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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tony Baxter to Become Part-Time at WDI

A lot of people seem to be getting a little dramatic about Tony Baxter's sudden change in his work schedule.

Going from full time to part time hardly means that someone "resigns." Look, the man isn't 30 anymore (he actually started working for Disney at 17, scooping ice cream at Disneyland)...he's worked hard for a long time and he deserves to take things a bit easier, step back and enjoy the world a little bit more instead of keeping his nose to the grindstone every week.

If you haven't heard, Tony Baxter is switching from Senior Vice President, Creative Development to becoming a part time advisor for WDI after working for Disney for several decades. If you don't know who he is, he's the guy that has been the mastermind behind mega Disney attraction classics such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. He's an Imagineering rock star, and still a nice guy.

"Why is he doing this?" you may ask. Well, if I was 66, I'd like to have a little more free time for myself. Yes, he's a brilliant guy, but he's also just like any other human being and people generally like to retire around his age. I really don't see there being any huge conspiracy in this. He's already left a strong legacy but he's not abandoning Walt Disney Imagineering. I think his intentions to stay in touch are pretty clear. Here's a snippet from his letter...if you would like to read it in its entirety, go here.

"And now it comes down to the point at hand. I am not suggesting that I could be a mentor to you all, but that said, you should all have someone you can turn to in this manner. I do hope to be available to help support your ideas, give advice or even join a team whenever appropriate. My role will be one of supporting your visions in the best way I can, and encouraging you to maintain and build upon this already special place. I will have availability, and if you would like my assistance in any way, please e-mail Bruce Vaughn’s office to request my time.
This is not a goodbye, but hopefully a letter of introduction to the many of you that I have not yet had the chance to meet personally."
Don't fret. Tony will still make himself available to the Imagineers that need him. Disney has a long tradition of animators and Imagineers calling up the retired pros for their help and guidance. Tony isn't even retiring - if anything, this will probably strengthen the current talent at Imagineering.

Happy belated birthday Tony! May your wisdom guide the newer talent at Imagineering to continue to do great things.

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