Lanny Smoot: First Disney Imagineer inducted into Inventors Hall of Fame
Being a Disney Imagineer, Lanny Smoot is, as he says, “in service of people having fun.” And he’s nothing if not industrious. His long career as a theatrical technology creator, investor, electrical engineer, scientist, and researcher has resulted in an incredible 106 patents, 74 of which were accrued during his 25 years working for The Walt Disney Company.
To celebrate his years of hard work, Smoot will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May this year. He’s the first Disney Imagineer – and only the second person from The Walt Disney Company, apart from Walt himself – to receive that honor.
“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 of Disney Experiences. “As Disney’s most prolific inventor, Lanny continues to amaze all of us with his artistic ingenuity, technical expertise, and endless imagination.”
Among his many Disney-related accomplishments, Smoot is responsible for crafting a state-of-the-art extendable Star Wars lightsaber, allowed Madame Leota to ‘float’ through the Séance Circle in The Haunted Mansion, invented the Disney Cruise Line’s Magic PlayFloor interactive game experience, produced the immersive Fortress Explorations adventure at Tokyo DisneySea, and designed the virtual and interactive koi ponds at the Crystal Lotus Restaurant at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.
“I was honored and humbled at being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame,” said Smoot. “With all of the inventing greats, however, I caught a true lump in my throat when I realized that I was only the second person at The Walt Disney Company being presented with this honor, and the first person was Walt Disney himself.”
But Smoot’s no stranger to awards. He’s previously won three Thea Awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) for his work, and in 2020, his expertise in theatrical technicality earned him the revered title of TEA Master.
Not showing any signs of slowing down, Smoot is currently working on the HoloTile floor, the world’s first multi-person, multi-directional, modular, expandable treadmill floor. It allows any number of people to share a virtual reality (VR) experience, walk an unlimited distance without colliding with anyone or anything and without walking off the floor’s edge. Smoot envisions using the HoloTile floor in a theatrical setting, so that performers can move and dance in new ways, or to allow stage props and structures to move and appear to set themselves up.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on May the 9th, 2024, at The Anthem Auditorium in Washington D.C.
Smoot is interviewed in the video below, produced by Disney Parks, where he speaks about some of his inventions, including his newest, HoloTile Floor technology, and how he feels about being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Source: The Walt Disney Company