Leadership change at Walt Disney Imagineering ahead of move to Florida

Walt Disney Imagineering will have a new president in 2022, as company veteran Bob Weis announced on Tuesday he would step down to make way for Barbara Bouza, who only joined Imagineering in June 2020.

Weis worked in the division responsible for the creation of Disney theme parks in two separate periods, the first from 1980 to 1994 and the second from 2008 to the present day. His resume includes work at Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, and directing creative development and design for the Shanghai Disney Resort. He assumed the role of president in 2016.

In a letter announcing the change in leadership to the staff at Imagineering, Weis wrote:

“As imaginers, we are inspired by our history and by those who helped shape it. Disney legend Marty Sklar – who was a close friend and mentor to me – was a visionary leader at Imagineering for over five decades and ultimately became our Global Imagineering Ambassador. In this role, Marty was able to invest in our heritage as a way to build our future, to guide and defend our talents, to recruit the next generations of imaginaries and to help record our history through his writings. Today, I am delighted to announce that I will follow Marty’s lead and take on the role of Imagineering Global Ambassador starting next year.

“I am confident about the transition to this role now after working with Barbara Bouza for the past 16 months and knowing that Imagineering’s future is secure under her leadership. Barbara has taken on more and more responsibilities during her tenure, and I am continually impressed with her talent, leadership and the relationships she has already established within our company. I am also very grateful to have the full support of Josh D’Amaro, who has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to Imagineering and his belief that WDI is essential to the future and overall success of our business.

Bouza joined WDI in June 2020 after serving as Co-Managing Director of the architectural firm Gensler Los Angeles. At Imagineering, she served as President of Business Operations, Design and Delivery. She has also held a number of outside positions, including a seat on the board of directors of Imagine LA, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent homelessness and help families secure stable housing.

Handing over the reins of the legendary Disney creative division to someone who has only been with the company for 18 months is just the latest reshuffle since Bob Chapek became CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

Like other segments of Disney, Imagineering has fired hundreds of employees in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last November, Joe rohde chose to retire after 40 years in the company.

The most dramatic change was announced in July, when Disney announced it would move most of Imagineering’s jobs to a new campus in the Lake Nona community in Orlando. Real estate agents said WKMG earlier this month that workers are already buying homes, but at least one fantasy veteran, Kevin Lively, decided leave the company rather than move.

As for Weis’ departure, an unnamed former imaginative said The Envelope that there is “no safe ground on which to stand” within WDI.

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