Thirteen of Edward Sotto's years in entertainment design were spent at Walt Disney Imagineering. Rising to the role of Senior Vice President of Concept Design, Sotto had a wide ranging portfolio of projects he presided over, such as Main Street USA at Disneyland Paris, driving the early creative development of the Indiana Jones Adventure, and directing the design of Tokyo Disneyland and it's master planning. Returning from Paris, he ran his own "think tank" within Imagineering called the Concept Development Studio, where they “pushed the envelope” by developing smart wireless toys, On-line worlds, mixed reality coasters, and Disney's breakthrough trackless ride, "Pooh's Hunny Hunt." Other projects the studio spawned include “Mission:Space” Attraction for EPCOT Center, the “media as architecture” facade of ABC's Times Square Studios, and the award winning “Encounter” Restaurant at the Los Angeles International Airport. A half billion dollars in executed magic.
Prior to Disney, Sotto began his career at 21, "cutting his teeth" on projects for Knott's Berry Farm, Landmark Entertainment Group, and Six Flags. Today, SottoStudios remains a Disney resource and also consults to NBC/Universal, Cedar Fair, Sea World, Paramount and others. Eddie carries the distinction of being quoted more than 400 times in the encyclopedic Bible of the industry, "Theme Park Design and the Art of Themed Entertainment."
Since it opened in 1992, Disneyland Paris has been Europe's Number 1 Tourist destination with over 14.8 million visitors annually. 89% of guests express a desire to return and 93% recommend the resort, adding 50 Billion Euros in added value to the French economy, while being the largest single site employer in France.
Parents are accustomed to going to museums with their children and feeling good about it. Main Street was the first thing you encounter at the park and had to set the right tone. More than quaint shops and stores, this Main Street became a "living museum" of Americana with permanent exhibits showcasing the Statue of Liberty and the Age of Invention. Eddie has always been fanatical about details and this project is no exception. His team was driven to prioritize "the story" over ornament. Detail cannot be for it's own sake.
Living the details.
The image gallery highlights the richness of Main Street, but also includes Sotto's own intricate sketches of those facades and their details. You can see how close the final product was to those early thumbnails and sketched elevations. Interior sketches, such as the office of the Camera Shop were generated by Eddie to ensure the right intent was achieved when buying the props. Sotto did a final placement of each object in the office himself, pretending to be the proprietor. When satisfied, he laid the rimmed spectacles and coffee cup down on the desk, locked the room and never returned.
This "method acting" approach and passion can be applied to your project in a way that makes it both relevant and authentic to it's audience. Great theming comes from a real place, from real research and is not merely copied or traced, but begins with a story and real emotion that informs those details.
Bringing fictional history to life is an art in of itself. The Camera Shop and it's proprietor were very real to Eddie and the guest cannot explain it, but they feel the presence as it was born of something real. Every time you doubt the fantasy, details keep you in it. Suspension of disbelief.