Joe Rohde is a name that most Disney fans initially equate with incredible worlds built for The Walt Disney Company. Throughout the course of his four decade career with the company, he helped bring to life Disney’s Animal Kingdom and then later Pandora – The World of Avatar. He also was instrumental with Disney’s Aulani in Hawaii, among other places including Disney California Adventure’s Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout! Now, Rohde is taking on a new adventure with Virgin Galactic Holdings as their Experience Architect.
In this new role, Rohde will not just be creating a fictional experience from space as he did with Pandora, he’ll be strategically advising Virgin Galactic as they create the experience that future astronauts, friends, family, and even fans of this new endeavor.
This is the first time someone will hold the role of Experience Architect for Virgin Galactic. He recently shared about his new role with Street Insider saying, “I spent 40 years with Walt Disney Imagineering and that word, ‘Imagineering,’ refers to the fusion of imagination and engineering. This means I’ve come from a tradition where if you are imagining something, you are imagining that thing is going to be made real. That’s also been going on here at Virgin Galactic, and I’m delighted to be joining at this incredible moment in time when it is about to blossom into public awareness.”
Rohde continued, “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…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.’’
Joe Rohde isn’t the only former Disney employee to join Virgin Galactic. In fact, Michael Colglazier who most recently was the managing director of Disney Parks International, is now the CEO of Virgin Galactic. Colglazier said, “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. 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!’’
In this role, Rohde will be tasked with creating a customer experience that provides both purpose and meaning. He also is joining at the dawn of a new era of space travel. Rohde has always been on the cutting edge of new ideas and in this new role, he will continue to do so.
What do you think of Virgin Galactic hiring Joe Rohde as their first Experience Architect? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!
UPDATE: Joe Rohde is also joined at Virgin Galactic by former Imagineer Amy Jupiter who posted the following on LinkedIn today: “Joe and i have launched on a new adventure with Virgin Galactic! Super excited to join Michael and the team on this journey!”