Walt Disney was a creative visionary, ahead of his time in many ways. During his time creating the parks, he developed the concept of a “weenie”, which became a critical concept for Imagineers and is still used to this day. So exactly what is a Disney “weenie”?
What Is A Disney “Weenie”?
When Walt was developing Disneyland, he would often arrive home late and while his housekeeper was preparing dinner, he’d grab a hot dog, or as he called it, a “weenie”, from the fridge as a snack. He’d always share it with his dog, Lady, and he realized that she’d follow him around whenever he was holding it because she knew that she was going to get a bite.
During the early development of Disneyland, Walt often wouldn’t arrive home until late in the evening. His housekeeper would be preparing dinner but hungry from a long day, he’d grab a hot dog, or as he called it, a “weenie”, from the fridge as a snack. He’d always share it with his dog Lady and over time, he realized that Lady would follow him whenever he was holding it because she knew that was going to get a bite.
Later on in Disneyland planning, he remembered his dog’s excitement at the sight of the “weenie” and how he could lead her wherever he wanted when he had one in hand. He translated this into the design of the park and coined the term “weenie” as a visual element that could be used to draw people into and around a space. A “weenie” is large enough to be seen from a distance and interesting enough to make you want to take a closer look and today, “weenies” are critical for storytelling and building a sequential, organized story.
“Weenies” In The Parks
The largest and most well-known “weenie” is of course the castles, but each park has a large one – Spaceship Earth in Epcot, the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios, and Mickey’s Fun Wheel in California Adventure. However, “weenies” are used well-beyond the park icons and are in fact prevalent throughout the parks – things such as the floating mountains in Pandora, the Millennium Falcon in Galaxy’s Edge, pretty much every pavilion in Epcot, and Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom all also act as “weenies”!