Leading Disney parks ‘Imagineer’ Martin Sklar, 83, dies in California

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Martin A. “Marty” Sklar, a right-hand man of Walt Disney and central figure in the development and expansion of his company’s theme parks around the world, has died.

Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown confirmed Sklar’s death for The Associated Press. He died Thursday at his Hollywood Hills home at age 83, a company statement says. No details were released on his cause of death.

“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy,” Sklar said in 2005, reading from a plaque at the front of the park.

“That says so much about what Walt intended here,” Sklar told the AP.

Sklar had roles in the development of every Disney park, from the original Disneyland in Southern California in 1955 to the Shanghai Disney Resort last year. He was revered by employees as a living link to the founder.

“Everything about Marty was legendary — his achievements, his spirit, his career,” Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “He embodied the very best of Disney, from his bold originality to his joyful optimism and relentless drive for excellence. He was also a powerful connection to Walt himself.”

Sklar early on condensed Walt Disney’s ideas into a widely circulated creed called “Mickey’s 10 Commandments,” which many considered key to the parks’ massive successes. He spelled them out in a 2015 book, “One Little Spark!”

They included:

• Know your audience.

• Organize the flow of people and ideas.

• Avoid overload.

• For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of fun.

Sklar was still a college student at UCLA when he was hired to create The Disneyland News for the original park and became a full-time Disney employee the following year.

Sklar retired in 2009. But he still was a frequent presence and ambassador at Disney events, including the company’s D23 Expo earlier this month.

He is survived by his wife, of 60 years, Leah, and son, Howard.Leading Disney parks ‘Imagineer’ Martin Sklar, 83, dies in California