Wathel Rogers

Wathel Rogers, a Walt Disney Imagineering “magician” whose animation credits include “Pinocchio,” “Cinderella” and “Peter Pan,” died Aug. 25 at his home in Arizona. He was 80.

Rogers, who was instrumental in many of WDI’s landmark innovations, first joined Disney Studios in 1939 as an animator before moving to Imagineering (then named WED Enterprises), where he co-founded the WED Model Shop in 1954.

After producing a series of architectural models for Disneyland, he worked with Walt Disney on “Project Little Man,” which led to the creation of Audio-Animatronics technology; and Rogers subsequently programmed Audio-Animatronic figures for the New York World’s Fair, Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Rogers was a Disney Imagineer whose projects included “The Enchanted Tiki Room,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Jungle Cruise” at Disney parks and whose other credits as an animator include “Bambi,” “Sleeping Beauty” and many of the “Donald Duck” shorts. He also served as art director for Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom after its opening.

He is survived by a daughter and a son.

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