Lanny Smoot, a Disney Research Fellow and a seasoned member of Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development, will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The official ceremony for the inductee and the other Class of 2024 inductees will take place on Thursday, May 9, in Washington, D.C.
Smoot is the first Disney Imagineer to achieve this prestigious award and the second person from The Walt Disney Company to be inducted apart from Walt Disney, who was posthumously honored in 2000 for the multiplane camera.
In a statement, Smoot expressed his excitement, saying, “I was honored and humbled at being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. With all of the inventing greats, however, I caught a true lump in my throat when I realized that I was only the second person at The Walt Disney Company being presented with this honor, and the first person was Walt Disney himself.”
With 106 patents to his name and counting, the 69-year-old has spent over three decades pushing the limits of technology to create breathtaking, one-of-a-kind experiences for Disney visitors worldwide.
He told CNN that he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for invention. “Being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame is a dream come true. For an inventor, this is the best thing you can do.”
“I love to create. I love to come up with inventions … just wanting to make good things that will amaze and enchant people,” he stated.
Smoot’s career has been marked by his work as a theatrical technology designer, inventor, electrical engineer, scientist, and researcher. According to Disney patent attorney Stuart Langley, Smoot has emerged as one of the most prolific Black inventors in American history based on patents issued. During his 25-year tenure at The Walt Disney Company, he developed 74 patents.
Executive vice president for selection and recognition with the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Rini Paiva, told CNN “Lanny Smoot is a tremendous inventor. He pursues his life with a great deal of curiosity, and I think that that curiosity, and drive and persistence is one of the things that makes him so successful.”
Among the brilliant minds’ creations are the interactive koi ponds at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, the new HoloTile floor—dubbed “the world’s first multi-person, omnidirectional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor” by Disney—and the extendable lightsaber utilized in Disney Live Entertainment.
Smoot also made improvements to some of the top Disneyland attractions, such as making the head of Madame Leota at the Haunted Mansion float inside her crystal ball, according to Cinemablend.