Imagineer Joe Rohde Retiring

Earlier today Imagineer Joe Rohde announced that he will be retiring from the Walt Disney Company.  Joe is most well known as the creator of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Joe will retire from the company after a 40 year career and creator of some of Imagineering’s finest work, most recently as the lead on Pandora – The World of AVATAR. According to a post from fellow Imagineer Zach Riddley and current WDI lead for Walt Disney World, Joe will leave his position on January 4 2021.

On Instagram Joe posted –

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. I’m not that old yet and there are things I want to do that cannot be done here. We encourage a culture of storytellers, not just amongst ourselves but among our guests and our fans, and because of this, there is a strong temptation to take this moment and turn it into a story. But what story? I think it’s a coming of age story. I started at Disney as a child, and I learned almost all my life lessons there, developed my confidence, recognized my skills and weaknesses, and went on to work with both… and do what could be done. I could stay forever, but that is like remaining in another kind of womb. I want to see what a grown man might be able to do on his own. This site here is not really for Disney. It’s for us. I imagine that there are many of you who I will be sad that I will no longer be a daily part of the Disney company, and there will be some of you who will drift away and no longer follow my ruminations because they feel they aren’t relevant. But I will still be here. And I will still be thinking about things, and doing things, and talking about things… Because that’s kind of what I do. I mentioned in my departure note and I will mention here again the tremendous debt that I owe to our guests and our fans who have been so generous. Working as an Imagineer has made me a good designer, but it is all of you who have made me a better person.

D23’s Behind-the-Scenes Experience: An Afternoon Adventure to Pandora with Joe Rohde

GOLD MEMBER EVENT
FRIDAY MAY 19
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
$250 per person, plus a $5 per person processing fee. Tickets on sale Wednesday, April 5 at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. EDT). Please check back here for the ticketing link.

OVERVIEW
Be among the first to explore Pandora – The World of Avatar not only before it opens to the public, but with Joe Rohde, Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering! In addition to a guided walk-through of the exotic new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park with Joe, attendees will enjoy lunch at Tiffins with Mr. Rohde and fellow D23 Members.

DETAILS
Experience begins at 11:00 a.m. and will last approximately three hours. Check-in will begin in front of Tiffins restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Please do not arrive before 10:45 a.m.

Attendees are invited to return to Pandora – The World of Avatar to join an exploration window on their own from 3 – 5 p.m. the same day.

Available to Gold and Gold Family Members
You will be required to show a photo ID. Members will be required to show their D23 Membership Card.

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Before Pandora – The World of Avatar opens May 27 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, D23 is thrilled to transport a limited number of members to the all-new land for a once-in-a-lifetime afternoon with Joe Rohde, Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering!

Na’vi River Journey

Guests will travel to Pandora – The World of Avatar with Joe to explore the Valley of Mo’ara, a verdant terrain sprawling beneath mountains that appear to float in the sky. Throughout the guided tour, guests will learn how the thriving Pandoran landscape conveys intrinsic park messages of the value of nature, transformation through adventure, conservation and stewardship.

Tiffins restaurant

In addition to the D23-exclusive tour, guests will join Joe for lunch at Tiffins—a restaurant that celebrates the adventures of traveling.

That afternoon, attendees are invited to return to Pandora to join an exploration window on their own from 3 – 5 p.m. During this time, guests will also have the opportunity to soar on the back of a mountain banshee during Avatar Flight of Passage, and venture deep into the bioluminescent rainforest during the Na’vi River Journey.*

This once-in-a-lifetime experience wouldn’t be complete without a custom gift, created exclusively for you.

*Event is subject to cancellation in the event of inclement weather. As this is an early exploration of Pandora – The World of Avatar, please note that access to some areas of the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandora may be limited during your visit.

NOTE

  • D23 Gold and Gold Family Members may reserve a ticket for themselves and one (1) guest.
  • Due to the nature of this experience, all attendees must be at least 21 years of age or older to partake in this D23 event.
  • This event does not include admission to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests will need to have or purchase admission to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to attend. If planning to use a Walt Disney World Annual Passport to attend, each guest should check blockout dates to verify that the pass is valid for admission on Friday, May 19.
  • A very limited number of tickets are available. D23 Members will be required to provide their membership number when reserving tickets. Tickets may be picked up only with a valid photo ID AND D23 MEMBERSHIP CARD. D23 Members who do not bring their membership card may not be admitted to the event. Ticketed Members who do not attend the event forfeit their place as well as all experiences, benefits, and gifts associated with the event.
  • All D23 Special Events are subject to change without notice. There are no cancellations or refunds, and tickets are not transferable.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Filming, photography, and other recording will take place at Walt Disney World Resort during the event you will be attending. By entering the premises, you irrevocably consent to and authorize The Walt Disney Company, its affiliates, successors, and assigns (collectively “Producer”), to photograph you, make sound recordings of you, and use such photographs and recordings throughout the world, for any purpose whatsoever in perpetuity, including, but not limited to, television broadcasts and home entertainment products, including, but not limited to, home video and DVD. All such photographs and sound recordings will be the sole property of Producer.

James Cameron to Unveil New Details on Pandora – The World of Avatar at D23 Destination D: Amazing Adventures

AVATAR creators James Cameron (writer, director, producer) and Jon Landau (producer) will join Imagineer Joe Rohde for Pandora – The World of AVATAR, a presentation where they will unveil new details about the immersive, 12-acre land coming soon to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

In addition, the event will include a conversation with Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Plus, Moanas creenwriter Jared Bush (co-writer/co-director Zootopia) will be on hand to provide guests an exclusive advance look at the making of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ newest animated feature.

The two-day event will take place November 19 and 20, 2016, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Resort.

Since Walt Disney first brought his groundbreaking True-Life Adventures to the big screen, adventure has played a pivotal role in Disney entertainment, from the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean to the new planet of Pandora, which will soon be unveiled at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This year, members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club are invited to join the excitement at D23 Destination D: Amazing Adventures, a celebration of these landmarks of the past, present, and future. The two-day event will take place November 19 and 20, 2016 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Resort.

The Walt Disney Archives will present a special exhibit created exclusively for the event: Walt’s Great Adventures, featuring photographs, props, and models that showcase Walt Disney’s personal voyages, including his trip to South America in 1941, as well as some of his most memorable creations for television, film, and theme parks, such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Additionally, during the weekend, guests will be among the first to see the new Ethan Allen | Disney home furnishing line in person.

Cameron, Landau, Chapek, and Bush, join already-announced presenters and panelists Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Tony Baxter; Walt Disney Imagineers Joe Rohde, Chris Merritt, Jason Grandt, and Wyatt Winter; producer Don Hahn (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast); and Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline.

Mickey’s of Glendale, the famed Walt Disney Imagineering store, returns to the event with a pop-up shop at the event for attendees, featuring a selection of exclusive Imagineering merchandise as well as limited-edition pins, T-shirts, and collectibles themed to the event.

Highlights of D23 DESTINATION D: AMAZING ADVENTURES will include*:

  • Welcome to Adventureland: Set off on a journey through “Adventurelands” at Disney Parks around the world, beginning with a rare look at artist Harper Goff’s exotic concepts for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
  • Tales from the Jungle Cruise: Fans of “the backside of water” unite! Discover the legendary history of the world-famous attraction with a panel of wisecracking experts, including a behind-the-scenes look at recent holiday overlays and the new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s 45th Anniversary: From tropical hideaways to enchanting entertainment, celebrate the spirit of aloha as D23 looks back at 45 years of the classic South Pacific-themed getaway.
  • New Walt Disney World Adventures: From Soarin’ Around the World to Rivers of Light—Get an insider’s glimpse into the latest experiences across Walt Disney World Resort as Disney Imagineers provide a behind-the-scenes look at new and upcoming entertainment.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Evolving a New Species of Theme Park—Explore the origins and incredible evolution of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, from early concepts to up-close looks at new enhancements to be discovered at the park.
  • Magic Journeys: 45 Years of Walt Disney World Adventures—Celebrate the 45th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort with a nostalgic journey through some of the Vacation Kingdom’s most unique and fondly-remembered adventures!
  • A Look Back at Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures—Join Disney historians on an expedition through the landmark True-Life Adventure series, which earned the Disney Studio eight Academy Awards®!
  • The Art and Adventures of Marc Davis—Discover the adventurous artwork of artist, animator, and Disney Legend Marc Davis with Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Production Designer Chris Merritt, who is authoring a new book on the Disney Legend.

The weekend event will take place in the convention center at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Tickets, on sale now, are $190 each for D23 Gold and Gold Family Members. Tickets are also available to D23 General Members for $250 per ticket. All guests will receive a special gift created exclusively for the event, and attendees are guaranteed seats at all panels and presentations. A limited number of Wilderness Explorer VIP are now sold out.

Please keep in mind, we have a special evening activity planned for Sunday, November 20 that attendees won’t want to miss. Stay tuned for updates.

Specially priced rooms and theme park tickets will be available to D23 Members who purchase Destination Dtickets.

Imagineers Joe Rohde and Bob Weis Expand their Roles with Walt Disney Imagineering

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Two of Disney most well known and highest ranking Imagineers are expanding their roles ahead of a period of expected growth.

Joe Rohde, currently the creative lead at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, will expand his role at Imagineering to take on global creative leadership of the Marvel property.

Rohde is currently working on the the development of AVATAR Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and also oversees the creative work at the Aulani Resort.

Bob Weis, who is currently heavily involved in the creation of Shanghai Disney Resort, will also take on the position of creative lead of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Weis is best known to the American park fans as the creative force behind the development of Disney MGM Studios, and for the massive make-over of Disney California Adventure.

Together with the recent appointment of Scott Trowbridge as the lead on the Star Wars projects, the expansion of roles for Rohde and Weis would seem to send a clear message of where the future of Imagineering will be focussed – Star Wars, Marvel and Asia.