Cal Poly to Host Talk with Longtime Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter on Feb. 9

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A former Disneyland ride designer whose work helped shape the company’s modern theme parks will speak at Cal Poly at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, in the Spanos Theatre on campus.

Tony Baxter, former senior vice president of creative development in Walt Disney Imagineering, assisted in the design and construction of popular Disneyland attractions such as Splash Mountain, Star Tours and Indiana Jones Adventure.

“I’d say that Tony Baxter is the most famous living ride designer in the world,” English professor Todd Pierce said.

Baxter will speak about his experience in ride design at Disney theme parks, including the ways art and storytelling meet with engineering and architecture to create entertainment attractions. The talk, part of the CLA Speaks series, is free and open to the public.

Baxter started college at Cal Poly Pomona as a landscape architecture major. He later transferred to Cal State Long Beach, where he graduated with a degree in theater design after completing a senior project that included designs and concepts for attractions at Disney theme parks. He applied his experience in both disciplines throughout his career as a ride designer.

A Disney fan since his youth, Baxter was hired as a Disney Imagineer in 1970 at 23 years old. He began his tenure as field art director for the Magic Kingdom’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. In the following decade, Baxter helped define the modern Disney park landscape with attractions such as the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Imagination Pavilion at EPCOT Center.

After serving as executive producer of Disneyland Paris in 1992, he returned stateside to redesign Tomorrowland at Disneyland in 1998 and for 50th anniversary projects: the restoration of the Disneyland submarines with Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, the re-opening of an enhanced Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, an upgraded restoration of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Star Tours — The Adventures Continue, and Fantasy Faire. Baxter retired in February 2013 but continues to serve as a creative advisor and mentor of a new generation of Imagineers.

Tony Baxter

About Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts
The College of Liberal Arts comprises 15 departments and two interdisciplinary programs, offering highly selective programs in the arts, humanities, communications and social sciences. Providing nearly one-third of the university’s instruction, the college serves as an essential component of liberal arts education for all students at Cal Poly. The college fosters excellence within its cutting-edge disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses while diversifying, extending and enriching the broader polytechnic environment.

Contact: Todd Pierce

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