Xavier Atencio, the Disney Imagineer who helped deliver to life iconic theme park points of interest comparable to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, died on Sunday. He had simply turned 98.
Often known as X Atencio, his legacy went past what guests seen on the rides. Along with 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 (music by George Bruns), and “Grim Grinning Ghosts” on the Haunted Mansion (music by Buddy Baker).
“Some might not know that when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Yo Ho’ he had by no means truly written a tune earlier than,” Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney Imagineering, stated in an announcement. “He merely proposed the concept of a tune for Pirates of the Caribbean, and Walt informed 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 motion pictures, together with “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia,” earlier than his profession was interrupted by World Conflict II, when he joined the Military Air Corps.
After the struggle, Atencio returned to Disney and lent his inventive skills to TV exhibits like “The Mickey Mouse Membership” and “Walt Disney’s Great World of Colour.” He additionally helped to create the stop-motion sequences within the title scene of the 1961 movie “The Mum or dad Entice” and within the “Spoonful of Sugar” scene within the 1964 film “Mary Poppins.”
Within the mid-1960s, Atencio’s profession modified course when Walt Disney referred to as him into his workplace and requested him to affix the Imagineering unit that created theme park points of interest.
“I went over there reluctantly as a result of I didn’t know what I used to be entering into, and no person there knew what I used to be purported to do both,” Atencio stated, in line with D23, the corporate fan membership. “A couple of month later I acquired a telephone name from Walt. He informed me ‘I need you to do the script for the Pirates of the Caribbean.’”
Atencio had by no means written a script earlier than the Pirates task.
“Walt had an uncanny capability of discovering expertise in his folks that we didn’t know we had ourselves,” he recalled in an interview final yr with the Mouse Clubhouse.
Pirates was the final journey that Disney would immediately supervise. Disney died on December 15, 1966, simply three months earlier than the attraction opened. However Atencio helped him to expertise it in a approach.
In an interview with D23, Atencio recalled:
“We mocked it up on a soundstage in full dimension and we pushed Walt by means of it, we rigged up a cart that moved about the identical tempo the boat would and we moved him by means of and we had the Auctioneer up right here and he stated, ‘What do ye supply this buxom wench?’ and on the opposite aspect a pirate yells, ‘Six bottles of rum, etcetera, etcetera.’ However it was exhausting to listen to, and I stated, ‘I’m sorry Walt you possibly can’t hear stuff too clearly.’ And he stated, ‘When you go to a cocktail get together you tune in on one dialog, and then you definately tune in on that one. Each time they arrive by means of they’ll see one thing new.’ And I assumed, ‘Why the heck didn’t I consider that?’”
After Pirates, Atencio penned the dialogue for the Haunted Mansion journey in addition to its signature tune.
Whereas most of the rides Atencio labored on had been later modified and up to date, his voice can nonetheless be heard in a number of locations, 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 right here!”
Within the Disneyland model of the Pirates journey, Atencio’s voice nonetheless greets friends as a speaking cranium that seems earlier than the drop.
“Pssst! Avast there,” the cranium calls out. “Or not it’s too late to change course.”
Atencio’s cranium additionally has one of many journey’s most well-known traces: “Mark effectively me phrases, mateys: Useless males inform no tales.”
On the east coast at Walt Disney World, Atencio labored on the If You Had Wings and House Mountain rides on the Magic Kingdom together with three points of interest at Epcot: Spaceship Earth, World of Movement and the Mexico pavilion.
Though he retired in 1984, Atencio remained with the corporate as a marketing consultant and was a preferred speaker at each Disney occasions and expos. He was named a Disney Legend in 1996.
“X was an unlimited expertise who helped outline so a lot of our greatest experiences world wide,” stated Weis. “His good work continues to encourage Imagineers and convey pleasure to tens of millions of friends yearly.”