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  1. #1

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    Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Let me once again preface this post by saying it is only a rumor at this point in time:

    In another topic, BlueSkyDriveBy has pieced together some recent items, and it appears to suggest that Tony Baxter is being shown the door by Disney.

    Take a look at some recent info which really adds up to not looking good for this amazing imagineer, who brought us some of DL's most iconic attractions, and endured the Eisner Era of Errors.


    Originally posted in the topic: Will George K. rescue DL's 55th, or is DL's Birthday Celebration already doomed?


    Originally Posted by Aladdin
    Right now the Managers of DL are ignoring DL's 55th and that is PATHETIC. HECK, not even Tony Baxter is hanging around DL for it's 55th, he will be up at the Walt Disney Family Miuseum instead.

    You want to know where one of the biggest 55th events is? At the DL Hotel, AND DISNEYLAND ISN'T EVEN SPONSORING IT! It's a celebration of 55 Year's of DL Music, with Dapper Dans, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, Rod Miller (the now retired Disneyland Main Street Piano Player) and it's a fundraiser for the Orange County Childrens Hospital.
    Originally Posted by BlueSkyDriveBy:

    I'd like to expand on your thoughts here, Aladdin, because there are a couple of dots to connect that you might not be aware of, regarding the event at the DLH.

    The banquet is being hosted by the Disneyland Alumni Club, of which I've been a member for more years than I can count. The DAC holds this banquet every five years, as a way for old-timers like myself to meet with former cast members whom we worked with, and share old memories while being wined and dined with fabulous entertainment. And one of our long-term members being discussed here, Tony Baxter, has always attended these banquets. But, as you pointed out, not this year. He'll be up in San Francisco with Jack Lindquist and Matt Ouimet, giving a presentation on DL at the WDFM. Given all the little tidbits that have bubbled up over the past several weeks on this site and others regarding Tony, something doesn't smell quite right.

    According to a well-known insider on another discussion board and web site, Tom Fitzgerald (who now oversees the entire DL Resort for WDI) is in charge of the DLH Pool retheme and expansion, not Tony Baxter, who is the current WDI creative exec for DL. Tony was the WDI creative exec for DL over 11 years ago, when the Neverland retheme of the pool was conducted under his direction. But now, a different themed overlay is being given to the pool area and the new expansion, which is being directed by Fitzgerald. Red flag #1.

    According to lurkyloo in the D23 40th Anniversary Archives event thread, there was a VIP party held in the Archives after the event, but Tony did not attend the party. The man has five more years at Disney than Dave Smith, and is still a Senior VP at WDI. Yet he isn't important enough to Disney to merit an invite to the Archives VIP party? Why the snub for one of your most well-known and popular senior execs, Disney? Red flag #2.

    Then there's this issue, with Tony at the WDFM on DL's 55th instead of being in Anaheim. No special presentation at the park, no event to honor DL's 55 years, nothing that Tony would most likely attend, so he's doing a late afternoon speaking engagement in San Francisco instead. And as Aladdin pointed out, he won't be able to attend the DAC Banquet later that evening at the DL Hotel, as he has done for past banquets. Red flag #3.

    If I didn't know any better, I'd say that this suspiciously looks like Tony is being deliberately ignored by Disney, being pushed into the background as if he didn't exist, much like they're doing with DL's 55th.

    Now that Tom Fitzgerald is overseeing the entire DL Resort for WDI, which basically makes him Tony's immediate boss, I have to question Disney's future interest in maintaining Baxter's position with the company. Looks to me like Tony might not be around much longer, given how Disney is currently treating him and the park he's still responsible for creatively.
    Could this possibly be what is going on behind the scenes? Is Tony Baxter being placed to the side by Disney Management?

    Is he being excluded from from certain Disney Functions?

    And will Tony even be given a chance and a budget to finish correcting the problems still remaining from TL'98, or is the handwriting on the wall, already?

  2. #2

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    That does seem kind of fishy.
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  3. #3

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    I don't think that's the case at all.

    While it may very well be that Tom's agenda is different than Tony's, Tony has survived much more hostile environments than this.

    Tony is still the torch-bearer for Disneyland and everyone in the company knows that.

    If Tony were to suddenly "Resign", the uproar would be massive both within the company and in the fan community. Many who love the company would instantly turn against the mouse. It would be painful and costly to the company beyond the occasional gas that Tony gives those above him who may not like to pay for some of his pet projects.

    Imagineering is intensely political and backstabbing can destroy any career at any time, but I think Tony may be above that fray. At least for now.

    Sounds to me that Tony may have lost a project battle or two, but that is nothing in Imagineering. Happens all the time, even to the big guys, like Tony.

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    ^^^^^^^^^^^

    This.


    This has been a Filmways presentation dahling.

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    What Dusty said. This is not a big deal.
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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    I think Tony has chosen not to attend a few functions in resent times that he normally does. Everybody knows that he is the primary inspiration toward getting a Little Mermaid ride going. Plus he's got a megaloade of attraction projects that he's plaid a leading role in developing, and new ones he's working on today. He has the Pixar guys behind him (Lasseter and Jobs), that would go to bat for him with Iger (in my opinion). No non-creative pin head manager or managers has the power to remove a legendary icon such as good ol' Tonesto.
    Last edited by Ride Warrior; 06-30-2010 at 06:59 PM.
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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    I don't think that's the case at all.

    While it may very well be that Tom's agenda is different than Tony's, Tony has survived much more hostile environments than this.

    Tony is still the torch-bearer for Disneyland and everyone in the company knows that.

    If Tony were to suddenly "Resign", the uproar would be massive both within the company and in the fan community. Many who love the company would instantly turn against the mouse. It would be painful and costly to the company beyond the occasional gas that Tony gives those above him who may not like to pay for some of his pet projects.

    Imagineering is intensely political and backstabbing can destroy any career at any time, but I think Tony may be above that fray. At least for now.

    Sounds to me that Tony may have lost a project battle or two, but that is nothing in Imagineering. Happens all the time, even to the big guys, like Tony.

    -Dusty
    I go along with Dusty statement more....
    For the same reason...
    If Tony were to suddenly "Resign"or "Fire".....
    Then we all be looking at Disneyland in other light...
    which would not be good!
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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    This is what I have been afraid of since Fitzgerald was put in charge of DLR.
    ("BTW' expect to see a lot more video screens.)

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    I don't think that's the case at all.

    While it may very well be that Tom's agenda is different than Tony's, Tony has survived much more hostile environments than this.

    Tony is still the torch-bearer for Disneyland and everyone in the company knows that.

    If Tony were to suddenly "Resign", the uproar would be massive both within the company and in the fan community. Many who love the company would instantly turn against the mouse. It would be painful and costly to the company beyond the occasional gas that Tony gives those above him who may not like to pay for some of his pet projects.

    Imagineering is intensely political and backstabbing can destroy any career at any time, but I think Tony may be above that fray. At least for now.

    Sounds to me that Tony may have lost a project battle or two, but that is nothing in Imagineering. Happens all the time, even to the big guys, like Tony.

    -Dusty
    Dusty knows best.

    I definitely think Tom has a different agenda than Tony, at least creatively (if not further). I think Tom's idea of a Disney attraction are far different than Tony's — the most notable difference is Tom's insistence on "interactive" as opposed to Tony's more traditional approach.

    But like Dusty said, the uproar inside and out of the Company if Tony left would be unparalleled. As far as I'm concerned, Tony is Disneyland, moreso than any other current Imagineer.
    Last edited by MasterGracey; 06-30-2010 at 04:31 PM.

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  10. #10

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    I don't think that's the case at all.

    While it may very well be that Tom's agenda is different than Tony's, Tony has survived much more hostile environments than this.

    Tony is still the torch-bearer for Disneyland and everyone in the company knows that.

    If Tony were to suddenly "Resign", the uproar would be massive both within the company and in the fan community. Many who love the company would instantly turn against the mouse. It would be painful and costly to the company beyond the occasional gas that Tony gives those above him who may not like to pay for some of his pet projects.

    Imagineering is intensely political and backstabbing can destroy any career at any time, but I think Tony may be above that fray. At least for now.

    Sounds to me that Tony may have lost a project battle or two, but that is nothing in Imagineering. Happens all the time, even to the big guys, like Tony.

    -Dusty
    Thanks, Dusty!

    Yes, Tony surived some awful years with Eisner in command. So Tony has to have a pretty tough skin to survive all that, and it would take a heck of a lot for that to happen. And the outcry of an ouster like that would be enormous. Happy to hear you don't think that's the case. We can breath a little easier.

    It looks like what we really need to question is Tom Fitzgerald's judgement on certain parts of the Disneyland Hotel courtyard area project.

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    I don't think that's the case at all.

    While it may very well be that Tom's agenda is different than Tony's, Tony has survived much more hostile environments than this.

    Tony is still the torch-bearer for Disneyland and everyone in the company knows that.

    If Tony were to suddenly "Resign", the uproar would be massive both within the company and in the fan community. Many who love the company would instantly turn against the mouse. It would be painful and costly to the company beyond the occasional gas that Tony gives those above him who may not like to pay for some of his pet projects.

    Imagineering is intensely political and backstabbing can destroy any career at any time, but I think Tony may be above that fray. At least for now.

    Sounds to me that Tony may have lost a project battle or two, but that is nothing in Imagineering. Happens all the time, even to the big guys, like Tony.

    -Dusty
    "It has that thing - the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement - I knew when I was kid."
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  12. #12

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aladdin View Post
    It looks like what we really meed to question is Tom Fitzgerald's judgement on certain parts of the Disneyland Hotel courtyard area project.
    Maybe' It will be a giant LED Screen with video of waterfalls.

  13. #13

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Tony has been through far worse than this through the mid 90s. He probably has the complete trust of Lasseter, so he isn't going anywhere. Also, no one Imagineer "is" Disneyland. The only time the place falls apart is when management is ignorant or weak enough to let the entire place fall into a snakepit of politics and tearing each other's ideas down.

    Even when WDI does collapse into a mess, Tony isn't exactly inexperienced in this. His debut attraction was the death knell for Marc Davis' Western River Expedition, and thus may have won him more enemies than friends. So he isn't afraid to undermine one of the others.

    Quote Originally Posted by HMF View Post
    ("BTW' expect to see a lot more video screens.)
    If it means a return to a tourist destination again, I'm for it.

  14. #14

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    EDIT: Considering the rather wild life this thread has had I felt I should edit this into my initial post. My initial thoughts and inquiries led me to believe that Tony may be on the way out. His own mannerisms, and the fact that John has "won" a majority of the thematic discussions further pushed me towards this conclusion. Most agreed that he has a few years left. However the more I have inquired the more I have learned. Tony is a political individual, and you must be to have survived as long as he has. It is his belief that a compromise to preserve a vital piece of the park is a necessary evil. I do not agree with him, but I can't fault him for bringing back the Subs, or attempting to bring back the Flying Saucers. Ultimately he is keeping his name in the light, and in doing so has maintained his fans. I have stated we have the Subs but "at what cost", the answer is actually pretty shocking... It is entirely possible to make over the Subs at any point. It is far more difficult to do that if the Subs were scrapped, and the lagoon paved over.

    What I have also come to realize is that Tony has been feeding a lot of his concepts through John. He realizes the importance of influence, but as I said it is politics at its finest. John is an equally creative individual who wishes to leave his mark upon Disney as a whole. While I detest the haphazard placement of Pixar everywhere... I can hardly fault a parent for wanting their children to be included in their projects.

    More then anything I have head that Tom is the one on the ice. He has a substantial amount of responsibility but lacks the friends of Tony, or the star power of John. Fans aren't exactly supportive of him, and his departure would go with cheers rather then boos... As I have read through this thread I have noticed an unrivaled amount of support for Tom from specific individuals. I've watched as first Al, then Micechat as a whole was accused of some mass "cover-up". I can state openly what many within WDI can not. Many feel Tom's supporters are behind this thread. There is no "proof" to this. The thread initially hurt Tony's credibility (specifically the accusations of Tony leaking to Al). However as the thread progressed it has backfired. The overwhelming over the top support of Tom... someone rarely mentioned as positive on this site... has served to alienate Tom further from WDI. It would not shock me in the least if Tom were handed a project deemed "too big to fail" and subsequently fired for mismanagement.

    George K is one of the few friends of Tom, dating back to days in Paris. But even that relationship is strained compared to his relationship with both John and Tony. I may not always agree with the decisions of the company, or with Tony, but I have learned a LOT in the life of this thread. I am steadily growing tired of the astro-turfing seen in a variety of threads on here. I'd hope that those responsible would learn their lesson... that a quality product will outshine substandard marketing... and that a quality individual will outpace a vicious rumor.

    -- Techskip 10/13/10





    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ORIGINAL POST: Here is my take on it. Tony is a relic of the past, like him or hate him he is one of the few remaining who knew the old WED. He has been through a lot... but after the sinking of TL98 he seems to have lost more battles then he's won. He's alays been heavy handed on backstory, but I prefer his style to the marketing tactics of today. AT least he tossed some originality in there and didn't just retell the story.

    Which brings me to this point... even now... at what many would consider the tail end of his career... he has to fight for everything. He isn't just given projects and granted budgets based on his name. He has to prove his ideas and in the current climate being original isn't considered a benefit. As he watches John upstage him, winning Pixar project after project and twisting entire lands out of his grasp, maybe now he is empathetic to how Marc Davis felt about WRE. Maybe now he understands why it is such an instinctive feeling to want to leave something legendary behind, a final bang on the way out.

    For those who thought Tony's decision to bring in Lucas was bad... John's ascension in the ranks has been far worse. With the acquisition of John and Pixar came the shoehorned placement of John's "babies" in every land. Tony wants the Tomorrowland redo... as it stands now Tom appears to be giving part, or even all of it, to John. Ironic how history sometimes repeats itself.
    Last edited by techskip; 08-13-2010 at 08:59 PM.
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  15. #15

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Does the average fan really have a clue who Tony Baxter is?

    The hardcore fans (i.e. us) might be outraged if Tony gets the boot, but I'm skeptical there will be a "massive uproar".
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