A major shakeup at the Walt Disney Company’s Imagineering division has lead to the company appointing Bob Weis as the head of Walt Disney Imagineering. The move comes after announcement that current WDI head, Bruce Vaughn is leaving the company. The company is aiming to bring major new attractions to all of the parks all across the globe, and is looking to break new ground as companies like Universal are steadily gaining new ground with major projects like Harry Potter, and King Kong.
Bob Weis is now the head of Walt Disney Imagineering, after a long career which includes being the creative lead for Disney’s Hollywood Studios (then MGM Studios), the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the California Adventure facelift and most recently, Shanghai Disneyland.
Craig Russell has served as a co-executive leader of the company, and will take on a new role focusing on project execution and integration around the world, according to the memo from Chapek released by the company, while Bruce Vaughn is leaving to pursue other ventures outside of the company.
The move comes just as Universal Parks and Resorts is ready to open their third branch of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. The Orlando park is looking to build a massive new waterpark, and is adding their fifth onsite hotel later this year. The park will also bring back a new version of King Kong with Skull Island: Reign of Kong. In 2017 the resort will add two more major attractions and will bring their new waterpark online.
In contrast-Walt Disney World will see the opening of a Frozen attraction, while Animal Kingdom gears up for the opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar in 2017. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is closing large portions of the park, while Disneyland is also ripping out large portions of the park-both to get ready for Star Wars Land. Disneyland and California Adventure are also rumored to be getting massive new Marvel attractions in the next few years as well.
Will this be enough to finally squash Universal and other major parks who are looking to take a chunk out of Disney’s theme park dominance? With Weis in charge of Imagineering, will the company be looking to make a resurgence of new attractions all over the world like they did in the late 80’s/early 90’s?