Excerpt of an interview with Gary Goddard
Imagine visiting the universe of Star Trek, or becoming James Bond. You
can now experience all of these adventures and more thanks to Landmark Entertainment Group, a company that has created cutting edge attractions for Universal Studios, the Paramount Parks, and other theme parks worldwide. At the
head of this amazing company is Gary Goddard, who recently agreed to share his thoughts on
themed attractions with me in an email interview.
Theme Parks Guide: How did you happen to get into this line of work, Gary?
Gary Goddard: Well, I have always had an interest in theme park attractions, ever
since visiting Disneyland for the first time when I was about five or six years old. In
junior high and high school, I would design my own ideas for new theme park attractions -
I always wanted to do a Knights of the Round Table
attraction - I used to draw up plans and create scenes. And when I went to work at
Imagineering many years later, I tried to sell them on doing a SWORD IN THE STONE SQUARE. They never did the project, but
they did ultimately use one of my ideas - in Fantasyland -- for a Sword in the Stone where
kids try to pull the sword out.
Anyway, throughout my school years, I was acting in every show I could get in, directing
whenever I got the chance, and writing my own musicals
too. I was always interested in so many things - movies, theatre, animation, theme parks.
I was always in a play, or making a little movie, or working on someone else's show. When
I went to Cal-Arts, I majored in film and theatre, but also attended animation classes.
And after graduation, I was hired by Disney and flown to Orlando where I co-created and
directed THE PIONEER HALL SHOW, a musical dinner-theatre
experience that is still running today. That brought me to the attention of IMAGINEERING
and they brought me back to California to work on EPCOT, The World Showcase, and on
concepts for Disneyworld.
I left Imagineering in 1977 to write and direct my own movies, but after forming Gary
Goddard Productions (which ultimately became Landmark Entertainment Group), we were called
on to create some cool theme park attractions. Around 1981 or so we developed THE CONAN
SWORD & SORCERY SPECTACULAR for Universal Studios, and it became an instant hit and a
classic attraction. Those who saw it always speak highly of it. And for Six Flags Atlanta we created THE MONSTER PLANTATION dark
ride. These two attractions plunged us into theme
parks - and my past close association with many of the key designers at Imagineering
(veterans like Marc Davis, Herb Ryman, Claude Coates, Bill Justice, X. Atentio, John Hench) served us well in those key first years of the company. Which is a long way
around of saying I moved from film and theatre to creating attraction concepts via my time
with Disney, and then built the company around this vision I had for the future of themed