Disney Legend Joe Rohde to Teach Imagineering Courses

Disney is bringing back its geniuses – or one of them, at least, in a limited capacity. In an Instagram post on their Walt Disney Imagineering account, Disney announced that Joe Rohde, the “Imagineer” (which, as near as I can tell, is a fantasy-sounding word Disney made up that means “designer”) who helped create the Disney World park Disney’s Animal Kingdom and its Pandora: The World of Avatar attraction, as well as the spa and resort Aulani, will be “honored as a Disney Legend” at a ceremony on August 11, 2024. A later post on the account revealed that Rohde will be teaching “a series of master class work sessions” for Disney Imagineers, passing down his knowledge and experience to future generations of designers. Rohde’s classes begin this week.

Joe Rohde returning to Disney, even just to teach some courses to younger designers, feels important when you look at his career and what’s happened at the Disney parks since he left in 2021 (to work for Virgin Galactic, a British spaceflight company – so, you know, no big deal or anything; he’s just designing rocket ships). In addition to Animal Kingdom, Rohde was responsible for Captain EO, the 3D show starring Michael Jackson that ran in Epcot from 1986-1998 and was revived in various Disney parks from 2010-2015. (Not to date myself too much, but Captain EO was running when I went to Disney World; unfortunately, it was closed on the day my family went to Epcot.) Captain EO was a big deal when it ran, and there were lots of commercials hyping it as one of Disney World’s bigger draws. And that’s not to mention that he oversaw the creation of an entire park for Disney World in 1998. When he left in 2021, Disney Imagineering President Bob Weis described Rohde’s expertise at “setting the vision to feasibility, design and execution.” Sounds like they could’ve used him on Galactic Starcruiser. I’m not joking, either (well, a little), and that colossal blunder makes me suspect that it’s part of why Disney asked Rohde to teach their new Imagineers. This company has been throwing around money like water on a burning building, and they need to curb their ridiculous spending habits. As far as the parks go, they need to make sure a debacle like Galactic Starcruiser never happens again. I find it hard to believe that any idiot couldn’t have figured out why pricing families out of a family-oriented hotel was a bad idea, but these are the brain trusts Disney has on hand, so I can see why they need Joe Rohde to come back and show their designers a thing or two. And he’s more than earned being named a Disney Legend.

Comments (2)

March 26, 2024 at 7:06 pm

Seems like a positive move. You always wonder why there is not like a Guild system for animators. Also, would think that any talented animator with obvious skills and the teaching bug or teaching jones would be brought on.

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