It didn't take Joe Rohde long to find a new gig, did it?
The long-time Disney Imagineer - who last year announced his January "retirement" from Walt Disney Imagineering today was announced as the first "Experience Architect" for Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic is British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson's venture to send tourists into space on suborbital flights. Its VSS Unity has reached an altitude of more than 55 miles in a test flight from Virgin Galactic's New Mexico spaceport, crossing the 50-mile threshold that the United States considers the boundary between the atmosphere and space.
"This is one of the most profound things that can happen to you. To go beyond the reaches of the Earth, to space, and look back down at it. It’s a spectacularly unique opportunity with huge potential for transformational change in a person," Rohde said in a press release issued by the company. "What Virgin Galactic is doing, in democratizing space travel, has reached a moment where it is about to enter history. It’s happening right here in New Mexico, and it’s very rare to be a person who gets to be in the place, at the time, that history begins."
Throughout the industry, Rohde has been known for his scholarly view of themed entertainment design. While at Disney, Rohde oversaw the development of some of the company's most acclaimed attractions, including Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park, the Aulani resort in Hawaii, Pandora The World of Avatar, and most recently Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout.
Rohde was hired by Virgin Galactic's CEO - former Disneyland President Michael Colglazier.
As soon as I joined Virgin Galactic, I knew there was one person we just had to work with to help shape the incredible experience we are developing – and that person was Joe Rohde," Colglazier said. "Joe has a methodology that is unique, inspired, and truly effective. His track record for keeping authenticity central to the design and creating deeply transformative experiences aligns perfectly with our mission. I couldn’t be more pleased to see Joe choose Virgin Galactic for his first encore!"
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