Former Disney Imagineer and animator Xavier “X” Atencio died on Sunday at the Age of 98. Also known as X Atencio, he was responsible for bringing some of the most iconic Disney park rides to life including “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Haunted Mansion.” He was also worked as an animator that worked on the classic films Pinocchio and Fantasia. Disney announced the news on their D23 account today.
Atencio was born in Walsenburg Colorado on September 4, 1919 and moved to Los Angeles in 1937. He attended Chouinard Art Institute and after some encouragement from his instructors, he submitted a portfolio to Disney and got a job at the age of 18.
He first worked on the 1940 animated classic Pinocchio and was then promoted to assistant animator for another would-be Disney classic Fantasia the same year. He left temporarily to join the Army Air Corps but returned in 1945 and worked on animated shorts inlcuding Plunk and Boom which won an Oscar in 1953. His other credits included stop motion animated sequences featured in live-action Disney pics The Parent Trap, Babes in Toyland, and Mary Poppins.
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After working in animation, Walt Disney himself requested that he be transferred to the Imagineering department, which was then called WED Entertprises. It was here where he played the key role in the Pirates of the Caribbean experience, co-writing the iconic song, “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” and writing the dialogue and the song “Grim Grinning Ghosts” for the Haunted Mansion ride. He is also credited with working on many other favorite Disney attractions including Space Mountain, Spaceship Earth, World of Motion and the Mexico pavilion at Epcot.
He retired in 1984 and was inducted as Disney Legend in 1996 alongside Rex Allen, Betty Lou Gerson, Bill Justice, and others.
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