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Cover of the spring 2003 SFSU magazine. Geography Professor Max Kirkeberg and students tour of San Francisco's Western Addition.

 

SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer 2003, Volume 3, Number 2.
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Alumni and FriendsDisney imaginer and SFSU alumnus Barry Braverman stands before a large ferris wheel at California Adventure, Disney's newest theme park.

 

Barry's Big Adventure

For a middle-aged guy with a big-shot corporate job and family responsibilities, Barry Braverman (teaching credential, '71) seems to spend an awful lot of time at California Adventure, Disney's newest theme park.

Not to worry. Braverman, senior vice president with Walt Disney Imagineering, led the design team for the 55-acre, $1.4 billion park and today is in charge of creative development and expansion at the complex, which opened in 2001.

California Adventure seeks to replicate a beautiful, sunny day in the Golden State, with visits to Los Angeles beaches and star-studded back lots, the Central Valley's agricultural cornucopia and Northern California's redwoods.

"It's trying to distill what is extraordinary about California and celebrate it," Braverman said during a phone interview from Disney Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, Calif.

An economics major at Pomona College, Braverman taught elementary school in Ukiah after leaving San Francisco State.
When he and his late wife, Paula, moved to Southern California in the late 1970s so that she could attend architecture school, Braverman signed on with Disney to work on curriculum-development materials.

Pleased with Braverman's enthusiasm and fresh approach, Disney gave him a job doing research in support of Florida's Epcot Center. By 1995, he was Epcot's lead designer and Disney CEO Michael Eisner's top pick as chief designer for what would become California Adventure, to be built atop Disneyland's old parking lot.

Braverman's favorite attraction at California Adventure is also the park's hottest ride. Soarin' Over California scoops riders into the air aboard ski lift-type chairs and suspends them over a curved Omnimax screen so that they have the sensation of hang gliding over the state's most awesome scenery.

"It's exciting and thrilling without being gut-wrenching," Braverman said.

-- Anne Burke

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