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Joe Rohde announces retirement from Walt Disney Imagineering

joe rohde walt disney imagineering

Joe Rohde, a veteran of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), has announced his retirement after 40 years with the company in a post on Instagram.

Rohde confirmed the news on Monday (November 23). He wrote: “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,” he added.

Rohde served as a creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering. He began his career in 1980 as a model designer on EPCOT, and continued with projects at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris.

Joe Rohde led the team behind Animal Kingdom


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A post shared by Joe Rohde (@joerohde)

He led the team that conceptualised, designed and constructed Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida. He also oversaw the Villages Nature Eco-Resort adjacent to Disneyland Paris.

In addition, he led the team behind Pandora: The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission: Escape at Disney California Adventure.

Rohde said his time at Walt Disney Imagineering “has been a learning experience”, adding that he’s “very glad to have had that opportunity”.

“But 40 years is a long time, and this strange quiet time seems like a great opportunity to slip away without too much disruption,” said Rohde.

WDI president Bob Weis honours Joe Rohde


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A post shared by Bob Weis (@bobweis)

“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. I’m not that old yet and there are things I want to do that cannot be done here.”

Walt Disney Imagineering president Bob Weis also honoured Joe on Instagram, writing: “Joe has committed forty years to bringing dynamic, inventive, and diverse projects to Disney parks.”

“Today, Joe announced his plans to retire from the company, and while I respect and accept his decision, I know he will remain part of our Imagineering family, a mentor to our current and future generation, and certainly the best example to our worldwide audience of what it is to be an Imagineer.”

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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