One of my favorite parts of doing this podcast is learning stories about the people that created Disney’s theme parks. Their paths to reach Walt Disney Imagineering are always so different. A perfect example is Chris Runco, who started as a portrait artist at Disneyland in 1970. Six years later, he joined WDI in the model shop alongside legendary Imagineers. His skills as an artist led him to a remarkable career of more than 45 years with Disney.
Chris joins me on this episode of The Tomorrow Society Podcast to talk about his background and work at Disney. EPCOT Center was just getting started when Chris arrived. He worked on the models and was closely involved with classic attractions like World of Motion. Chris also had the chance to interact with amazing designers like Marc Davis. His stories are fascinating and show the importance of those mentors. Chris also worked on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad during the late ’70s.
One of Chris’ most exciting projects was the original Star Tours in the mid-’80s. He designed robot characters for that attraction, including droids for the queue. Chris also created the pilot RX-24, memorably voiced by Paul Reubens. The look of this rookie on his first flight came from a wide range of sources, including junk found anywhere. Chris describes the full design process and what it took to bring RX-24 to life. He also explains what it’s like to see his creation in Oga’s Cantina at Galaxy’s Edge today.