Joe Rohde Announces Retirement


The driving force behind projects like Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa and Disney's Animal Kingdom plans to retire in early 2021. 

Joe Rohde at D23 Expo

Joe Rohde Discusses Aulani at D23 Expo

After 40 years with The Walt Disney Company, Imagineer Joe Rohde will retire effective January 4, 2021. 

In an Instagram post, Rohde described his current working status as a "strange quiet time" between projects. Rohde speculated that should he delay his retirement "...I will once again be in the middle of another huge project and by the time that is done, I would be truly old."

Rohde's career began at age 25, working as a model designer on EPCOT.  He was a lead designer on Disney's Animal Kingdom and would return to the park frequently during his tenure with contributions like Expedition Everest .

In 2007 Rohde was put in charge of development on Aulani, the Disney Vacation Club resort located in Oahu, Hawaii. Born in Sacramento, California, Rohde moved to Hawaii where his father worked as a cameraman on television and film productions on the islands. This familiarity with Hawaiian culture would play a key role in his assignment to the Aulani project. At the resort's 2011 opening, Rohde stated: “We want this resort destination to reflect the vibrant culture that surrounds it. We believe in artistry, in excellence, and in the beauty of a well-done thing.  Our commitment to excellence mirrors the cultural values one sees in the arts of Hawaii.” 

Rohde's next project was a return to Disney's Animal Kingdom where he worked with director James Cameron to bring Pandora - The World of Avatar to life. The expansion debuted in 2017, drawing near universal acclaim and re-energizing the park. 

Bob Weis, President Walt Disney Imagineering praised Rohde's career with the company. "His unyielding commitment to excellence across all aspects of projects, and his demand for authenticity and including diverse, indigenous cultures in design and production, are hallmarks of his projects and what differentiate them from all others."