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Author: Fuskie Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Ticker Guide SC1 Red Winner of the 2010 Rule Breakers Challenge Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 49694  
Subject: MouseBits - Disney's Hallmark Values Date: 2/5/2013 4:17 PM
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Tony Baxtor Retires From Walt Disney Imagineering
After more than thirty years creating legendary Disney theme park attractions, Tony Baxter has stepped down from his role as Senior Vice President, Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering. He’ll stay on board as an advisor to Imagineers but will no longer work full time for Disney.

Baxter made his name at Walt Disney Imagineering beginning back in the ’70s when it was still known as WED Enterprises. His Disney career began on Main Street USA at Disneyland when he was just a teenager. Ultimately he went on to help design famous attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Journey Into Imagination, Splash Mountain, and the Indiana Jones Adventure, also having a hand on just about every project to enter a Disney theme park over the last three decades.

The following was released by WDI Co-Executive leaders Bruce Vaughn and Craig Russell:

From: WDI Communications
Date: February 1, 2013, 8:02:16 AM PST
Subject: Organizational Announcement - Tony Baxter

We'd like to share that, as of today, Tony Baxter is leaving his role as a creative development executive to become a part-time advisor to Imagineering. Tony began his 47-year Disney career as an ice cream scooper on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland while in college. After joining WDI in 1970, he was heavily involved in the concepts for some of our most iconic attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Star Tours, Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones. He also oversaw the creative aspects of the "original" New Fantasyland at Disneyland and was the creative lead for our second international park, Disneyland Paris.

In addition to his extensive portfolio work, Tony has long been an enthusiastic mentor to new Imagineers and will continue this mission in his new role. Like so many Imagineering greats before him, his creativity, passion and knowledge will have a remarkable impact on the next generations of WDI dreamers and doers. We thank Tony for his immeasurable contributions to the Disney legacy so far, and look forward to his next chapter.

Bruce | Craig


After informing a small group of Imagineers of his role change over dinner last night, Baxter today sent a letter to all Walt Disney Imagineers:

http://mousepad.mouseplanet.com/showthread.php?193041-Tony-B...

Here is an exerpt from his letter which I think should be relevent to all investors in The Walt Disney Company as it establishes clearly the guidelines by which the company's creativity is driven:

As one of the lucky second-generation Imagineers, I had the unique opportunity to experience firsthand the core philosophies of our company. I was fortunate enough to work with Claude Coats, Marc Davis, John Hench and the many others who built this industry alongside Walt Disney. I was able to soak up their wisdom and partner with them on creative projects. I have passed forward many of their key philosophies, and as our culture and scope have evolved, I have tried to balance my support of these foundations, with the business of charting "what's next." Now the 21st century brings a new reality … for the first time, the younger generation is master of the key technologies driving the future. While upcoming generations deal with tech tools that are evolving almost daily, many of Disney's keystone philosophies remain stable and relevant. These philosophies help define our creative edge to a world that is eager for aspirational content. With no particular order, here are five that continue to inspire me, and I think you may find useful in shaping "creative futures" for the years to come.

Creating Lasting Experiences - Legendary Imagineer Marc Davis once said, "We don't really have a story with a beginning, an end or a plot … It's more a series of experiences … building up to a climax." Guests still want to be astonished, and our best attractions deliver that wow factor with visions and emotions. I always start with the notion that it is the 20th repeat ride, not the first that is the most important. Park experiences are by nature less able to focus on linear stories and tangible feelings than motion pictures. Unlike a movie, what separates an OK attraction from a great one is that people find themselves "in" the great ones. They have been taken to a place they couldn't have imagined without Disney. How intriguingly we craft the level of guest engagement has direct bearing on desire for an umpteenth ride down the same track.

In Fantasyland, a simple line of dialogue heralds the beginning of one of the most aspirational ride experiences ever created; "Come on everybody … here we go!" After riding Peter Pan, futurist Ray Bradbury was moved to write; "Walt, I'll be eternally grateful that you made it possible for me to sail from a child's window, out over moonlit London in a galleon on its way to the stars!" Despite the fact that by today's standards Peter Pan's technology is dated, its mystique has remained unwavering. The WDI challenge is finding ways to ensure today's more sophisticated experiences have similar intangible qualities that provide groundwork for lasting appeal.

Sincerity - One of Walt Disney's ways of overcoming what sophisticates tended to see as corny or sentimental was his absolute belief in sincerity. Defending Disney's signature animation style in the movie Cinderella, Walt expressed what is to me a true hallmark of the Disney difference: "You have to believe in the honesty of Cinderella's world, or you will not believe in the magic as it unfolds around her either." The power of sincerity to win over an audience is "front and center" in the new Cars Land. Here, a truly believable environment fuses with the fantastic to give rise to new reality.

Valuable Mental Real Estate - Awhile back there was talk about the elusive "Disney Difference." What the "difference" is may be open to various interpretations, but I see it centered on cultivating "Valuable Mental Real Estate." Since the early days at the studio, Disney has excelled in focusing diverse talents on plussing core ideas. Enhanced value stems from something as simple as the emotional appeal of Epcot's Figment character in comparison to hundreds of other generic dragons. When the whole team undertakes a mission to make "our dragon" stand out in every way, mental real estate values go up.

At Imagineering, where we must deal with equal parts of controlled insanity and disciplined evaluation, this can be complicated. Years ago, who else could have come up with the crazy idea for Flying Saucers and then make the concept work! (Sort of). Piloting flying saucers is every kid's dream, and in spite of the ride's technical shortcomings, people will forever recall the Flying Saucers as an E ticket. This rides aspirational, "bucket list", once-in-a-lifetime intrigue, more than made up for any less than stellar performance.

Disney Hallmark Values - Current culture and the structure of our company are vastly different from the time when I began my career. Yet within that dynamic, hallmark values continue to add major appeal to today's more socially sensitive content. Disney's feature Beauty and the Beast shared many hallmarks with its ancestor Snow White, but it spoke to a vastly different audience with a finer tuned voice. Likewise, the more recent Tangled fuses traditional Disney values with relevancy aimed at a new generation.

Beyond the WDI walls, Pixar and Marvel achieve a consistency of success in their fast paced arenas. Each Pixar team is confident enough in their individual productions to freely reach out and tap into links that insure Pixar's hallmark differentiators are a part of every project. Marvel has taken a different route, tasking individual creative teams to bridge their storylines under an overarching and epic saga. Regardless of the diversity of deliverables, hallmark values are key to all Disney entities, and everyone needs to be alert to where they reside, and how and why to fuse them to the DNA of a project.

Mentoring - At both ends of a career one of the most important working relationships is achieved through mentoring. When you are in your 20s and 30s it critical to find a mentor you can admire and trust. What proved most valuable for me was a mentoring partnership that skipped a full generation. A wide age gap creates a cross-generational opportunity for two-way learning. A young mentee sees a mentor's still bright light as support for his or her own growing visibility, and the gap vanquishes the sense of competition.

In a complementary way, a mentor's satisfaction is fueled by the growing knowledge and skills transferred to their younger partner. My mentor was Imagineering legend Claude Coats, nearly four decades my senior. For Pixar director Pete Docter, his mentors were animation giants Joe Grant and Ollie Johnson. Pete and I absorbed as much knowledge as we possibly could during a period of growth in our careers. I would like to think our esteemed mentors also drew inspiration from our curiosity and unexplored visions!

A mentorship is not a few hours of counseling every so often; it is pulling together on real projects, with business/creative goals and knowledge gains to be made by both sides. This is the partnership I had with Claude Coats, and we remained lifetime friends because of our shared working time together.


A Bit Of Whimsey
I've been holding onto this comic since last summer. It gives you an idea of how the dynamic shifts anytime Disney makes it's presence known.

http://www.onthefastrack.com/?webcomic1=july-10-2012

Fuskie
Who thinks Tony summarizes Disney's culture pretty well...
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