Ron Dominguez, Disney Executive Whose Family Sold Anaheim Property for Disneyland, Dies at 85

Ron Dominguez, a former executive vice president of Walt Disney Attractions, died on Jan. 1. He was 85.

Dominguez was known as a “native Disneylander,” as his family owned and lived on the 10-acre Anaheim property that was purchased by Walt Disney in 1954 to build Disneyland.

“Our house was located right about where the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and Cafe Orleans are today,” Dominguez once said, according to D23. “The day we moved out, in August of 1954, we were walking in ditches and holes. Things were popping up around us because construction had to move ahead. They built Disneyland in a year.”

Born on Aug. 10, 1935, Dominguez grew up on the property, which the family had inherited from his grandfather, who originally purchased the land in the late 1800s. Dominguez then attended the University of Arizona, where he studied business administration. On July 13, 1955 — a few days before Disneyland opened its doors — Dominguez got a summer job as a ticket taker at the park.

Dominguez eventually became the temporary supervisor of Main Street, U.S.A, and even worked as a cast member, dressing up as Davey Crockett. He went on to supervise Frontierland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland, and in 1962 became the general supervisor of Disneyland’s west side. Later that year, he was promoted to manager.

Dominguez continued to rise up the ranks of the park’s administration, becoming director of operations in 1970 and vice president of Disneyland and chairman of the park operating committee in 1974. In 1990, he became executive vice president of Walt Disney Attractions, West Coast.

In 1994, Dominguez retired after 39 years at the Walt Disney Company. In 2000, he was named a Disney Legend, and was given a window on Main Street, U.S.A.

“We are saddened to have lost a very dear member of our family, Ron Dominguez,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products in a statement to D23. “Ron’s contributions to Disneyland are nearly incalculable. He was well-known among the cast and community throughout his tenure at the park and continued to show his support long after his retirement, guiding and mentoring leaders, including me, for decades. I am personally grateful for all that he has done for Disney, and want to express my deepest condolences to his family on behalf of every Disney Parks cast member around the world.”

Dominguez is survived by his wife of 41 years, Betty, and three children from a previous marriage, Sheryl Ralston, Steve Dominguez and Ronald K. Dominguez Jr, as well as his grandchildren.

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