Who could have guessed in 1965 that Disneyland ice cream scooper Tony Baxter would one day have his own window on Main Street U.S.A. A window is an honor only bestowed upon the most notable and influential of Imagineers and Disneyland leaders. Tony received his window above the Magic Shop on Main Street to celebrate the years of magic he has shared with others.
Tony was hired by the Disney company at age 17 and went on to work as a ride operator on a number of attractions, including Adventures Through Inner Space. Tony was always curious about show at the park. He was there in the park while major attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion were being developed. In fact, Tony often tells stories of how he was always trying to sneak into the Mansion to check out the latest effects tests going on. After one glimpse at Leotta’s disembodied head, he was briskly ushered out by the Imagineers.
Soon enough he was noticed by the Imagineers at WED during an open house visit and the rest was history. (You can actually hear the whole story in his own words on our Season Pass Podcast HERE). Claude Coats took Tony under his wing and mentored him through the paces. What resulted was a brilliant career leading to cult status among the fans.
A small ceremony was held at Disneyland today (Friday, November 1st). After Disneyland President, Michael Colglazier, welcomed the crowd the ceremony began. Tony Baxter made a fitting entrance riding down Main Street in Walt’s original electric car.
Tom Staggs, head of parks and resorts, took to the podium to begin the presentation. Bruce Vaughn then went on to speak about Tony’s history with the company and his Imagineering ability.
Tony went on to develop some of the most memorable attractions in Disneyland historyh. His first big project, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, was the first ride to be built in the park without the input of Walt Disney. But, as the years have shown, Tony did right by Walt.
Soon after, he was given the Fantasyland redesign project that changed the center of the park from the less elaborate tournament-style into the quaint bavarian village that it is to this day. The longevity of this design was its success.
Tony’s later attractions play as a sort of greatest hits of Disneyland including Star Tours, Splash Mountain, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Incidentally, when asked which of his projects is his favorite, it’s always Indy.
When Tony got up to the platform he mentioned mentors, his friends and all those that led him to this place in time. But looking out over the audience, the love, the respect was simply overwhelming. To have been in Tony’s shoes at that moment, looking out over a sea of smiling faces, after 47 years of creating new worlds and adventures, we can only imagine how humbled and satisfied he must feel.
Included in the crowd were a number of Disney dignitaries and legends. All there, to wish Tony well.
Our heartfelt congratulations to Tony. Thank you for all of the magic and memories you have given us over the years. You have left a legacy of quality and entertainment that is going to be very hard for future generations of Imagineers to top.
Please join us in celebrating Tony Baxter’s amazing career. What memories and favorite Baxter attractions are special to you?