This news comes with a heavy heart as we have come to love and know Joe through the years and even more so on the imagineering story on Disney+. His award winning and 40-year career with The Walt Disney Company will be ending in January, The Walt Disney Imagineering Instagram made the announcement this morning with this statement, “After an illustrious 40-year Imagineering career, Joe Rohde just shared his plan to retire on Jan. 4, 2021. We can’t thank Joe enough for his infectious passion, being an incredible teacher and mentor, and for inspiring generations of Disney Imagineers and guests from around the world. Wishing @JoeRohde all the best in his next journey and on the many, many more adventures yet to come.”
If you have not followed his career Joe worked as an imagineer doing model design for Epcot and throughout his time he built an amazing career with the company, here are just a few of the projects he worked on. Expedition Everest, Pandora World of Avatar, Aulani, and so many more! Later on today Joe Rohde made his own statement that brought me personally to tears.
“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.”
He has been a leader and an inspiration to this company for so many years and although it is time to say goodbye really it is just see you real soon! The magic will live on forever with his work as it will be on display for many more years to come. We want to thank you for your service to the Mouse and creating Magical places for us to explore and see. Joe your lasting impression will be here forever. You shared your vision, your passion and your mind with us and we cannot thank you enough!