He’s behind all the magic!
Disney honored imagineer Lanny Smoot, the owner of more than 100 patents, the most of any Disney employee.
According to Disney Parks, Smoot has been with the company for more than two decades, his passion for creating and inventions inspired by his father.
“Growing up, our family did not have a lot of money. My dad was a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and taught himself how to make many mechanical gadgets, including several of my early toys. One of my earliest childhood memories was him bringing home an electric bell, a light bulb, some batteries and wire. He set up the bell to ring and the bulb to light, and that light lit my career!,” Smoot recalled.
That career would eventually land Smoot at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), working in technology and research. Now, as a Disney Research Fellow, Smoot has reached the pinnacle of technical research and achievement at WDI, leading the Research and Development team to create new innovative technology that allows for magical experiences for Disney guests.
“My mindset is to create things that are fun, entertaining, often surprising and, hopefully, a bit ahead of their time. At Disney, I can work on cutting edge technologies that are designed to make people happy. What’s not to like?!,” said Smoot.
Smoot and his team are always drumming up new technology, thinking outside the box to create things that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. Not only does Smoot work on technology for the Disney parks, but also for their cruise ships and other Disney brand offerings. The team goes back and forth creating, choosing the best of their design technology to roll out. Recently, Disney Parks celebrated with Smoot as he received his 100th patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office , Smoot totaling 102 patents to date, the most of any employee in Walt Disney Company history.
“We’re constantly inventing, and constantly trying to live up to Walt’s dream – that our work will never be done as long as we have guests to entertain,” Smoot said.
The inventor also lends himself to work around advocacy for STEAM education and opportunities for students of color. Recently, Smoot served as a judge for an Innovation Challenge sponsored by Disney on the Yard for HBCUs. He says that diversity in the fields of science and technology are critical to the evolution of the field and the creation of future inventors.
“We need to give young students – especially Black students and people of color – experience in these fields. The Walt Disney Company is digging deeply into this by making sure that we mentor diverse young people, and I’ve done that many times – sharing my technical knowledge with people who are interested in doing technology but may not have in the past had the exposure that they need,” Smoot explained.
Disney Parks is highlighting and celebrating the contributions of their Black creators, cast members, fans, and guests all Black History Month.
Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks