Disney Legend Tony Baxter receives his Window on Main Street

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disneyland Resort, Features

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Published on November 01, 2013 at 11:59 am with 33 Comments

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.

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Michael Colglazier addresses the crowd

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Confetti cannons graced the reveal of the window.

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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.

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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.

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Richard Sherman

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Marty Sklar

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Dave Smith

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Michael Colglazier and Disney Legend and MiceChat Columnist, Bob Gurr, pose for a pic.

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Bob Gurr poses with Tony in front of his miniature window.

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Beloved Disney artist, Stacia Martin.

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Marty Sklar at left and Disneyland’s first President Jack Lindquist at right.

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MiceChatter, Melvin Asher was at the Tony Baxter Vintage Disneyland Presentation at the D23 convention and won tickets to the window ceremony.

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.

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Please join us in celebrating Tony Baxter’s amazing career. What memories and favorite Baxter attractions are special to you?

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • MickeyMaxx

    So very well-deserved! Congratulations and infinite thanks to Tony for the thrills, giggles, and pure delight his creative mind has brought to millions!

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    A hearty congratulations and three cheers for Tony Baxter. It is almost too sad to think that he’s retired.

    You’re still a young may Tony, let’s raise a few billion dollars and build Baxterland.

    • Figments Friend

      YES!

      I forward that.
      I already have the Map !

    • DisWedWay

      Tony may have been put in the Retired Mode by Disney, but he’s still in the Inspired Mode if they wish to use his years of valuable insight and direction. Creating and Opening Euro Disneyland would seem like his “Greatest Accomplishment” to me. What Disney has done or not done with it since, is no reflection on what Tony Created, which is next to Tokyo Disney Seas in overall level of detail and design.

      • DisWedWay

        Of course there are parts of Paris Disneyland that surpass Tokyo Disney Seas and any of the other Disney Parks with equivalent areas. I’m glad to hear money will be directed towards it in the near future to make it shine again as at its opening in 1992. I’m glad Tony got to attend its 20th Anniversary.

  • Irving

    Congratulations Mr. Baxter, very well deserved recognition!. Thanks for all the Disney moments that you had brought to us!!

  • Zorro825

    Congratulations Mr. Baxter!! I will never forget the 5 minutes I was able to chat with him the day before Disneyland’s big 50th Anniversary Kick-off on May 4th, 2005. It was such a thrill to meet him and take a picture with him and I appreciated him taking time to talk with me even though I could tell he was in a hurry to get to wherever he was going.

  • rstar

    A well deserved cograts to Mr. Baxter! And I agree with him, my fave attraction is also Indy! I saw him twice, where I could have gone up to him to say hi, but I didn’t want to bother him. Now I wish I would have, if only to say thank you in person for 20 seconds. I love his work, and passed my love of his work on to my children, and will continue it on to my grandchildren. Although he is retired, he leaves a legacy that few have the opportunity to leave these days.

  • George Taylor

    The Indiana Jones Adventure was the one attraction I always felt like it was worth a longer than average wait. I remember not being too put off at a two-hour wait for it.

    Tony’s Disney lineage is amazing and stepping into the parks and seeing his designs and attractions is truly inspiring.

    Thanks, Tony.

    • DisWedWay

      That 2 hour wait is fine as according to Disney Legend John Hench in his book, has the Best example of what a Disney Q line should be like. It is the preshow to the story that gets you into the flavor of your adventure at Indy. I hate it when Opps close that off from the public.

  • whamo

    To call Baxter a legend is an understatement.

  • camplkc

    I say we lock Tony over in Tomorrowland until he “beams” his way out!!
    ..Thank You Mr. Baxter (it wouldn’t be my laughing place without you:)

  • JJ61

    I’ve always appreciated Tony’s dedication to Disneyland history and preservation. From recycling animatronics from Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland into Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and America Sings into Splash Mountain, to preserving and upgrading Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln and The Enchanted Tiki Room, Tony has ensured that many elements of the park that I loved as a child will be there the next generation of Disney Fans.
    Congratulations and many thanks Tony.

  • kjorgensen43

    Congratulations!

    Thank you for sharing your experiences in the Seasons Pass Podcast. I hope you will share more stories.

  • DisneylandMaster

    I was born in the year 1995. You could say Disneyland was at its peak with nothing really bad about it (except an empty Carousel Theater). I have aged with the Indiana Jones ride since Day 1, and- to use a strange metaphor- it’s like my Disneyland brother.

    I would like to thank Tony for everything he has done, both big and small. His commitment as an Imagineer is incomprehensible. He has helped make Disneyland bloom like it never has before, and I wish him the greatest of luck in retirement! Though I believe this is not goodbye to another Imagineer, it’s a welcome for a legend.

    Thanks again Tony!

  • waltopia

    As a teen, I pestered some help from an Imagineer to be the first in line to ride Big Thunder Mountain on the day it opened, but I didn’t know anything about who designed it…yet. Over the years, I sure came to appreciate who did. And then met him, at EuroDisneyland’s grand opening, and was finally able to thank him for ALL the wonderful work, while we stood in a world he had created from an empty flat beet field! I’ve run into him a few more times over the years, each a treasured moment for me. This is THE man we Disneyland fans all wish we could have been; The guy who got to spend his life perfecting DISNEYLAND, adding monumentous things to it, rebuilding it, and so much more….while being a really nice person. Nothing could be more fitting than this tribute.

  • Gullywhumper

    I’ve been a huge fan of Tony Baxter since I was a kid. I remember, on my second trip to Disneyland, riding the top deck of the Mark Twain with my father and gazing out over Big Thunder Mountain under construction. Shortly after, I learned about “The Imagineers”. Since that moment, I’ve always wanted to be one.
    Life had other plans, yet winning the opportunity to attend Tony’s Window Ceremony, I feel like there was a reason. I’ve met Tony a few times over the years, at various fan events. He has always been so gracious. Tony, my favorite Imagineer, deserves all the accolades he’s been recently given. I totally agree with the other postings here, Tony is a true Disney Legend.
    May Tony’s creativity continue to shine in retirement. He still consults with the company and told me that they’ve been keeping him very busy in retirement.

  • Lost Boy

    Congratulations Tony. I have known you for many years and you deserve this so much. I wish I could have been there today but it just was not in the cards. Hope to see you again sometime soon so I can do this in person. You are an amazing man.

  • soletrain

    Today I got to say hello to Tony and also took some pics with Bob Gurr. It was an amazing experience and both men were so nice. I felt like i was meeting Wayne Gretzky at his hall of fame induction. Once in a lifetime experience that i will never forget. I couldn’t believe it was happening.