We are excited to report that longtime Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development Imagineer and Disney Research Fellow Lanny Smoot just received his 100th career patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office – a first for anyone at The Walt Disney Company. His 100th patent (number 11,080,779 – “Systems and Methods of Presenting a Multi-Media Entertainment in a Venue”) was issued earlier today. This is a milestone not often achieved by many inventors and makes Lanny one of the most prolific Black inventors in American history, based on patents issued, according to Disney patent attorney Stuart Langley.
Lanny has spent 42 years as a theatrical technology creator, inventor, electrical engineer, scientist and researcher — with 22 of those years at The Walt Disney Company. He has invented and patented many forward-looking technologies that allow The Walt Disney Company and, ultimately, the theatrical community at large to create new magic, illusions and entertainment.
Seventy-four of Lanny’s patents were from his research and inventions at Disney. Some of his favorite creations are included in past projects like Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure and “Where’s the Fire?” at Innoventions, both formerly at EPCOT; current projects including many of the special effects guests love in the Haunted Mansion, the lightsabers used in Star Wars Launch Bay, the virtual and interactive koi ponds at the Crystal Lotus Restaurant at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, the Fortress Explorations interactive adventure at Tokyo DisneySea, and “Power City” at Project Tomorrow in the post-show area for Spaceship Earth; and upcoming projects like the new state-of-the-art lightsaber and the lightsaber training experience, both of which will be a part of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser multi-day experience coming in spring 2022 to Walt Disney World Resort. In addition, many of Lanny’s inventions haven’t yet found a home in Disney parks and resorts including patents for new ride systems and 3D displays where you don’t need to wear 3D glasses.
Additionally, he is the recipient of many awards and honors, including three Thea Awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland park, Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure at EPCOT, and the Ghost Post limited-time experience inspired by the Haunted Mansion). Additionally, he was recently named a 2020 TEA Master, also by the Themed Entertainment Association.
Lanny will also be featured as part of the upcoming exhibit “Breaking Barriers: Honoring Extraordinary Black Inventors” at the National Inventors Hall of Fame® Museum located in the United States Patent and Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The NIHF exhibit is being presented in partnership with the USPTO and the Black Inventors Hall of Fame.
Before Disney, Lanny worked at Bell Laboratories and then Bell Communications Research. While at Bell, Lanny earned patents for his work in the early development of video-on-demand technology, video conferencing, a television system for displaying multiple views of a remote location, and fiber optic receivers that can be used in harsh temperature environments.
I think it’s safe to say that Disney Parks would not be the same today without the amazing inventions from Lanny Smoot. Congratulations, Lanny, on this remarkable achievement. I can’t wait to see what you dream up next!