Senior Vice President
Creative Development, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI)
Tony Baxter is an example of how a talented, young Disney employee can rise from the ranks to join the company's creative team and grow with his ideas.
In 1989, Baxter was appointed senior vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering, responsible for the creative aspects of Disneyland Paris, Disneyland and projects under consideration for development in California, including WESTCOT Center. He previously served as executive producer for Disneyland Paris, directing the artists and designers who created Disney's newest theme park 20 miles east of Paris, France.
Baxter also served as executive director for Disneyland design, leading the concept effort for New Fantasyland, "Star Tours" (Disney's joint creative venture with the George Lucas organization), Splash Mountain and, most recently, Indiana Jones(tm) Adventure.
Baxter's history with Disneyland began in 1965. During a five-year span there, his experiences included stints as a sweeper, ice cream scooper and ride operator.
During his days at Disneyland, Baxter harbored dreams of designing attractions, but he refused to let himself think it was possible; he pursued his degree in theater design at California State University, Long Beach with the "more realistic" aspiration of teaching.
But an intricate "marble maze" contraption he designed for his personal enjoyment was seen by a top Disney executive, who offered him encouragement.
Through the years, this device matured until, upon graduation from college, he was able to offer not only a portfolio, but an impressive, precisely-engineered, five-minute-long "marble maze." This package was presented to the people at Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative development, design and engineering subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. Baxter was hired and went to work as model designer in 1970.
In 1971, Baxter was assigned to the on-site team working on the opening of Walt Disney World.In 1973, he came up with the concept for "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad," which opened at Disneyland in 1979, at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in 1980, and at Tokyo Disneyland in 1987.For EPCOT, Baxter was the show producer for Journey Into Imagination, one of the five original major pavilions in Future World.
Baxter is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, where he received a bachelor's degree in theater design in 1969. In 1988, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award in fine arts. He was born in Los Angeles and resides in Anaheim.
WDI/pa January 95
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