Legendary Disney animator 'X' Atencio dies at 98

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- Disney lost one of its legends: animator and writer Francis Xavier Atencio died Sunday at the age of 98.

You might not recognize his name, but you almost certainly know his work.

More than 400 million people have heard "yo ho, yo ho" while riding Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, but very few of them know the story behind it.

In the 1960s, Walt Disney himself asked "X" Atencio to write a script for the ride.

"I'd never done any scripting before and Walt said script and I scripted," Atencio said.

Atencio thought "Pirates" needed more than simply dialogue.

"I suggested to Walt, maybe it could use a song in it. He said, 'good idea,'" said Atencio.

Atencio's song and ride would go on to inspire one of the most successful film franchises of all time.

Atencio's way of thinking changed Disneyland itself forever.

"He really started a whole new career at Disney that was focused on storytelling through script writing and song writing," said Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald.

He contributed to Space Mountain's design, the Haunted Mansion and several other iconic rides.

Atencio worked for Disney from 1938 to 1984 and in addition to the theme parks, he worked on some of the most iconic Disney movies of all time.

He innovated on animation techniques in "Mary Poppins," and "Pinnocchio."

He was profoundly proud of his work.

The story goes, the day he got hired he ran to his aunt's house and said, "I got a job at Disney, I got a job at Disney!"

The 98-year-old husband, father and grandfather was especially happy seeing all the smiles on his rides.

"That's the joy of working on things like this," he said.
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