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Disney's Animal Kingdom

Joe Rohde, Designer Of Animal Kingdom, Retires From Disney




After a illustrious 40-year career as a Disney Imagineer, Joe Rohde (65), has officially retired as of January 4th.

Born in Sacramento, CA and raised in Hawaii, Joe Rohde graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles before joining Disney’s Imagineering in 1980. At the beginning of his career, he was a model designer and scenic painter who worked in EPCOT as well as working as a designer on the refurbishment of Fantasyland in Disneyland. Joe also designed the Adventure Club at Pleasure Island.

Most notably, Joe was the lead designer on Disney’s Animal Kingdom which opened in 1998. When presenting the idea of the new animal-themed park, Rohde brought a 400-pound Bengal tiger into the meeting with Disney CEO Michael Eisner. Joe was heavily featured in ‘The Imagineering Story’ on Disney+ during the series coverage of the development of Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii

In his later years as an Imagineer, Rohde returned to his childhood home of Hawaii to design Disney’s Aulani Resort followed by being tasked with arguably Animal Kingdom’s biggest attraction, Pandora – The World of Avatar. The project took six years and was completed in 2017. Rodhe’s last large-scale project was repurposing the Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!

At 65, Rohde leaves behind a historic legacy with Disney Imagineering and a powerful personality displayed in the many documentaries and series he participated in during his career. Thank you Joe!

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