im-ag-i-neer’ing, n. Imaginative concept in Design, Architecture, Engineering and Entertainment – Sym. See Disneyland
Last week, a girl named Amelia set out on a mission to uncover a mystery she happened upon while sifting through old belongings of her grandfather’s – Carlos Moreau. With the hope of creating a documentary about his life, about the stories he’d tell her as a child, she discovered a series of photos and writings of his, from back in the day; from the 50′s and 60′s to be more precise.
One of her big discoveries was information about a short story he named “Orbit’s Story” (which he later sold to Walt Disney, and to which he never returned). With this in mind, Amelia set up a blog site at storyorbit.com where she continues to share her discoveries, and also began the @storyorbit twitter account for a little more personal touch with her followers.
She then discovered a letter sent to Carlos dated April 24 1964, from WED Enterprises Inc, inviting him to visit the World’s Fair in New York, and regarding a “special project”. The logo used by WED Imagineering is an illustration of the Tower of the Four Winds.
Further discoveries include photos taken in and around the “It’s a small world” [IASW] ride at the World’s Fair. The picture Amelia shared of the stack of photos included a couple of hand-written notes, also implying a secret “special project”.
One of the notes also included the phone number (607) 218-5820, that of a company named Lott Family Construction. Calling the number prompts an automated voicemail message from a rather non-technical individual, directing callers to the company’s website: LottFamilyConstruction.com.
This appears to be the company under which construction of the IASW exhibit was commissioned. Further research reveals that the name of its founder, Michael T Lott, does actually appear on a window on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom! Walt Disney and his crew had created fictional companies to purchase land in Florida, and Lott Family Construction may well be one of those companies (in case you haven’t got it yet – read, “M T Lott”)
However, it also seems that not only is it Michael who records the voicemail message, but you are able to contact the company – and Michael – through email. Is Michael Lott real and alive?
Something is fishy about this “special project”, and its connection to It’s a small world, and the Four Winds sculpture which greets people at the exhibit’s entrance.
The Lott Construction website’s client list includes a number of interesting projects, such Mystery Manor and Deluca Fields listed under Special Projects, which follows Cultural Landmarks including Progressland and “it’s a small world”.
Email responses from Michael Lott include a small disclaimer in the footer about privacy and security, but also instructions for clients about about how to access information about their ongoing projects – found on their website by simply appending the project code to the web address. Does this mean there are ‘secret’ projects we can explore on Lott’s website?
Next, Amelia shared a photo of another letter, this one dated June 23, 1952 – Disney’s first contact with Carlos, interested in his Orbit’s Story – over 10 years prior to Carlos’ invitation to the World’s Fair.
What exactly did Disney do with this mysterious short story of Carlos’?
Interestingly, speculation arose from Amelia’s followers regarding suspicious similarities in the discoveries so far… The letter from Walt Disney Productions to Carlos was dated 1952 – which happens to be the working title for Disney’s upcoming 2014 Damon Lindelof film Tomorrowland, taking place in 1964.
Back in January, in an eerily similar set of events, following a tweet by Damon Lindelof teasing a photo of a box only labeled “1952″, director Brad Bird tweeted a picture of the box opened, which revealed a whole mess of really cool old…stuff.
Could this be a new big ARG for Disney’s sci-fi flick Tomorrowland? All signs and theories point to Yes!
The official (meta) website for this campaign called “The Optimist” describes it:
Walter Elias Disney was an optimist who believed in creating a living blueprint for the future. He and his Imagineers – those creative and skilled professional wizards who combine imagination and engineering – made fantasy into reality and built the magic of the Disney Theme Parks. But, what if that was just the beginning?
Amelia, a young filmmaker, has stumbled upon a revolutionary secret…and she needs your help. Collaborate with other curious individuals around the globe to solve a mystery that traverses the web, Disneyland® Park, and beyond before culminating at the D23 Expo.
The D23 Expo takes place in Anaheim, California August 9-11, 2013, which makes this a 6 week experience. The film isn’t slated for release for over a year. So, what will await the community at the end of this journey?
Back in October last year, Vulture.com also intimated:
We hear that the collaborators are planning an elaborate, very J.J. Abrams–like advanced marketing campaign that will start before filming even begins. The idea is to stage a treasure hunt for intrigued moviegoers that will gradually reveal clues about and build intrigue for the film right up until its release, and which may or may not be related to the contents of the box.
It’s wonderful how much curious fans have already researched and discovered about the real history of Disney! There are some fascinating little-known facts being uncovered. Be sure to follow along with the community:
- follow @storyorbit, and comment with others helping Amelia at storyorbit.com
- sign up with your Disney account (link is in the footer of in-game websites linked above)
- find some forums to collaborate, such as Unfiction, or Micechat
- Bookmark this fan-made resource and watch for updates (and help keep it updated!)
And here a few related reports of interest from other sources:
- Insidethemagic.net: Disney launches ‘The Optimist’ alternate reality game spanning social media, Disneyland, ending at the 2013 D23 Expo
- Turnstylenews.com: Disney launches alternate reality game about founder
- Thedisneyblog.com: Imagineering launches alternate reality game leading to D23 Expo
- StitchKingdom.com: ‘The Optimist’ Alternate Reality Game Announced Ahead of Expo
- Disney.go.com: Explore Walt Disney’s Vision of Tomorrow: Join ‘The Optimist’