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Marty Sklar Retires

Marty Sklar

Alain Littaye has broken the news that Imagineering legend and current “Imagineering Ambassador” Marty Sklar announced today his intention to retire. Sklar, in a letter to fellow Imagineers, stated that his last day with Imagineering will be July 17 – the anniversary of Disneyland’s opening. He has been working with the Walt Disney Company in various capacities for 53 years.

Sklar has a long and storied career with WDI, and is one of the few individuals remaining with the company to have worked closely alongside Walt Disney himself.

While a student at UCLA in 1955, Sklar was recruited before Disneyland’s opening to edit The Disneyland News, a souvenir newspaper that was sold in the park. After graduation in 1956 he joined the company full-time and helped to run the park’s publicity operations.

In 1961 Marty joined Imagineering – then called WED Enterprises – and became Walt’s personal speechwriter while also helping to recruit corporate sponsors for the 1964 World’s Fair. Many of the most famous speeches and television bits that Walt delivered in that era were written by Marty, including the famous EPCOT proposal film in 1966.

Sklar also helped develop attractions during this period, becoming Vice President of Concepts & Planning in 1974. While helping guide the creation of EPCOT Center he was named Vice President of Creative Development in 1979, and then Executive Vice President in 1982. Marty was Imagineering’s President and Vice Chairman from 1987 to 1996, and then became Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive. In 2006, on the heels of Imagineering’s 50th anniversary, Marty stepped down from his active role at WDI and became Imagineering’s official ambassador to the world. This was a largely ceremonial role, and I’m unsure how active Marty has been in day-to-day projects since.

While it’s understandable that after 53 years Marty might want to pack it in, it’s still sad to see him go. Regardless of what role he’s played recently, imagining WDI without him around is simply bizarre. Still, all things must pass and we wish Marty well. Keep in touch, ok?

UPDATE: Orlando Attractions Magazine has posted the text of Marty’s letter to his fellow Imagineers.

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5 comments to Marty Sklar Retires

  • So was Marty the last of the true WED core team o remain working for Disney?

  • I think probably so – I spent a while thinking about it when I wrote this, because I didn’t want to leave anyone out, but I couldn’t think of anyone. It’s hard to think of many from that group that are still with us at all. Off the top of my head, I think of Bob Gurr, George McGinnis, Alice Davis, Blaine Gibson… I guess Gurr and Gibson have at least worked on projects this decade. Then there are the greats like Hench that were with Disney to the very end. Marty’s the only one that opened all five resorts, though, and that’s really something. I can’t say I agree with everything he’s said in the last few years, but it’s hard to imagine WDI without him.

  • That’s really sad then that we’ve pretty much now seen the very last of WED trickle away…

  • Hopefully that’s a long, long way off. Marty deserves a long and happy retirement…

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