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SmarterPlanet presented by IBM opens at Innoventions West in Epcot

Today, the SmarterPlanet exhibit, which is sponsored by IBM, opened at Innoventions West in Epcot. The Grand Opening event was attended by both IBM executives as well as senior Walt Disney World Cast Members.


The Grand Opening ceremony got underway with Vanessa Rosas, Walt Disney World Ambassador, welcoming everyone to the exhibit and then introducing Dan Cockerell, Vice President of Epcot. Dan spoke of the importance of the Disney / IBM relationship and of outstanding cooperation and teamwork between the two companies to design and build this exhibit.

Vanessa Rosas, Walt Disney World Ambassador:

Vanessa Rosad

Dan Cockerell, Vice President of Epcot

Dan Cockerell

Dan then introduced Gary Cohen, General Manager of Global Communications Sector, IBM Corporation. Gary explained the goal of the exhibit "is to offer park guest a behind the scenes glimpse of how technology is helping solve the world's most complex problems - from reducing road traffic and city crime to improving food safety and local water supplies." This is done by encouraging guests to think about their role in creating a smarter planet.

Gary Cohen, General Manager of Global Communications Sector, IBM Corporation

Gary Cohen

Gary Cohen

Vanessa and Dan present Gary Cohen a beautiful crystal Mickey in honor of the opening of the exhibit and of their long term relationship.

Crystal Mickey Presentation

After Gary spoke none other than Mickey Mouse joined Dan Cockerell and Gary Cohen on stage to cut the ribbon. Vanessa Rosas, the Walt Disney World Ambassador, lead the countdown to the ribbon cutting.

Mickey joins Dan and Gary

Mickey poses with Dan and Gary

Cutting the ribbon

Cutting the ribbon

After the ceremony I was fortunate enough to interview Gary Cohen and David Padmos of IBM. Dave is the Managing Director, Communications Sector, IBM and is the person responsible for the Walt Disney World account. I asked the both of them "why Disney and Walt Disney World"? Gary responded by saying that IBM's hope is that because of the number of guests who visit Walt Disney World annually that IBM believes it's a great place to reach both adults and children with such an important message. The goal is to help guest understand the role technology plays in helping to solve some of the greatest problems facing our society." Gary also pointed out that this exhibit compliments IBM's nationwide Smarter Plant TV and print ad campaign.

Dave's response was "why not Disney?". He went on to explain how they hope the exhibit will encourage children to excel in math and science; and Innoventions in Epcot is the perfect place to do that."

In addition I had the opportunity to speak with Brent Strong a Disney Imagineer who worked on developing the Runtime section of the SmaterPlanet exhibit. Brent said that "working with IBM they wanted to develop a fun and engaging experience that also taught about many of IBM's innovations. It was important to be able to display the full range of IBM technology in such a way that was educational, fun and entertaining."

Here's a picture of Brent Strong, Disney Imagineer:

Brent Strong

OK, so let me give you some of the details of the SmarterPlanet exhibit. The exhibit consists of three separate areas: SmartPlanet Kiosks, Smarter Data Center and Runtime. The runtime area has been open for a year or so and hasn't been changed.

The SmarterPlanet Kiosks allow guest to do two different things. The can vote on smarter planet issues and they can match solutions to our planets greatest concerns. The goal here is to help guest understand how IBM technologies are integrated into everyday life.

SmarterPlanet Kiosks

SmarterPlanet Kiosks

SmarterPlanet Kiosks

SmarterPlanet Kiosks

SmarterPlanet Kiosks

The SmarterData Center allows guest to look into a fully functioning data center. This data center is responsible for running the SmarterPlanet exhibit. This is not an interactive exhibit.

SmarterData Center

The third element is Runtime. Here guests star in their own video game. There are six captures stations where you run, jump, etc. Then an avatar of you is created and you then move through the game competing against the clock. As you play the game you travel through a timeline of IBM's achievementa in the history of computing. You can even email your avatar to yourself so you can play the game at home.




One last look at the SmaterPlanet wall.

SmarterPlanet wall

I would encourage both adults and children to come in and explore this exhibit. I believe that the interactive exhibit will engage children and will help everyone become more aware of the efforts to find solutions to our most pressing problems.

Finally, be one of the first people to hear when my newest blogs go live on AllEars.net by joining "DisneyMike's World" Facebook group.

Well, that's all for now. As my good friend says "see ya real soon"...DizneyMike

The previous post in this blog was Cantina de San Angel Refurbishment Underway.

The next post in this blog is Walking through the Outpost on our way to Italy.

Comments (6)


Hi Mike,

I agree that both children and adults should explore this. The future of our planet depends upon it. I was at Epcot on the 26th & 27th and so I missed the opening event by just 2 days !!!
I'll be back in about 10 days or so and I'll check out the exhibit then. Thanks for the info and thorough coverage. Great job!
Take care, Johnny.

DizneyMike replies: Johnny, Thanks for the comment. Enjoy your trip back to Disney....Mike

Big Red:

This is very interesting. I work for IBM and never even knew about the collaboration with WDW. I will have to get more information prior to my trip in 5 weeks. I can't wait.

DizneyMike replies: Scott, yes, IBM and Disney have collaborated for quite some time. I think you'll really like the exhibit....Mike

sue and jerry ziolkowski:

This will be one that we will visit in August. My husband works for Intel Corporation and like IBM they are always looking for a better way. I love in innoventions how they make learning so fun for the kids and adults as well. We did the piggy bank on our last trip and we loved it. It really gets you in check. Thanks for the wonderful information.

The Ziolkowski family

DizneyMike replies: Sue and Jerry, I really do think you will like this exhibit. It fits really well into the family of Innovention exhibits. Thanks for the comment...Mike

Cathy Delaney:

IBM rocks! I know. I've worked for them for 40 years. Smarter Planet is an eye opening concept and I really encourage everyone to visit the exhibit!

DizneyMike replies....Well said....Mike

Paula McDonald:

One of the things I appreciate most about trips to Disney parks is when I see something that's inspiring or teaches me something new. I LOVE WORD CLOUDS!!!!!

DizneyMike replies: Paula, there's lots to learn here and in the other Innoventions exhibits. I hope you get to enjoy them soon...Mike

Michael Vesich:

I too am a 10+ year IBM'er and I must say that being a huge Disney fan and the Dad of a very curious 4 year old, I am always sensitive to the quality of exhibits presented at EPCOT and WDW in general. Knowing the relationship we (IBM) have with Disney is exciting, but when I learned on my last visit that IBM was going with the SmarterPlanet message, I was really proud to be an IBM'er and a Disney fan.

Thr SmarterPlanet message must be at the top of our mindset as a society, for the technology we develop cannot simply be for gaming, text messaging, toting music, and "zapping" our lunch. As we globally begin to understand our impact on the planet, turn over our leaf to green energies, and explore from the very small DNA to the very massive oceans, we need to understand how we can bring it all together intelligently to better our world and our society. Kudos to all driving this project!

DizneyMike replies: Michael, I agree, it's a powerful message and hopefully delivering it at WDW will help spread it....Mike

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 29, 2010 2:48 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Cantina de San Angel Refurbishment Underway.

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