Disney Imagineer and Legend, Tony Baxter received the highest Disneyland honor this past weekend with the unveiling of his own window on Main Street USA. Baxter, who was named a Disney Legend this past August at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, began his career at Disneyland in 1965 working as a front-line Cast Member at Carnation Plaza Gardens. Within a mere five years, Baxter was working for Imagineering as a field art director on the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction at Walt Disney World.
Disneyland fans will recognize Tony Baxter’s work all throughout the park. Some of the most famous attractions and lands have been shaped in the most beautiful and iconic way, in part, by him. The current appearance of Fantasyland (which opened as “new” Fantasyland in 1983) with its quant village appearance; the towering peaks of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad which reflect Utah’s Brice Canyon; everyone’s favorite “Laughing Place”, Splash Mountain; the always thrilling Indiana Jones Adventure, are among some of the most famous.
Tony Baxter also helped to create the original Disney Gallery, which was once located in what was intended to become Walt Disney’s private apartment above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in New Orleans Square. Those two curving staircases which lead to the Disney Gallery entrance and the foot bridge thousands of people walk over on their way from Adventureland to New Orleans Square are also of his design.
Outside of Disneyland, Baxter also served as senior vice president for the concept development and design of Disneyland Paris. In Florida, Tony Baxter, along with Steve Kirk, spearheaded the development of beloved EPCOT Center attraction, Journey into Imagination. From that project came the Sherman Brothers song “One Little Spark” and Figment, one of the main characters from the attraction.
Also at Disneyland, Tony Baxter was deeply involved in the development of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, the redesign of the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue and brining the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show back to its original roots. Ironically his most recent, and possibly his last major project, saw the creation of Fantasy Faire over the former Carnation Plaza Gardens, the very spot Baxter began his career back in 1965.
Tony Baxter was surprised on stage at the 2013 D23 Expo in Anaheim by parks and resorts chairman Tom Staggs with the news that he too would be honored with a Main Street window. The announcement followed the Undiscovered Disneyland presentation.
Located above the Main Street Magic Shop, Tony Baxter’s Disneyland Main Street window reads, “Main Street Marvels, Tony Baxter, Inventor”. “Imagination is in the Heart of our Creations”, a reference to the beloved Journey into Imagination attraction at EPCOT Center. Many Disney legends attended the small ceremony which took place prior to park opening this past Friday, they included, Marty Sklar, Archivist Dave Smith, Richard Sherman and Bob Gurr.
At the ceremony, Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts said, “Receiving a window on Main Street is an honor reserved for those who have made an indelible mark on Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. 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 tangible recognition of all his efforts”.