We’ve all heard stories of talented designers at Walt Disney Imagineering that created iconic attractions. Figures like Joe Rohde, Tony Baxter, and countless others receive well-deserved attention for those feats. There’s another group that also played an essential role in building Walt Disney World and other parks. These individuals developed the systems that made the rides and shows possible. Without the technical support and reliability of those programs, the attractions would not function. A perfect example is David Snyder, who created the Digital Animation Control System (DACS) to operate the key components of The Magic Kingdom and a lot more.
Snyder is my guest on this episode of The Tomorrow Society Podcast to talk about his background with early computer programming and his work at Disney. He began his career by rising through the ranks in the aerospace industry before joining Disney in 1968. During his 20 years at Disney, Snyder created systems that still operate the parks today. DACS was critical to making Walt Disney World succeed, and it took considerable effort from Snyder to get the leaders on board.
Snyder developed a revolutionary system for shooting movie effects with the Automated Camera Effects System (ACES) on The Black Hole film. The use of a computer to move the camera was new to the industry. Snyder also worked on the original Communicore pavilions and discusses the specifics of those early EPCOT Center exhibits. During this episode, Snyder speaks candidly about the challenges he faced at a time when computers were considered a threat. It’s an honest look back to a time of change when the old guard wasn’t so willing to adapt. It was thrilling to talk with Snyder and learn so much about his background and impact on Disney history.