Joseph "Joe" Rohde is a veteran executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, the division of The Walt Disney Company that designs and builds Disney's theme parks and resort hotels. Rohde's formal title is Executive Designer and Vice President, Creative.
He was born in Sacramento, California and raised in Hawaii. He graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory, Canoga Park, Calif., in 1973, where he starred in student dramatic productions. Rohde received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Occidental College in Los Angeles.
Rohde's trademark is a large collection of earrings he wears in his left ear, all of which are souvenirs from decades of travel to remote corners of the world.
Career at Walt Disney Imagineering
Rohde is the lead designer of Disney's Animal Kingdom, one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and the principal creative force behind the park's Expedition Everest thrill ride, which debuted in 2006. He is also one of the lead designers behind the new Disney Vacation Club property Aulani in Oʻahu, Hawaii. He was chosen for the role because of his experience with the Island and its native people, having grown up in Hawaii.
Rohde joined Imagineering in 1980 during the development of Epcot as a model designer and scenic painter for the theme park's Mexico pavilion. He later worked as a designer on the refurbishment of Fantasyland at Disneyland, the Captain EO 3-D film attraction starring singer Michael Jackson, the Norway pavilion at Epcot and the Adventurers Club, a 1930s-themed bar and lounge that opened in 1989 within the Pleasure Island entertainment district at Walt Disney World Resort.
Rohde was featured in an April 2006 Travel Channel documentary titled Expedition Everest: Journey to Sacred Lands. The program was produced by Discovery Networks during expeditions to China and Nepal in 2005 called Mission Himalayas. The treks were sponsored by Disney, Discovery and Conservation International to promote the Expedition Everest theme park attraction and conduct scientific and cultural research in remote areas of the Himalayas. Rohde served as the model for Harrison Hightower, the owner of the fictional "Hightower Hotel" which houses the Tower of Terror attraction at Tokyo DisneySea in Tokyo, Japan.
- Joe Rohde Online, News and facts.
- Interview with Joe Rohde about Expedition Everest from CoasterRadio.com
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