Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde Announces Retirement In January 2021

After a career spanning many significant and renowned achievements, Imagineer Joe Rohde is planning to retire just after the new year begins in January of 2021.

What’s Happening:

  • Walt Disney Imagineering today has announced that famed Imagineer Joe Rohde is set to retire in January of 2021, ending an illustrious career of significant contributions to the company.
  • Sharing a photo of Rohde, they captioned the post: “After an illustrious 40-year Imagineering career, Joe Rohde just shared his plan to retire on Jan. 4, 2021. We can’t thank Joe enough for his infectious passion, being an incredible teacher and mentor, and for inspiring generations of Disney Imagineers and guests from around the world. Wishing @JoeRohde all the best in his next journey and on the many, many more adventures yet to come.”

  • Soon after, Rohde posted his own reflection on his career, writing, “I’m sure by now many of you have come across the news that I am retiring from Walt Disney Imagineering. It has been 40 years since I stepped foot in the door at age 25, not knowing anything about theme parks, Disney, or what it meant to work for a big company. Every day of my life since then has been a learning experience. I’m very glad to have had that opportunity, and proud of the work that has been done, not just by me, but by all my fellow Imagineers, and especially those who worked by my side over the decades. But 40 years is a long time, and this strange quiet time seems like a great opportunity to slip away without too much disruption. If I wait, I will once again be in the middle of another huge project and by the time that is done, I would be truly old.”


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A post shared by Joe Rohde (@joerohde)

About Joe Rohde:

  • Rohde began his career at Walt Disney Imagineering in 1980, working on EPCOT’s World Showcase pavilions, specifically Mexico and later Norway. He also worked on Captain EO, the 1983 New Fantasyland project at Disneyland, and the Adventurer’s Club at Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island.
  • Pitching the idea in a board room full of executives just by bringing in a live tiger to showcase the thrill of wild animals, It was his turn as Lead Designer for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park that garnered much acclaim. His designs added so much detail, history, and culture into a brand new project that pushed the bar of immersive storytelling at the fourth Walt Disney World theme park.
  • This level of design and detail continued with new projects at the park, like Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain and even Pandora: The World of Avatar, which he admittedly was skeptical to take on until he realized the themes of the film were complementary to the conversation and preservation messages of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • Rohde also tackled projects outside of the “new species of theme park,” and was heavily involved with the development of Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii. He was also on the Lighthouse Point project, a new port of call that is currently in development for the Disney Cruise Line.
  • Rohde also was the face of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout at Disney California Adventure and was involved early on in the Marvel expansion that became Avengers Campus, which is opening soon at Disney California Adventure.
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