Monday, January 23, 2023

X Marks the Spot

 In it's golden age, Disney had a host of geniuses known as "Imagineers." These were people that were called upon personally by Walt Disney to create the experiences in his new Disneyland park. They often came from an artistic background, but were pushed into areas that they never knew they could do. The results were extraordinary to say the least! Some say the reason is that they were too na├»ve to know that they weren't supposed to be able to do what they did. They played fast and loose with the "rules of amusement parks" because they simply didn't know them. 

Now there might be a good deal of truth to that, but I think the real reason is that they were simply so creative that they were able to "change lanes" into other areas without much difficulty. In short- they were just that good. 

One of my favorite Imagineers (it's not nerdy to have a favorite, is it?) Is Xavier Atencio. He was an artist that suddenly found himself writing the script for The Pirate Ride (later called Pirates of the Caribbean) with no writing experience at all. But when Walt wants you to do something- you do it!

Later, X was responsible for the writing duties on The Haunted Mansion. Yep, he wrote the words for what I consider to be the top Imagineering accomplishments ever! And all the while doubting his own abilities.

I don't have many Imagineer autographs, but I do have two from Mr. Atencio. Here they are!

This is a signed print of some artwork that almost, but not quite, made it into the Mansion. The shadow piano player survived, but the other players had to find another side gig. 

And this is a signed 4x6 photo that I got a little artistic with. I printed the custom mat with lyrics from Grim Grinning Ghosts, which he wrote, of course.

These are on my office wall, along with my 1968 Disneyland map, a sliver of wood from Walt's first California workshop, and a signed picture from one of my other favorites:

Also Haunted Mansion (or Museum of the Weird) themed!

By the way, one thing that I really like about X Atencio is that in every interview I see of him, he just seems to be so darn nice! Unfortunately, I never got to meet him. He passed away in 2017. I remember being pretty sad that day. Still, his work continues to bring joy to millions, and I have a feeling he's still feeling good about that.

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!


  1. Wow! Stu, you have some terrific pieces in your collection!


    1. Thanks! I just try to keep my eyes open for interesting things (and good deals, lol!)

  2. WOW, I wish I had something signed by X Atencio! He was the real deal, one of Walt's guys - the kind who could do it all. What a career!


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