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Cerritos Student Amanda Liu Savors Walt Disney Imagineering Finals

Amanda Liu, from Cerritos, is joined by her fellow team mates from Cal Arts during the final competition of the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations finals held reAmanda Liu, from Cerritos, is joined by her fellow team mates from Cal Arts during the final competition of the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations finals held recently in Glendale.  Photo Provided By Walt Disney Imagineeringcently in Glendale.  Photo Provided By Walt Disney Imagineering

Amanda Liu, from Cerritos, is joined by her fellow team mates from Cal Arts during the final competition of the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations finals held reAmanda Liu, from Cerritos, is joined by her fellow team mates from Cal Arts during the final competition of the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations finals held recently in Glendale. Photo Provided By Walt Disney Imagineeringcently in Glendale. Photo Provided By Walt Disney Imagineering

By Brian Hews

Amanda Liu, a 22 year old Cerritos resident and college coed at the prestigious Cal Arts in Pomona has one of the most vivid and imaginative minds for someone her age.

Liu and a handful of her college classmates decided that they would put their creative prowess to work by entering and winning one of the top awards in the annual Walt Disney “Imagineering Imaginations” design competition held over a one week period in January.

The competition was created by the legendary film, television and entertainment amusement park giant company to promote diversity and enable participants to showcase their talents and gain practical knowledge in design.

Liu and three of her classmates jumped at the opportunity to enter the elite competition several months ago.  “You don’t pass up on a chance like this when you are in college and looking for a future in the creative arts field,” Liu, a former student of Gretchen Whitney High School in Cerritos and someone who still lives in the community.

For this year’s competition, Liu and other students from American universities and colleges were given a unique challenge to create an urban environment around the world where millions of people live, work and play every day by selecting a large and densely populated urban area and design an experience that temporarily or permanently transforms the city for the enjoyment of its citizens and visitors.

Liu and her teammates Kirk Pierron, Lorie Wheeler and Sarah Craig, all students from the California Institute of Arts (Cal Arts) put their heads together and came up with a virtual futuristic taxi cab they dubbed the “Time Embassy.”

“We took the idea that visitors who would ride in one particular taxi cab in Rome would that the guests on a journey back in time to explore the mystery and wonderment of time travel,” Liu told Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper in an extensive interview.

Liu and her team created a visual depiction of the streets of Rome during the height of the Italian Renaissance, including taking visitors over the Coliseum to get the best seats in the house, all while sitting in the luxury, timetraveling taxi.

Liu is the daughter of longtime Cerritos residents Elbert and Anna Liu and said that her upbringing in Cerritos has prepared her well in the world of “virtual Imagineering.”  For her teams efforts, they were rewarded a $2,000 cash prize from Disney as well as a trophy.

A position at Walt Disney Imagineering is often found on surveys of “dream occupations,” and the company uses the Imaginations competition to reach students like Liu and other as a way to reach out to the widest possible job talent pool for its future workforce.

“I didn’t fit into the engineering university world, so going to Cal Arts has been a real positive force in achieving my education goals,” Liu said.

Frank Reifsnyder, Communications Manager with Disney Imagineering said that the annual competition is “wildly popular and keeps growing each and every year.”

Reifsnyder said that this year’s finalists also visited Disneyland during their weeklong competition and got a “real behind the scenes look into how the magic is really created” at the Magic Kingdom

Liu said, that everything is “connected” at Disney and Disneyland and everything that is accomplished is “mapped out with precise detail.”

Liu also said that she will be given an opportunity to interview with Walt Disney Imagineering for a possible future internship. 

“I don’t know what lies ahead for my future, but I do know that this experience was beyond my expectations and it was a real honor to be part of the Disney magic for one week,” Liu concluded.

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