Francis Xavier ‘X’ Atencio, Disney Animator and Imagineer, Dies at 98

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Francis Xavier ‘X’ Atencio

Atencio worked on 'Pinocchio' and 'Fantasia' and helped bring to life Disney Parks attractions including The Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.

Francis Xavier “X” Atencio, a longtime Disney animator and Imagineer, died Sunday, Disney confirmed. He was 98.

Atencio helped bring to life such attractions as the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion to the Disney Parks and early in his career worked on the 1940 animated classics Fantasia and Pinocchio

He also did animation for Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom (1953), the Oscar-nominated films Noah's Ark (1959), A Symposium on Popular Songs (1962) and Jack and Old Mac (1956) and provided the stop-motion sequences for The Parent Trap (1961), Babes in Toyland (1961) and Mary Poppins (1964).

Walt Disney asked him to write the script for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, and he co-wrote the song "Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)."

“X was an enormous talent who helped define so many of our best experiences around the world,” Walt Disney Imagineering president Bob Weis said Monday in a statement. “Some may not know that when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Yo Ho’ he had never actually written a song before. He simply proposed the idea of a tune for Pirates of the Caribbean, and Walt told him to go and do it. That was how X worked — with an enthusiastic, collaborative attitude, along with a great sense of humor. His brilliant work continues to inspire Imagineers and bring joy to millions of guests every year.”

Atencio retired from Disney in 1984 but continued as an Imagineering consultant for many years and was named a Disney Legend in 1996. 

His great nephew, Peter Atencio, directed the Key & Peele movie Keanu (2016).