Glenn W. Durflinger, Jr. may have not been the most well-known Imagineer, but his work, from the early days of Walt Disney World and Epcot Center, to his role as project designer on Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, speaks volumes. He passed away on August 30th, at the age of 79.
Durflinger joined Disney in 1965, where his early projects included serving as draftsman and job captain on the creation of New Orleans Square and the 1967 refurbishment of Tomorrowland in Disneyland. His talents ultimately led him to work on the development of Walt Disney World, where he was an assistant project designer on the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland and Cinderella’s Castle. He ascended to project designer on two of the Disney parks’ most iconic thrill rides: Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. On Space Mountain, Durflinger calculated the geometry and resolved structural issues, allowing the ride to become one of the most thrilling experiences in Walt Disney World and a beloved fan favorite.
Alastair Dallas remembered Durflinger in an interview with Laughing Place: “Architectural designers at Disney have always been individuals ranging from Hollywood set designers to real world architects to people who were more properly called engineers. Glenn was one of the latter–he shocked the younger architecture types by using a mechanical drafting arm on his board.”
Very sad to report the passing of WDI architectural designer Glenn Durflinger, left, who gave final form to the original Space Mountains. Glenn cut his teeth on projects like New Orleans Sq & Cinderella Castle. He was quiet, smart & unassuming…much more talented than he let on! pic.twitter.com/Fju4epHJLT
— Tom K Morris (@TomKMorris) September 3, 2018
Durflinger would go on to serve as Director of Architecture for Epcot Center, where he managed all architectural and show set production, as well as interior, graphic, and landscaping design for the park. He later served as a project designer for Disney-MGM Studios, facility design director for Mickey’s ToonTown in Disneyland, and worked on Hong Kong Disneyland before his retirement in 2003. He also was instrumental in the creation of the Show Quality Standards department at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, which maintains the original art direction for attractions throughout the Disney parks. He was honored by the Disneyana Fan Club in 2006.