Interview: X Atencio (Working in animation and writing for Disneyland and Disney World)

X Atencio with a replica of the Jolly Roger that he provides the voice for and wrote the dialogue for
X Atencio with a replica of the Jolly Roger that he provides the voice for and wrote the dialogue for

X Atencio began his Disney career in 1938 in animation, working as an assistant animator on “Pinocchio.” He went on to write dialogue for attractions such as the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Submarine Voyage in Disneyland and El Rio del Tiempo in Epcot, among others. X also wrote songs for many of the attractions he worked on including “Grim Grinning Ghosts” for the Haunted Mansion and “Yo Ho (A Pirates Life for Me)” for Pirates of the Caribbean. (Also, see more photos below.)

 

X Atencio stands by the tombstone tribute to him that used to reside outside the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, but is now in his home backyard
X Atencio stands by the tombstone tribute to him that used to reside outside the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, but is now in his home backyard
Disneyland vice president Norm Doerges, a boy from the audience, Pirates designers Marc Davis and X Atencio for the 25th anniversary of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in 1992
Disneyland vice president Norm Doerges, a boy from the audience, Pirates designers Marc Davis and X Atencio for the 25th anniversary of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in 1992

AUDIO INDEX
3:30 X’s start in Disney animation; attended Chouinard Art Institute; got a job at Disney in 1938 as an assistant animation to Woolie Reitherman, working on the Monstro scenes for “Pinocchio;” Worked on “Bongo” and then was drafted and went into the Signal Corps

14:01 Returning to the Disney Studios; Worked with Wooly Reitherman again, as an assistant animator on various shorts; did story sketch, storyboards on films; Working with Bill Justice on the “I’m No Fool” animated series of shorts, featuring Jiminy Cricket; Worked with Ward Kimball on the “pointy nose character” films, including the Academy Award-winning “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom”

16:51 Returning to work with Bill Justice working on stop-motion films such as “Noah’s Ark,” and a “Symposium on Popular Songs” and opening titles for films like “The Parent Trap” and “The Shaggy Dog” and the “Spoonful of Sugar” nursery scene in “Mary Poppins”; About stop-motion animation, a very tedious job

19:12 Working on the never-completed animated short on doodles with storyman Larry Clemmons; Called into Walt’s office to move over to WED (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering); Worked in the model shop with Claude Coats on the Primeval World diorama for the Disneyland Railroad;

21:29 Was asked by Walt to write the script for “Pirates of the Caribbean”; Walt had an uncanny ability to find talent in people; Worked on the auction scene first, and read books and the “Treasure Island” film to get inspiration for the pirate jargon

23:20 Becoming the voice of the Jolly Roger talking skull and crossbones; Also had a line in the auction scene on the bridge saying “Six bottles of rum!”; Writing “Yo Ho (A Pirates Life For Me)”; People perceiving graphic lyrics in the song; Used a thesaurus to come up with lyrics

26:55 Writing for rides is different than a fixed audience; Writing the script for Submarine Voyage attraction; The Haunted Mansion lobby dialogue; No storyline in the attractions, stories didn’t lend themselves to rides; The raven in the “Haunted Mansion” was going to be the original attraction narrator; X is heard in the spiel when the “Haunted Mansion” ride stops and in the coffin saying “Let me out of here?”

31:01 Adding Captain Jack Sparrow to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction and other changes; Translating the dialogue for Tokyo Disneyland

33:45 Writing the dialogue and song for El Rio del Tiempo in Epcot, “It’s Fun to Be Free” for World of Motion in Epcot, and “If You Had Wings” for the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

35:57 Remembering the day Walt Disney died, the type of person Walt was, and the first time X met Walt

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