A Main Street window is one of the highest Disney honors, recognizing those who have made significant contributions to Disney theme parks. A window generally uses the person’s name in connection with a fictional business or profession along with a word or phrase that alludes to the person’s contributions to the parks.
Tony Baxter’s window, located above the Main Street Magic shop, reads Main Street Marvels, Tony Baxter, Inventor, “Imagination is in the Heart of our Creations.” The sign acknowledges Baxter's long career as an Imagineer; the quote references “One Little Spark,” the Sherman Brothers song written for Epcot’s Journey Into Imagination pavilion – a project near-and-dear to Baxter’s heart.
Baxter's contributions to the Disney Parks were recognized during the Disneyland Main Street window ceremony, which was hosted by Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs, Walt Disney Imagineering Chief Creative Executive Bruce Vaugh and Disneyland President Michael Colglazier. The ceremony also was attended by other Disney Legends, Baxter's family members and friends, as well as the many Disney guests who are also Baxter fans.
Receiving a window on Main Street is an honor reserved for those who have made an indelible mark on Walt Disney Parks and Resorts,” said Staggs at the Main Street window ceremony. “It’s a subtle, yet significant in-park tribute to the people who have lent their talents, passion and creativity to making our parks and resorts a place where dreams become reality. Tony has taken us on some incredible journeys over the years and has amassed a remarkable legacy – one now marked with a tangible recognition of all his efforts."
Staggs mentioned some of those journeys, saying Baxter has taken Disney guests into the Old West, to space, and into imagination. The remark refers to Baxter's work an Imagineer with three iconic Disney attractions: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (opened in 1979), Star Tours (first version opened in 1987 and based on the "Star Wars" universe), and Journey Into Imagination (opened in 1982).
Baxter has been much more involved with Disney than that short list suggests. The former Senior Vice President of Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), Baxter has enjoyed a long and diverse history with The Walt Disney Company. His career began in 1965 at age 17, when he was a front-line Cast member at Disneyland. He worked his way up through the company's ranks and into WED Enterprises, which is now known as WDI, and was involved with the opening of Walt Disney World Resort in 1971.
Baxter also was centrally involved with – among other projects – in the remodeling of Disneyland's Fantasyland (1983); Disneyland Paris (1992); Splash Mountain (debuted in Disneyland, 1989); Indiana Jones Adventure (1995), Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (2007) and Fantasy Faire (2013).
The Disneyland Main Street window ceremony also provided a look at both Disney's past and its future. In speaking about Baxter's contributions, WDI Chief Creative Executive Bruce Vaughn called Baxter an "Imagineer's Imagineer" and, given his popularity with Disney fans, a character in his own right. Vaughn also said that "Imagineering is nothing without its next generation," noting how Baxter has mentored and continues to mentor future Imagineers.
In his own comments, Baxter also talked about the importance of mentorship after Walt died; Baxter himself was mentored first by Dr. Maxine Merlino, Dean of Fine Arts of California State Long Beach, and then by Disney Legend Claude Coats. Then he asked those he has mentored to stand and be recognized as the future of Disney. It was a fitting moment for a man many saw as the bridge between "old" Disney (the theme parks and resorts under Walt, with those who worked closely with him) and "new" Disney.
In February 2013, Baxter announced he would step down from his full-time role at WDI to become a part-time creative advisor and mentor to new Imagineers. He was officially recognized as a Disney Legend in August at the D23 Expo; that honor recognizes those who have made significant contributions to The Walt Disney Company.