This weekend I was lucky enough to take a tour of F & D Scene Changes as part of Doors Open Calgary, an annual event that gives the public access to places around the city they normally would not be allowed to visit. What is F & D Scene Changes you ask? They are a company that creates “projects that range from scenery for theatre, television and film to theme park elements, museum exhibits, and trade show and retail displays.” They’re located right here in Calgary, behind the Stampede grounds in a gorgeous historical building and I had no idea they existed!
Imagine my excitement to find out in my very own backyard that they work on set pieces, parade floats and other amazing projects for Disney Parks, Universal, Cirque Du Soleil and more. Everything from design, lighting, welding, sculpting, prototyping, the list goes on. Talk about a hidden gem in Calgary.
During our visit, our tour guide was not allowed give us many details or even mention the name of some of their clients, including their Florida Client. We figured out pretty quickly that was Disney. We got some insider access and saw them working on projects for what I assume was Shanghai Disneyland Resort, as well as a new mall called Tsawwassen Mills (very similar concept as Vaughan Mills or CrossIron Mills .
Based on all the Shanghai Disneyland concept art I’ve seen, I could pick out a few things that were clearly headed overseas to the park. One was a smaller parade vehicle that had hidden Mickey heads printed all over it, another was the giant tree (we’re talking 40-50 feet high) that I assume will be the centrepiece for the Tarzan Show.
They were even working on some concepts for a project based on a very popular “cold & icy” movie…..I’ll let you figure out which one.
It was really interesting learning about how they take the idea and have to figure out a way to engineer it so it looks good, is safe and can survive in any situation possible. They consult with engineers on many projects to ensure people are safe when climb, ride, carry, hold and interact in any way with their pieces. An example was that if a performer passes out in the middle of the show on a tree branch, will the weight of two additional people be okay to climb out to assist them. In addition, are there enough hand holds for three people to safely climb out and back.
Due to the nature of the projects they work on, we were not allowed to take photos of anything in the works. I did however take a bunch of pictures of completed projects they had laid out in their main office. They helped with the Little Mermaid rides at Disneyland & Walt Disney World, Transformers at Universal Studios, tons of other Tokyo & Hong Kong Disney projects, Broadway. Calgary Stampede…The list goest on. It was an awesome tour and highly recommended if you ever have the chance.
Here are some pictures of past projects they have worked on, very impressive!