Legendary Imagineer Honored With First Ever Conservation Legacy Award

Joe Rohde
Credit: Disney

When it comes to conservation efforts, one of the major players in the game is Disney. Walt Disney was famous for protecting the environment. He even ensured that a certain amount of Walt Disney World would never be developed, so the wetlands could be protected. Over the years, Disney has gotten even more involved in conservation. There is no better place to see those conservation efforts than at Animal Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney World solar panels

Credit: ClickOrlando

Animal Kingdom opened in 1998 and truly pays homage to the beauty of the world. Guests can walk through areas where they can observe incredible animals like Silverback gorillas. They can see hundreds of varieties of birds. And one of the most popular attractions in the Park is Kilimanjaro Safaris — which takes Guests on an exciting ride through the savanna. On the safari, Guests get up close and personal with giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinos, and more.

Tree of Life

Credit: Disney

The key creative mind behind the development of Animal Kingdom Park is legendary Disney Imagineer, Joe Rohde. Rohde worked as an Imagineer for decades, joining Disney in the 1980s as a model designer and scenic painter for EPCOT’s Mexico pavilion. From there, Rohde grew within the company, eventually designing iconic locations and attractions like the Disney Vacation Club in Hawaii and Expedition Everest. Rohde was also the principal creator of Pandora: The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom.

Joe Rohde Animal Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Disney recently honored Rohde and his work in conservation by giving him the first-ever Conservation Legacy Award. Disney Parks Blog shared more information about why Joe was honored with the prestigious award.

Our second Conservation Legacy Award celebrates Joe, whose inspiration and engagement on the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Advisory Board helped make the Disney Conservation Fund possible (more in our book, Carrying Forward a Conservation Legacy). In recognition of Joe’s legacy and his unique contributions to global conservation efforts through creativity and imagination, we recognized an artist, Fernando Ayerbe, as a Disney Conservation Hero for his dedication to using art to advance conservation efforts, honor cultures and inspire others to save wildlife in Colombia.

joe Rohde Pandora

Credit: Disney

Rohde designed Animal Kingdom as a Park where Guests could not only have a great time, but also where brilliant scientists and veterinarians can work together to save at-risk species. Over the years, Disney has seen the birth of a number of animals, including hippos, zebras, white rhinos, and more. Animal Kingdom is continuously working to save endangered populations and always has that as one of its primary objectives.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!