Disney Legend X Atencio, Who Helped Create Pirates And Haunted Mansion, Dead At 98

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Xavier Atencio, the Disney Imagineer who helped convey to lifestyles iconic theme park points of interest reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, died on Sunday. He had simply became 98.

Known as X Atencio, his legacy went past what guests seen at the rides. In addition to the scripts for the Pirates and the Haunted Mansion points of interest, he additionally wrote the lyrics to their memorable songs: “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life)” on Pirates (tune by means of George Bruns), and “Grim Grinning Ghosts” at the Haunted Mansion (tune by means of Buddy Baker).

“Some may not know that when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Yo Ho’ he had never actually written a song before,” Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney Imagineering, stated in a observation. “He simply proposed the idea of a tune for Pirates of the Caribbean, and Walt told him to go and do it.” 

Born Francis Xavier Atencio on Sept. four, 1919, he joined Disney in 1939 and labored on a number of films, together with “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia,” sooner than his occupation used to be interrupted by means of World War II, when he joined the Army Air Corps.

After the struggle, Atencio returned to Disney and lent his inventive abilities to TV presentations like “The Mickey Mouse Club” and “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.” He additionally helped to create the stop-motion sequences within the identify scene of the 1961 movie “The Parent Trap” and within the “Spoonful of Sugar” scene within the 1964 film “Mary Poppins.” 

In the mid-1960s, Atencio’s occupation modified direction when Walt Disney known as him into his place of work and requested him to sign up for the Imagineering unit that created theme park points of interest.

“I went over there reluctantly because I didn’t know what I was getting into, and nobody there knew what I was supposed to do either,” Atencio stated, in line with D23, the corporate fan membership. “About a month later I got a phone call from Walt. He told me ‘I want you to do the script for the Pirates of the Caribbean.’”

Atencio had by no means written a script sooner than the Pirates project. 

“Walt had an uncanny ability of finding talent in his people that we didn’t know we had ourselves,” he recalled in an interview ultimate 12 months with the Mouse Clubhouse. 

Pirates used to be the ultimate trip that Disney would immediately supervise. Disney died on December 15, 1966, simply 3 months sooner than the appeal opened. But Atencio helped him to revel in it in some way. 

In an interview with D23, Atencio recalled:

“We mocked it up on a soundstage in full size and we pushed Walt through it, we rigged up a cart that moved about the same pace the boat would and we moved him through and we had the Auctioneer up here and he said, ‘What do ye offer this buxom wench?’ and on the other side a pirate yells, ‘Six bottles of rum, etcetera, etcetera.’ But it was hard to hear, and I said, ‘I’m sorry Walt you can’t hear stuff too clearly.’ And he said, ‘If you go to a cocktail party you tune in on one conversation, and then you tune in on that one. Every time they come through they’ll see something new.’ And I thought, ‘Why the heck didn’t I think of that?’”

After Pirates, Atencio penned the discussion for the Haunted Mansion trip in addition to its signature tune. 

While lots of the rides Atencio labored on had been later changed and up to date, his voice can nonetheless be heard in different puts, particularly in Disneyland.

When the Haunted Mansion breaks down, it’s Atencio who tells riders that “playful spooks have interrupted our tour.”  

It’s additionally his voice crying out from a coffin: “Let me out of here!”

In the Disneyland model of the Pirates trip, Atencio’s voice nonetheless greets visitors as a speaking cranium that looks sooner than the drop. 

“Pssst! Avast there,” the cranium calls out. “It be too late to alter course.” 

Atencio’s cranium additionally has some of the trip’s most famed traces: “Mark well me words, mateys: Dead men tell no tales.”  

On the east coast at Walt Disney World, Atencio labored at the If You Had Wings and Space Mountain rides on the Magic Kingdom together with 3 points of interest at Epcot: Spaceship Earth, World of Motion and the Mexico pavilion.

Although he retired in 1984, Atencio remained with the corporate as a specialist and used to be a well-liked speaker at each Disney occasions and expos. He used to be named a Disney Legend in 1996.

“X was an enormous talent who helped define so many of our best experiences around the world,” stated Weis. “His brilliant work continues to inspire Imagineers and bring joy to millions of guests every year.”


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