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Tony Baxter

Tony Baxter

American artist
Tony Baxter
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American artist
Is Designer Artist
From United States of America
Type Arts Creativity
Gender male
Birth 1 February 1947, Los Angeles, USA
Age 74 years
Star sign Aquarius
Residence Anaheim, USA
California State University, Long Beach
Disney Legends 2013
The details (from wikipedia)


Tony Wayne Baxter (born February 1, 1947) is the former senior vice president of creative development in Walt Disney Imagineering and was responsible for creating designs and carrying out the construction of attractions all over the world. He announced his departure from his full-time position to become a part-time adviser on February 1, 2013, which was also his 66th birthday. During his 47-year tenure with the company, he oversaw the construction of multiple contemporary Disney theme park attractions, including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Star Tours, Splash Mountain, The Indiana Jones Adventure, and Journey Into Imagination.

Baxter was first hired at Disneyland Park in 1965 as an ice cream scooper on Main Street, U.S.A. at the age of 17. During his employment at the park, he held many different positions. He later caught the attention of WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering). During his first 24 years he built up his rank within the company until he was given the position as senior vice president of creative development in Walt Disney Imagineering. His projects include Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, and remodeling Fantasyland and Tomorrowland in Disneyland.


Tony Baxter was interested in Disneyland since the day it opened, when he was 8 years old. He first toured Imagineering before being hired at the parks. This was around the same time Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln came to Disneyland Park. Baxter watched the show and was instantly captivated with Disney engineering. He applied for a position at the parks selling popcorn and scooping ice cream, and moved on to attractions to gain Disney experience. At the time, Baxter was going to school at Cal Poly Pomona. For his senior project, he created a design for a Mary Poppins ride which was then shown to WED Enterprises through a connected friend. Impressed by Baxter's work, WED Enterprises invited him to a second tour of the company where they showed him the aspects of the position as well as concepts they were currently working on. Baxter left the tour that day with a new career in mind and as a result, switched his career path and transferred schools.


After graduating from Santa Ana High School in 1965, he attended Cal Poly Pomona as a landscape architecture major, but soon after transferred to California State University in Long Beach to study Theater Design. During this time, Baxter created a portfolio which included concepts of attractions for Disneyland as part of his senior project, which he had spent his entire last year of college constructing. Baxter graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 1969.

WED Enterprises/Walt Disney Imagineering

A partial list of the attractions Baxter has been responsible for:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened in Disneyland park September 2, 1979, and was recreated a year later in Walt Disney World. It was designed by both Tony Baxter and his mentor Claude Coats and was the first ride built in Disneyland without any input from Walt Disney. The land that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was built upon had previously been Walt's original ride, Nature's Wonderland, which had lost popularity among guests. Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris got their versions in 1987 and 1992.


The remodeled Fantasyland opened in 1983 with the oversight of Baxter. It included the redesign of all the buildings to change from Renaissance to a Bavarian village. It also featured the addition of a walk-through located inside Sleeping Beauty's Castle that included dioramas of scenes from the animated film. Under Baxter's supervision, the new Fantasyland featured rich details and was the most technically advanced land in the park for the era.

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain debuted in 1989. The idea for Splash Mountain came to Baxter while he was stuck in traffic on his way to work. Around the same time, America Sings, another attraction at Disneyland, was slated to be taken out due to the poor attendance. Baxter incorporated the Audio-Animatronics figures from America Sings with his idea for Splash Mountain (which was originally going to be titled Zip-a-Dee River Run). Baxter had remembered from a previous Walt Disney film: the Song of the South, had contained a song titled "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," which he synced with the animatronics transferred from America Sings. He then pieced together the sound, mechanics, and log flume track creating what is now Splash Mountain.

Indiana Jones Adventure

Indiana Jones Adventure was revealed on March 4, 1995, and was worked on by over 400 Imagineers. Baxter was one of the main supervisors of the project and led his own team of 100. They were responsible for designing the half-mile-long track that was built over the previous Eeyore parking lot as well as the different concepts for each room in the ride.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage was opened on June 11, 2007. The track for Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage had previously existed as the new ride simply replaced its predecessor, the Submarine Voyage. Baxter and his team were in charge of collaborating with Pixar to create the story-line and animation for the ride. Difficulty came however when Baxter was faced with the challenge of syncing the sound with the ride. Due to the fact that there were 20 windows on each side of the submarine, all featuring different aspects of the ride at the same time, the sound had to keep in time with what was being portrayed, no matter where a guest would sit within the underwater vessel.

List of Projects Worked On

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Opened in 1979)
  • The original Journey Into Imagination Pavilion (Opened in 1982)
  • Re-design of Disneyland's Fantasyland (Opened in 1983)
  • The Disney Gallery (Opened in 1987)
  • Star Tours (Opened in 1987)
  • Splash Mountain (Opened in 1989)
  • Disneyland Paris (Opened in 1992)
  • Indiana Jones Adventure (Opened in 1995)
  • Re-design of Disneyland's Tomorrowland (Opened in 1998)
  • Sunstone Winery {Designer/Lead Architect}(Completed 2004)
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland (Opened in 2007)
  • Re-design of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (Opened in 2008)
  • Re-opening of Captain EO (Opened in 2010)
  • Star Tours—The Adventures Continue (Opened in 2011)
  • The "E" Ticket

Awards & Honors

Baxter has been awarded the Themed Entertainment Association's THEA award for lifetime achievement. In 2004, Baxter was the recipient of the DFC Disney Legend award from the Disneyana Fan Club. In August 2013, in a ceremony at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA, Baxter was inducted as a Disney Legend. A few months later, in November of 2013, Baxter received the honor of having his name appear on Main Street, U.S.A. windows at Disneyland. The window, which can be found above the Main Street Magic Shop reads:Main Street Marvels – Tony Baxter, Inventor, Imagination is at the heart of our Creations

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 03 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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