Teaching Disney about Paper by Dave Peakes
TAPPI staff received a request from Disney World, Orlando, Florida, to have a meeting at TAPPI offices to discuss TAPPI inquiry about an exhibit. Wayne Gross, Pat Dunwoody, and I met with a Disney representative. He began that Disney had investigated our industry and had concluded that the pulp and paper industry was "a smelly, dirty polluting industry" not suitable for association with Disney. Wayne asked me, as TAPPI Board Outreach Committee Chairman, to respond. I stated that the industry had a history of environmental issues that had been significantly addressed and the industry was working with USA EPA to implement further technologies. That was exactly why TAPPI desired to be able to reach
the public with Disney. There was some further discussion with the Disney person saying he would discuss the content of this meeting with Disney and would provide a response to TAPPI.
About a week later, Disney provided a proposed contract to create an exhibit at EPCOT 2000 Millennium event scheduled for late 1999. I joined TAPPI staff for several trips to EPCOT to see possible exhibit locations, identify resources that would be provided, and evaluate how an exhibit would be designed. We were told that exhibits could either be manned their own organization members or by Disney Cast Members. To understand how a sponsoring organization staffed an exhibit, we discussed the needs and constraints with AT&T and Monsanto who operated exhibits at EPCOT. Wayne Gross worked with Disney to finalize the contract with the exhibit manned by Cast Members with scripts provided by TAPPI.
After the TAPPI Board of Directors approved the contract, Disney assigned a four member "imagineers" team to work with us to learn the messages TAPPI wanted to present, to design an exhibit that would promote the messages, and create the scripts to deliver the messages. Before the first meeting with the team, we were advised these "creative types" usually dress very casually. The team entered the room dressed in pressed short sleeve shirts and jeans so as not to offend us. Our laughter and their smiles created the relaxed atmosphere that carried through the entire process.
Disney asked to see industry examples so a TAPPI staff person and I drove the "imagineers" to a major integrated pulp and paper mill, a forestry research laboratory, a tree farm, and a recycle newspaper manufacturer. While parked near the long log receiving yard at the integrated mill we watched the large crane grab a full tractor trailer load of tree length logs, swing around and deposit the logs neatly on the log pile. One or the "imagineers" said, "Wow couldn't we make a ride out of that!"
As the team presented possible exhibit designs, we discussed what artificial tree trunks looked most realistic, what products and by-products the industry should highlight, and what the Cast Members were to say in the exhibit. TAPPI had the responsibility to create the scripts and to confirm that all facts were correct and verifiable. I recall spending evenings at home reading draft scripts, noting words or phrases that should be verified, and adding possible additions to clarify or simplify the presentation. In addition to the completed scripts, we created a list of questions the visitors might ask and the answers Cast Members were to respond. A telephone fax line was installed behind the exhibit for a Cast Member to contact TAPPI to confirm the answer to a unique visitor question.
The evening the EPCOT 2000 Millennium event was dedicated the park was closed to the public with only the exhibit sponsors representatives and Cast Members present. We all had a fun time visiting other's exhibits and socializing with the Disney characters that roamed the park.
In 2000, I attended one of the TAPPI Division conferences that included a tour of EPCOT and our industry exhibit. At our exhibit, a Cast Member asked me,
"Do you know who the first paper makers were?"
"Wasps" I responded.
"How did you know that?" she asked.
"I helped write the script you are following" I explained.
The look on her face was priceless.
She asked me to meet the other Cast Members that were on duty.
That was a fun once in a life time evening.