UPDATE: While no official word has been made as of yet, it does appear that Rohde and Fitzgerald may have not been among those let go in the massive layoffs. Once the dust actually settles on the WDI restructuring, we will provide you with more information.
Please keep in mind that WDWNT takes great strides to be among the first to bring you information as we hear it, so when a post says “RUMOR”, it should be taken as such. We are plugged into the fan community all-day, everyday to find the best information, and from time to time, a news tip from a reliable source may not end up being what is true. In the end, unless we confirm a story, or the Walt Disney Company has, we are trying our best to relay information to you and keep you “in the know”. I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by or takes exception to us running this story.
While normal following the completion of large projects from Walt Disney Imagineering, rumors suggest that over 200 Imagineers were let go in layoffs this week as part of a division-wide reorganization. With the completion of Shanghai Disneyland the design phase for upcoming large projects such as the Star Wars themed land, Disney Parks and Resorts would have no need for so many Imagineers to fill out a more limited list of projects. Apparently, some of the higher level layoffs were voluntary, but some of the bigger names in the WDI repertoire may be exiting when the dust has settled. Among the names rumored for exit are Tom Fitzgerald and Joe Rohde, two of the most prolific Imagineers of the last 30 years.
Rohde was instrumental in the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Aulani, and the upcoming Pandora: The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Rohde was most recently put in charge of Marvel projects and is heading up Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout for Disney California Adventure. Joe’s resume most notably includes work on Captain EO, Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, Maelstrom, Disneyland’s New Fantasyland, the Adventurer’s Club, and Expedition Everest, just to name a few. His exit from the company will not be immediate as he will complete the AVATAR project before what should be an earlier-than-expected retirement.
As always with rumors, they are not official in any way until confirmed, and it is possible that Rohde and Fitzgerald are not involved in the layoffs.