Bruce Vaughn Departing Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob Weis Named President of WDI

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Bruce Vaughn has decided to leave Walt Disney Imagineering, leading Disney to name Bob Weis president of Walt Disney Imagineering.

Weis at the 2015 D23 Expo

In addition, Anthony Connelly will join WDI from Disney Cruise Line and take on the role of Executive Vice President, WDI Business Operations and Project Delivery. Anthony brings 26 years of Disney experience in a variety of leadership positions.

The changes create an interesting dynamic for WDI, with Bob Weis acting as a creative leader and Connelly overseeing the financial and construction management aspects of WDI.

The Iron Man Experience will be the very first MARVEL ride built by Disney

Though previously announced, a big part of the streamlined Walt Disney Imagineering relies heavily on franchise leaders, with Scott Trowbridge leading Star Wars and Joe Rhode leading MARVEL projects.

Overall these changes should be positive for Disney fans, returning a lot of the decision making power to the creative side of Walt Disney Imagineering once projects are approved. Here’s how the new corporate structure at WDI will work:

Reporting to Bob Weis:

  • Franchise Leaders –
    • Scott Trowbridge (Star Wars)
    • Joe Rohde (Marvel)
  • Creative Leaders –
    • Tom Fitzgerald
    • Daniel Jue
    • Joe Lanzisero
    • Zsolt Hormay
  • Creative Entertainment Leaders –
    • Matt Almos
    • Kevin Eld
    • Dana Harrel
    • Michael Jung
    • Jon Snoddy who will continue to lead WDI R&D including Disney Research
    • Patti Burke who will lead the newly created WDI Centers of Excellence
    • Chris Kubsch, Show Studio Leader, will add oversight of the Entertainment Design and Delivery Studio reporting to Patti Burke

Reporting to Anthony:

  • Craig Russell – as referenced above
  • Regional Leaders –
    • Kathy Mangum (WDW, DCL, DLP)
    • Howard Brown (Asia)
    • TBD (DLR/Aulani)
    • Daniel Carney – Environmental Design & Engineering Studio Executive
    • Mark Mesko – Ride Engineering Studio Executive
    • Michael Cawlina – Construction Management Studio Executive
    • Zach Riddley – Strategic Menu Planning and Project Development Executive
    • Justin Newton, leader of Project Management and Project Controls will report to Zach Riddley
    • Strategic Park Menu Planning, also under Zach, will dual report to Bob Weis

About the author

Jason Diffendal

Jason has been a lifelong fan of the Disney parks since his first visit at age 2. His biennial pilgrimages during his childhood accelerated into semi-annual visits by the year 2000, when he also Joined the Disney Vacation Club. Luckily, Jason’s bride-to-be was also a Disney fan, which allowed his infatuation with the Disney parks to continue, and ultimately culminated in their wedding at Disney's Wedding Pavilion in September 2003. Early in 2007, Jason began his involvement with the planning for what became Celebration 25, the unofficial fan gathering to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Epcot®. Soon thereafter, Jason met Tom Corless at a pin trading meet in New Jersey, and became part of the WDW News Today podcast starting with Episode 17. Jason has been involved with the WDWNT Network ever since, and can't seem to escape no matter how hard he tries.
Contact Jason at [email protected]

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How does John Lasseter, Principal Creative Advisor, Walt Disney Imagineering, fit into this restructuring? Is his role increased or reduced? Where does that leave imagineers such as Josh Shipley or Lisa Girolami?