Tony Baxter, who began his Disney career as a Disneyland host serving ice cream and went on to help define the modern Disney theme park as an Imagineer, has been honoured with a window on Main Street, U.S.A. In a ceremony hosted by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, Walt Disney Imagineering Chief Creative Executive Bruce Vaughn and Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier, family members, friends and Disney Legends recognized Tony for his significant contributions.
“Receiving a window on Main Street is an honor reserved for those who have made an indelible mark on Walt Disney Parks and Resorts,” said Staggs. “It’s a subtle, yet significant in-park tribute to the people who have lent their talents, passion and creativity to making our parks and resorts a place where dreams become reality. Tony has taken us on some incredible journeys over the years and has amassed a remarkable legacy – one now marked with a tangible recognition of all his efforts.”
Tony’s window, located above the Main Street Magic Shop, states: Main Street Marvels, Tony Baxter, Inventor, “Imagination is in the Heart of our Creations.” The last line is a creative nod to “One Little Spark,” the memorable song written by Disney Legends Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman for the Journey Into Imagination Pavilion at Epcot – a project spearheaded by Tony for the park’s original line up of attractions in 1982.
Tony was born in 1947 and grew up in Orange County, Calif. It was the perfect time and place for this future Imagineer—he not only witnessed the birth of the theme park industry, but he also grew up alongside his beloved Disneyland.
Tony started at Disneyland in 1965 at Carnation Plaza Gardens. He moved to other roles in attractions during the five years he worked at the park. One day, while trying to get a peek at Pirates of the Caribbean, a chance encounter with Imagineer and Disney Legend Claude Coats led to a personal tour of the unfinished attraction. Unbeknownst to both of them, Coats would one day be a mentor to Tony when he joined the ranks as an Imagineer.
In 1970, Tony became an Imagineer and was a field art director for the opening of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World. Over the years, Tony has not only played a key role in the development of many beloved attractions at the Disneyland Resort, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (1979), New Fantasyland (1983), Star Tours (1987), Splash Mountain (1989), and Indiana Jones Adventure (1995), he has shared his creative influence at other Disney Parks and Resorts across the globe. In addition to being involved in the opening of Walt Disney World Resort in 1971, he also served as senior vice president responsible for the concept development, design and creation of Disneyland Paris for its opening in 1992.
More recently Tony was involved in the development of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (2007), the re-opening of an enhanced Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (2008), an upgraded restoration of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (2009), and Fantasy Faire (2013).
On February 1, 2013, Tony announced that he would step down from his Imagineering role as Senior Vice President of Creative Development. He remains a creative advisor and mentor of a new generation of Imagineers and continues to work on new ideas and attractions combining time-tested design practices with modern technology.