Black Inventor Lanny Smoot Becomes First Disney Imagineer To Be Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall Of Fame

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Disney research fellow and imagineer Lanny Smoot was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The esteemed honor spotlights his important contributions to the global brand’s most beloved attractions.

The Disney Parks Blog mentions that Smoot is the first Disney Imagineer to receive the prestigious honor and the second person at the Walt Disney Company inducted into the institution. The first was Walt Disney, honored posthumously in 2000 for inventing the multi-plane camera to produce modern animation.

Smoot has been with Disney Experiences for an impressive 45-year stint. During his tenure, he has held several positions such as a theatrical technology creator, inventor, electrical engineer, scientist and researcher. His journey led him to create over 100 patents, with 74 of them invented during his impactful 25-year career at the Walt Disney Company.

According to the Parks statement, Smoot has been instrumental in pioneering special effects and technical marvels at Disney theme parks globally. His contributions include Madame Leota’s ability to float in the Séance Room at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, the cutting-edge extendable lightsaber featured in Disney Live Entertainment and the Magic Playfloor interactive game experience on Disney’s Cruise Line.

This isn’t Smoot’s first honor. He has received with countless awards with the Walt Disney Company and Disney Experiences. His passion for innovation and technology began after earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Columbia University. He later worked for Bells Lab and Bells Communication Research, where he specialized in the early development of video-on-demand technology, video conferencing and specialized television systems.

Smoot was excited to be recognized by the Walt Disney Company alongside a few of his “childhood heroes.”

“As a life-long inventor, I am excited, delighted, and humbled to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame,” Smoot said in a statement. “To be included alongside my childhood hero, Thomas Edison, and my lifelong role model, Jim West — the inventor of the electret microphone, is both exciting and humbling. And as someone who’s had the privilege of working at The Walt Disney Company, it’s especially meaningful to know that Walt Disney himself is also an inductee.”

The National Inventors Hall of Fame was held on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at Walt Disney Imagineering’s campus in Glendale, California.

Congrats to the legendary Lanny Smoot!


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