Over the past nearly five decades, Disney fans of all generations have enjoyed the work of legendary Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter. From his first job at Disney scooping ice cream at Disneyland to playing a key creative role in the creation of such iconic Disney attractions as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Indiana Jones Adventure, Baxter has played a role in millions of guests’ vacations to Disney parks around the globe. After 47 years of working for the Walt Disney Company, however, Baxter announced this week that he will be retiring from his full-time position at Walt Disney Imagineering and transitioning to a part-time role as a mentor and consultant.
In his long tenure at Walt Disney Imagineering, which began in the 1970’s, Baxter was able to play a role in many of Disney’s major theme park developments over the years, including the opening of Walt Disney World and EPCOT Center, as well as the expansion of Disney theme parks to countries across the world. Baxter personally oversaw the creation of such attractions as the original Journey Into Imagination, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, and also led the creative development of Disneyland Paris. Until this week, Baxter held the position of Senior Vice President of Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering.
News of Baxter’s retirement initially came on January 31st, and was confirmed by Baxter in an letter sent to his colleagues at Walt Disney Imagineering the following day, in which he announced his immediate retirement from his full-time Imagineering position. From here on out, Baxter’s role at Imagineering will be that of a part-time consultant and mentor to current Imagineers. In his letter, Baxter wrote:
“Today, while there is a new set of “futures” to explore, the time has come for me to evolve my role at Walt Disney Imagineering. Beginning this February, I will be transitioning to a position as a part time advisor. While I will not be here on a regular basis, I will continue to be available to any and all of you as needs arise. Though my time will be limited, my passion for the magic WDI creates will be just as strong.
The full text of Baxter’s letter can be found here.
Baxter and Walt Disney Imagineering also released an official statement on his retirement from the company, in which he comments:
“It has been a wondrous 47 years spanning the opening of Walt Disney World to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Star Tours, from Epcot’s original Journey into Imagination to Disneyland Paris and Indiana Jones Adventure. The Imagineers I have known and shared these times with have provided invaluable experiences not to be found anywhere else on earth. The future of Imagineering and Disney Parks is incredibly bright.”
Walt Disney Imagineering Chief Creative Executive Bruce Vaughn also commented in a statement:
“Tony has been involved in some of the most iconic Disney attractions around the world, and was the creative lead for our second international park, Disneyland Paris. Like so many Imagineering greats before him, his creativity, passion and knowledge will have a remarkable impact on the next generations of WDI dreamers and doers. We thank Tony for his immeasurable contributions to the Disney legacy so far, and look forward to the next chapter of his Disney story.”
As Disney fans whose memories of the parks would be radically different without Tony Baxter’s tremendous achievements at Imagineering, we would like to thank Mr. Baxter for his decades of hard work, and we can’t wait to see what contributions he will make in his new role.