Growing up in Southern California, Baxter started his career at Disneyland at the age of 17, scooping ice cream on Main Street, U.S.A.. After several years of odd jobs at the park, he garnered attention through a portfolio of attraction concepts and was hired at WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering). His first project roles were relatively minor, but he was eventually given extensive creative control of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. After this, he continued to be assigned high-level roles in Imagineering projects.
He retired from the company in 2013, but continues to be a consultant for future Imagineering projects.
In 2013, Baxter was inducted as a Disney Legend. In a presentation ceremony at Disneyland on November 1, 2013, Baxter was honored with a Window on Main Street, U.S.A. The window, seen above the Magic Shop on Main Street, reads: Main Street Marvels Tony Baxter, Inventor Imagination is at the heart of our Creations
Projects that Baxter was responsible for include:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- The 1983 re-design of Disneyland's Fantasyland
- The original Journey Into Imagination pavilion
- The Disney Gallery
- Splash Mountain
- Disneyland Paris
- Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye
- The 1998 re-design of Disneyland's Tomorrowland
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
- The 2008 re-design of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
- The 2009 incarnation of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
Never-built projects that Tony personally supervised include a re-design of Disneyland's Tomorrowland called Tomorrowland 2055 and a new land for Disneyland called Discovery Bay. (However, Discovery Bay was a source of inspiration for Discoveryland--Disneyland Paris' version of Tomorrowland.)