Disney is losing another fabulous Imagineer as Kevin Rafferty is retiring from the Walt Disney Company after 42 years. Kevin recently gave an interview with the D23 reflecting on his long career with the Disney Company.
Recently another prominent Disney Imagineer has announced his retirement: Joe Rohde. You can read more about Rohde’s retirement after he completed 4o years with Walt Disney Imagineering here.
But today we want to focus on Kevin Rafferty, who recently spoke to D23 about his career. He stated that his final day will be April 1, 2021, and it is not an April fool’s joke. While he started as a dishwasher at Disneyland, he went on to move up in the company and was able to help create iconic parts of Disney theme parks. If you are a Disney fan you have Kevin to thank for Cars Land, Toy Story Midway Mania! Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and much more.
He goes on to say:
“When I started, there were only two Disney parks in the world. It’s really been my honor, my pleasure, and my joy to be around and watch the expansion of the magic that Walt Disney Imagineering has made,” he says. “I’ve been there for all that. It’s been an amazing ride.”
Rafferty went on, reflecting on his time working on arguably one of his biggest most ambitious projects, Cars Land:
“When I was washing dishes, I used to park my car in the cast member parking lot in about the exact same location where the courthouse sits now in Cars Land. Who would have ever in a million years dreamed that I’d have the honor and privilege—and daunting responsibility—to help create something that went in that very spot? And then, that close by would be Twilight Zone Tower of Terror [now Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!] in the same parking lot? It hit me like a ton of bricks. I went back to my dish room days, thinking, Somebody wake me up. This can’t really be happening. Cars Land will obviously always, always have a special place in my heart. It is so epic. There are more than 280,000 square feet of hand-sculpted and hand-painted rockwork, and I see all of the blood, sweat, and tears and love that went into that land and how it evolved and how it really happened.”
He continues to say that staying positive is the key to success and happiness:
“You can’t make fun unless you’re having fun yourself.’ I’ve always been very optimistic and very positive. I’ve never been negative—ever—about anything. How can anything good come out of negativity? Don’t talk yourself into thinking you can’t do something, believe that you can.”
Imagineer Zach Riddley posted an appreciation photo for Rafferty in front of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, an attraction Rafferty spearheaded. It is clear Kevin will be gravely missed at Imagineering.
Have you heard a good joke lately? Something that just makes you smile? Kevin Rafferty is one of the Imagineers I can always count on to bring humor and heart to our work. And boy has Kevin been busy over this 42 years at Walt Disney Imagineering. Kevin’s role as a writer, creative director and leader has literally changed the course of history at Walt Disney World Resort. Just look at the line-up of classic experiences Kevin has been a part of including Typhoon Lagoon, Pleasure Island, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Muppet*Vision 3D, Blizzard Beach, Test Track, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, It’s Tough to be a Bug!, Mickey’s PhilharMagic , Toy Story Mania!….. and most recently, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Wow!! And that’s not even all of them!
One ingredient that binds all of these experiences together is heart. Kevin advocates for the very best story we can deliver for generations of Disney fans who get to experience these timeless attractions – through courage, commitment and positivity. He makes you believe in his vision and he brings confidence in the team to reach further and reach deeper to deliver that magic Disney is known for.
People ask me often, how does the magic happen. It’s because of Imagineers like Kevin and the passion they pour into projects.
We love the ending note of positivity and we are sad to see Kevin go, however, he leaves behind a legacy of incredible theme park experiences and attractions fans can enjoy for years to come!
What do you think about Kevin Rafferty’s retirement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!