventor, Lanny continues to amaze all of us with his artistic ingenuity, technical expertise and endless imagination.”
Innovation in Fire Safety
When deciding which of his patents to list for his National Inventors Hall of Fame induction, Lanny chose to highlight “Where’s the Fire?” at Innoventions, previously featured at EPCOT. This interactive exhibit aimed to educate guests on fire safety and the importance of fire prevention through engaging challenges. Guests were able to “shine” a special flashlight device on the walls of a house and through the magic of Lanny’s technology, they were able to spot fire dangers and learn to prevent these from happening in the future.
HoloTile and the Technologies of Tomorrow
Currently, he is working on the HoloTile floor, the world’s first, and only, multi-person, omni-directional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor, where any number of people can have a shared virtual reality experience, walk an unlimited distance in any direction, but never collide or walk off its surface. Besides the immediate VR and gaming applications and potential theme park uses, the HoloTile floor can be an insert in a theatrical stage, allowing performers to move and dance in new ways, or stage props and structures could move around or appear to set themselves up.
“As a life-long inventor, I am excited, delighted and humbled to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame,” Lanny shared. “To be included alongside my childhood hero, Thomas Edison, and my lifelong role model, Jim West — the inventor of the electret microphone, is both exciting and humbling. And as someone who’s had the privilege of working at The Walt Disney Company, it’s especially meaningful to know that Walt Disney himself is also an inductee.”
Lanny’s forward-thinking inventions have not only shaped Disney’s entertainment landscape but have also empowered the broader theatrical community to create new magic, illusions and entertainment.
Congratulations to Lanny Smoot on this remarkable achievement and to all of this year’s National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees!