Disney Legend and Walt Disney Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar announced in a letter to all Imagineers last Friday that he would be retiring from his current position of “international ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering” effective July 17. Marty’s retirement will mark the end of an era as he is one of the last Imagineers to know Walt Disney personally.
Marty was formerly vice president of concepts and planning for the company, before being promoted to president, and then eventually taking the position of vice chairman and principal creative executive of the company before his current role.
Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Marty was a student at UCLA and editor of its Daily Bruin newspaper in 1955 when he was recruited to create The Disneyland News, a tabloid newspaper set in 1890 that was sold on Main Street, U.S.A. After graduating, he joined Disneyland full-time in 1956, where he held responsibility for most of the park’s publicity and marketing materials.
In 1961, he moved to WED Enterprises, renamed in 1986 to Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), where he worked on attractions for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Among the attractions he helped to design during this period were The Enchanted Tiki Room and It’s a Small World. For nearly 10 years, he wrote personal materials for Walt Disney for use in publications, television and special films. In 1974 he became vice president of concepts/planning, and guided the creative development of EPCOT Center (now known as Epcot) at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort.
As vice president of creative development, executive vice president and then president of Imagineering for nine years, Sklar supervised the design and construction of Tokyo Disneyland, the Disney-MGM Studios, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s California Adventure, Tokyo DisneySea, the Walt Disney Studios Park and most recently Hong Kong Disneyland. Former Disneyland International chairman Jim Cora later said of him, “He understands the Disney way because he learned it at Walt’s knee. He is the keeper of the keys, the conscience, the Jiminy Cricket for the organization.”
In February 2006, the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Jay Rasulo, announced that Sklar would resign from his current position and take up the new position of international ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering. The occupation entails traveling around to art and design and architecture colleges, universities and other institutions around the world, offering seminars and attracting new talent to the company, as well as being a presence at future attraction and park openings, representing the company.It is this position that he will retire from on July 17 of this year.
One very interesting fact about Marty is that he is the only cast member to have had an active role in the opening of all 11 Disney theme parks to date. He was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) in 1995, and has been inducted into the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Hall of Fame. Marty Sklar is truly a living piece of Disney history and will be missed greatly. He’s now working on a book about his career at Disney.
Photo copyright Disney.