Marty Sklar, a Disney imagineer who supervised the design and construction of theme parks in Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong as well as Disney’s Animal Kingdom, California Adventure, and the Walt Disney Studios Park, died Thursday. He was 83.
“Everything about Marty was legendary — his achievements, his spirit, his career,” Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “He embodied the very best of Disney, from his bold originality to his joyful optimism and relentless drive for excellence. He was also a powerful connection to Walt himself. No one was more passionate about Disney than Marty and we’ll miss his enthusiasm, his grace, and his indomitable spirit.”
Sklar worked for Disney over 54 years, starting as an intern, through his retirement in 2009. Among his accomplishments, he helped design The Enchanted Tiki Room and It’s a Small World and spent a decade writing personal materials for Walt Disney himself. He became vice president of concepts/planning starting in 1974, eventually rising to the role of President of Imagineering, the department overseeing Disney Theme Parks and attractions.
Sklar guided development of Epcot, and oversaw development and construction of Tokyo Disneyland, Disney-MGM Studios, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, California Adventure, Tokyo DisneySea, Walt Disney Studios Park, and Hong Kong Disneyland. He stepped down as president of Imagineering in 2006 to become Disney’s International Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering. He retired fully from the company in 2009.
“Marty was one of Walt’s most trusted advisors and helped turn his most ambitious dreams into reality. For us, it’s hard to imagine a world without Marty, because Marty is synonymous with Imagineering,” said President of Imagineering Bob Weis in a statement. “His influence can be seen around the world, in every Disney park, and in the creative and imaginative work of almost every professional in the themed entertainment industry.”
Sklar was named a Disney Legend in 2001. He’s survived by his wife of 60 years, Leah, his son and daughter in law, his daughter, and four grandchildren.