Engineering magic: Keeping the rides running

What's it like to work at the happiest place on earth? For Mike Morrison (MechEngr '96), it has sometimes been dark, wet and claustrophobic, but always magical.

Since 2004, Morrison has worked at Disneyland where he ensures the rides and attractions are safe while providing the exhilarating experience expected by the 50,000 daily visitors to the amusement park in Anaheim, California.

Little did Morrison know when he was studying to be a mechanical engineer that he would get to work in the exciting -- and rarely seen -- underbelly of the amusement park.

"I wanted to be a part of putting on the magic using my engineering knowledge and my lighting and sound production skills. I always felt like I belonged here."

In 2007, when Disney was designing World of Color, a nighttime extravaganza of water fountains, lights and laser projections, Morrison volunteered to lead a special team of engineers and electricians to work on the struc­ture - rather, underneath it and underwater. World of Color was mounted on a platform the size of a football field that was submerged in a lagoon during the day, to rise into the air after dark. Morrison and his team had to learn how to scuba dive in order to work on the structure's electrical and mechanical components.

Working below the huge structure in 15 feet of water with extremely poor visibility is equivalent to diving inside a shipwreck. So not only did he have to learn to scuba dive, Morrison also had to earn special diving certifica­tions. The dive team actually practiced diving into shipwrecks off the California coast to prepare for working on World of Color.

"Aside from skydiving," says Morrison, "it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had."

Morrison has the principal role in long­-range maintenance and sustainment proposals for the attractions and infrastructure. He recently compiled a list of 200 job proposals for multimillion dollar capital expense funding for FY2015.

"Disneyland is coming up on its 60th anniversary in 2015," he says. "Safety of course is our number one concern, but we also ensure that everything is refreshed and refurbished and rehabilitated when it needs to be."

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