On Friday, November 1, friends, fans and colleagues gathered as Tony Baxter was honored with his own window on Main Street. The Disneyland Band played sprightly tunes as the crowd greeted one another. Tony Baxter made his entrance in Walt Disney’s own Main Street runabout.
The ceremony was kicked off by Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier, who noted that it was fitting to gather below the Main Street Magic Shop, as Baxter had brought so much magic to the Disney Company. After acknowledging a number of Disney Legends in the crowd, he introduced Disney Parks and Resorts head Tom Staggs.
After briefly discussing the meaning of the Main Street windows, Staggs lauded Tony Baxter. “You’ve taken on some amazing journeys over the years. He said. “We’ve gone to the old West, we’ve gone into space, we’ve even had a special journey into imagination.” He then recounted Baxter’s career with Disney, starting as an ice cream scooper in 1965.
Staggs also spoke of Baxter’s status among Disney fans. Indeed, two fans, chosen at random from the crowd that had attended the D23 Expo were in attendance that day. They had been present when the announcement had been made about this window ceremony. Staggs also noted that Tony Baxter was a noted mentor at Walt Disney Imagineering, and introduced Bruce Vaughn to recount this aspect of Baxter’s career.
Then it was time for Mickey Mouse to enter, and reveal the window. As the band softly played, an audiotape of Walt Disney was heard. It was a familiar quote, given resonance by the occasion: “We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, doing new things, because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. We’re always exploring and experimenting… We call it Imagineering- the blending of creative imagination with technical know-how.”
With a deft tug on the cord holding the drape in place, and a burst of confetti, the window was revealed. It read:
Main Street Marvels,
Tony Baxter, Inventor,
Imagination is in the heart of our creation.
After receiving a replica of his new window, Tony Baxter took the stage to deliver some comments of his own. After some humor involving the size of the manuscript for his speech, Baxter spoke. He recalled Disneyland as first a television program, then a park, and then his life’s work. Mentoring was a thread that ran through his remarks, culminating in a call for those he had mentored to stand and be acknowledged by the crowd.
Baxter went on to cite leaders and partners, as well as peers who had influenced and enabled him in his career at Disney. Among those he cited were Michael Eisner and Frank Wells, Marty Sklar and Mickey Steinberg at Imagineering, and the creative team that worked with him on Disneyland Paris. He also noted three who had passed on, Randy Bright, Bruce Gordon, and John Stone, calling them, “some of the most creative people I have ever worked with.”
“This is Walt’s park, and this where it all began,” Baxter concluded. “The names up on these windows gave the world a very magical kingdom. But more importantly, they created a yardstick by which everything that’s followed Disneyland has been measured. Now for me, I was really, really fortunate to know and work with most of these people… To be included with them here at Disneyland is, to me, the ultimate honor. So thank you all, very, very much.”[pics page=”1″]