Eddie Sotto

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Edward Anthony "Eddie" Sotto III (born 1958) is an American experiential designer, mixed-media producer, and conceptualist.[1] In 2002 he was named one of the thousand most creative people in America in the book 1000: Richard Saul Wurman's Who's Really Who by TED founder Richard Saul Wurman.[2] He was formerly the Senior Vice President of Concept Design for Walt Disney Imagineering, and is currently president of the Los Angeles design firm SottoStudios Incorporated.[3]

Background and Early Career[edit]

Sotto was born in Hollywood, California. His aunt, Marilyn Sotto, is a costume illustrator and designer who worked for Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Walt Disney Productions, and his grandfather Edward Sotto was a scenic artist at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and a portrait artist.

Sotto grew up fascinated by Disneyland and as a teenager built a 1/200 scale model of the park based on plans obtained from WED Enterprises.[4] At 19, he acted upon a suggestion to pursue his interests in modelmaking and storyboarding, and was hired as an Assistant Project Director at Knott's Berry Farm. There, he designed the Soapbox Racer attraction and contributed to elements of Camp Snoopy.

In 1983, Sotto became a Show Designer for Hollywood-based Landmark Entertainment Group. During his tenure, he designed and developed themed attractions for Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags as well as designs for Mattel.[4]

Walt Disney Imagineering[edit]

Sotto's work on the "Laboratory of Scientific Wonders" for a Six Flags project in Baltimore, Maryland, caught the attention of Tony Baxter, Vice President of Design at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), who hired Sotto as Show Producer/Designer for Main Street, U.S.A. at Euro Disneyland. Sotto's Disney mentors included veteran Imagineers Herbert Ryman, and John Hench.[5]

Sotto spent thirteen years with WDI, eventually being named Senior Vice President of Concept Design in 1994. He was involved in early development of the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction for Disneyland, and directed the master planning of Tokyo Disneyland for three years.[6] His proposal to include a hotel at the entrance of Euro Disneyland led to the first instance of guest accommodations being incorporated into a Disney theme park.[4]

As head of the Concept Development Studio "think tank", Sotto applied principles of Imagineering outside the theme park setting. This culminated in such projects as the "Media as Architecture" facade of ABC's Times Square Studios in New York City and the design of the futuristic Encounter Restaurant in Los Angeles International Airport's Theme Building.[6]

Other projects included the Mission: SPACE attraction at Epcot and the $90m Pooh's Hunny Hunt ride at Tokyo Disneyland.[6]

After Disney[edit]

Sotto left Disney in 1999 to become Executive Vice President of Creative Affairs for the Digital Entertainment Network. Established to create "original youth culture programming and e-commerce opportunities ... for Generation Y consumers",[7] DEN clients included Ford,[8] Dell, Blockbuster, and Pepsi.

In 2000, Sotto became Chief Creative Officer of Progress City. Seeking to explore the convergence of the Internet, architecture, and wireless devices, Progress City was founded to develop leading edge technology solutions for clients such as BBDO, Kodak,[9] Motorola, Dentsu, San Diego Padres, NASA, and The Walt Disney Company.[6]

SottoStudios Inc.[edit]

Founded in 2004, SottoStudios' mandate is stated as "seeing the impossible as a beautiful puzzle, and then bringing in the right combination of people to crack the code".[3] The studio specializes in highly themed or exotic design projects, including select private residences, and uses the tools of theme park design to help develop products, brands and businesses.

SottoStudios has applied the theory of "experiential design" to the Las Vegas Penske-Wynn Ferrari-Maserati dealership, and a James Bond-inspired Aston Martin showroom for Los Angeles' Galpin Aston Martin dealership.[1] The studio also developed designs for a McLaren showroom. Through his company, Sotto developed television series for VH1 networks, ABC, Showtime and CNN, and created a news format utilizing the Google search engine for Current TV.[3] He continues to provide creative consulting and design development services to Walt Disney Imagineering.

Other projects have included building a film history-themed pop-up store for Turner Classic Movies[10] and partnering with chef John Sedlar to create Los Angeles' Rivera Restaurant.[11] For Rivera, Sotto named and created the identity, along with architectural and thematic design elements. He is a general partner in the Restaurant. SottoStudios is currently engaged in assisting scientist Danny Hillis in the design of his 10,000-year clock for the Long Now Foundation.[12]

Partial List of Projects at Walt Disney Imagineering[edit]

Projects in Sotto’s portfolio of design responsibility included:[13]


Walt Disney World[edit]

Tokyo Disneyland[edit]

Disneyland Paris[edit]

Concept Development Studio[edit]

Voice Over Work[edit]

  • Main Street Upstairs Windows (Disneyland Paris/Disneyland)
  • Space Mountain (Walt Disney World/Disneyland)
  • Market House Telephone (Disneyland/Walt Disney World/Disneyland Paris)
  • Radio Toontown (Disneyland)
  • Shrunken Ned (Disneyland)
  • Aladdin’s Other Lamp (Disneyland)
  • Disneyland/Walt Disney World Railroad boarding call (Disneyland Paris/Walt Disney World)
  • Big Thunder Mountain (Disneyland Paris)


  • Star Tours concourse introductory video, original version (Disneyland)


External links[edit]