The Systematic Destruction of Walt Disney Imagineering — Current Imagineers State ‘Morale Has Never Been Lower’ As Lake Nona Move Draws Closer

Tom Corless

destructionofwdi

The Systematic Destruction of Walt Disney Imagineering — Current Imagineers State ‘Morale Has Never Been Lower’ As Lake Nona Move Draws Closer

Tom Corless

destructionofwdi

The Systematic Destruction of Walt Disney Imagineering — Current Imagineers State ‘Morale Has Never Been Lower’ As Lake Nona Move Draws Closer

Here and there, you’ve probably noticed a social media post from a current or former Disney Imagineer about the upcoming move of most employees in the division from Glendale, California, to Lake Nona, Florida. As the move draws closer, we are beginning to find out who will or won’t make the move to Central Florida. Just the other day, we found out that Kevin Lively, who just recently completed stellar updates of The Jungle Cruise attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, will not be staying on through the relocation.

For some, the decision has already been made, and they won’t be heading southeast. For others, a “yes” to the move was given in hopes that the Lake Nona relocation will fail to materialize or at least fail to materialize quickly, leaving them a few more months, maybe even years of employment at WDI before they have to pack a bag.

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Morale at Walt Disney Imagineering is understandably at “an all-time low,” according to those who we spoke with, all of which are still actively employed in Glendale. How could it not be after the COVID-19 furloughs, which were followed by layoffs, forced retirements, and now this “move” to Lake Nona? Things are bad enough that Imagineers who have been with the company 30 years or longer often warn younger employees that they “shouldn’t trust management” in regards to this Florida campus project and beyond.

Apparently, upper management had such little respect for the leadership at Imagineering that they only told them about the Lake Nona move but a day or two before it was announced to the public. That’s right, Imagineering wasn’t even consulted on this drastic change of scenery for their employees. When WDI Presidents Bob Weis and Barbara Bouza had to break the news to the entire campus, it was said that they looked “distraught,” and the perception of their peers was that they took the decision from the company “very personally.”

Originally, teams were going to be specifically picked to move to Florida, but then about a month ago, the direction became that “all of Imagineering was going to be going.” The internal rumblings on this change are that so few are willing to make the move, that it just makes sense to move all who are willing to go. Some estimate as low as just 15% or less of employees will remain when all is said and done.

Imagineers were given 90 days to decide if they were going to move or not. That’s the point at which many started to leave the organization. As stated before, others not planning to make the move are holding out, whether it be out of hope that the Lake Nona project gets canned or simply to collect their upcoming bonuses early next year. Another large scale exodus of talent is expected at that time.

No matter who you talk to, the story seems to be the same, that Walt Disney Imagineering is a mess at the moment. Some staff was told that if they say “no” to the move, they can change their minds in the future, while others were told the exact opposite. Administrators and assistants were not even offered relocation packages; they were instead told they could relocate themselves and reapply for the position after doing so.

In the end, it is clearer each day to the public what the Lake Nona move is, and Imagineers have known it since day one. It is not truly a relocation; it is a downsizing, cost-cutting measure. The pandemic has offered Disney CEO Bob Chapek and his associates an opportunity to make the company as lean as possible, as lean as they always wanted it to be. The layoffs, early-retirement offers, and now this move are all in the same effort to reduce creative costs on projects, which has been a hallmark of the Chapek regime from the day he was given the job as the head of Parks and Resorts back in 2015. Every Imagineer interviewed specifically brought up the last-minute elimination of entertainment and walk-around audio-animatronics characters for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and many brought up other projects they worked on which had been drastically slashed over the past six years. Given these circumstances, none of them are shocked as to what is happening to their departments now.

8 15 WDI 008 1
Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was more robust before massive budget cuts eliminated an indoor shop, a sit-down restaurant, much of them themed elements from Slinky Dog Dash, and more.

So, why would someone stay with the company through all of this? Well, like you and me, these Imagineers, in most cases, are lifelong Disney fans. Multiple Imagineers told us that they know they could make 2-3 times more money and be happier elsewhere, but they pursued this passion because they love the theme parks and want nothing more in this world but to create amazing places for guests to visit. They also, like us, don’t want to see the current regime that is running The Walt Disney Company decimate the product nor the legendary institution that created it.

The reality that The Walt Disney Company doesn’t understand in its fight for a healthy bottom line today is that many of these people are not replaceable. This talent can not be found at a lower price point, and the resulting product, no matter how wildly popular your intellectual properties are, will not make the return you believe it will if the representation in the theme parks and resorts is poorly designed or no different from what a competitor can make.

This post comes from a selfish place, and honestly, so do the pleas of the Imagineers who want to stay with the company now without moving. As people who grew up to love the Disney brand and all that it stands for, we want to see it thrive and succeed while remaining true to its core values. We know that if all this comes to pass, in many ways, the company we fell in love with will no longer be what it once was. Again, these wonderfully talented people know they can make magic elsewhere, but they want to make it for the company they love and for the people who share in that love with them.

If Disney does make this mistake and relinquishes all of this talent to the world, I pray the rest of the themed entertainment industry takes this opportunity to strengthen their rosters. I personally would give anything to have the capital to begin a new theme park endeavor right now, knowing full well I could have my pick of some of the most talented people to ever create and design. Disney’s loss will be the rest of the industry’s gain, or maybe someone will, for once, think of the product they give their customers over a temporary change to a profit margin.

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120 thoughts on “The Systematic Destruction of Walt Disney Imagineering — Current Imagineers State ‘Morale Has Never Been Lower’ As Lake Nona Move Draws Closer”

  1. Thank you for this article, while I have heard about this along the way you bring it all home. My wife and I were just talking about how Disney is making us pay more and get less across the board. Hoping for positive changes in hopefully the near future.

      • In my experience working for both, Disney has asked us to bend over and take it repeatedly, making many of us quit. Not once have I ever felt so disrespected and undervalued at Universal as Disney has made me feel in the last year, so I’m leaving my disney job of 11 years for a FT position with universal.

    • Cody we couldn’t agree more .As highly invested DVC members our plan for future vacations is to stay at our Disney resort and spend our theme park dollars at Universal. Disney is gouging us all and we’re not going to spend money in their parks.

  2. If you want to be a reporter then by all means REPORT news. Trying to do a news story thats really just an opinion piece not actually backed up by anything other than social media posts is something Fox News does. Be better.

    • Fox,CNN,MSMBC,ABC,CBS ect, all dont back much up, Tom has been covering this for a little bit and pretty fairley i might add, we all know it’s coming,I just hope they leave their CA ideas there and not bring them to florida.

    • It seems that there are those like yourself “Horton” who was absent from English class when COMPREHENSION was taught. This reporter stated the facts clearly. The reporter also interjected a purely professional opinion of what effects the facts are and how those facts are affecting not only the cast members but also longtime Disney fans.. Instead of being a negative person attacking the person use COMPREHENSION to rea beyond yer nose.

    • Someone sounds a bit upset about the truth being let out… keep this up and everyone will sooner or later stop going to your parks. Enjoy.

  3. Why/how is Chapek still in position? He’s proven time & time again he doesn’t understand Disney and doesn’t care.

    • He’s still there and will stay for the foreseeable future because he is doing what most shareholders want – they only care about the bottom line.

    • Chapek is not there for you and me and the happiness. He is there for the shareholder ,the business people and the money men ,who don’t give a rat’s ass about magic or happiness. They care about the almighty dollar and the bottom line. As much disdain as I have for Chapek in that regard he’s doing a bang-up job of why he was put in place and unfortunately seems he will remain there. Seems we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

    • An inexperienced rookie CEO like Chapek sees a year in which they lost BILLIONS and sees the “easy” answer to that problem that’ll keep shareholders happy is reducing costs across the board the following year. His fast and hard cuts (that impact both internal units as well as guest experiences) have been nothing short of disgusting. And for what? You’re not going to recoup billions within a year or even two years especially the longer the pandemic continues to impact all WDW company divisions. It seems the biggest cuts and changes imposed have been applied to the Theme Parks division and Imagineering …and that’s not by mistake. It’s an easy move that someone with the mindset like Chapek can try to sweep under the rug with the guise of “increased attendance,” “financials up vs prior year (no kidding since they were closed for a bit),” “continued resort demand,” etc. eventually this will bite him in the arse and it’s just a matter of time. He can and probably will reverse course in 1-2 years time but the damage will already been done with key Imagineers or Key leadership personnel leaving, forced into retirement, etc. I ask: What will be left? Can we avoid this yet keep shareholders happy?
      Yes – it is possible to keep internal departments happy, especially Imagineering and those tied closely to the Parks. What about cost cutting? Yes cutting projects, placing them on hold, cutting budgets and the like will still happen but to a less drastic, less abrasive approach especially where the direct impacts to the guest experience is concerned. The move to end the Magical Express was abrasive and absolutely tone deaf. I feel like this is overlooked but think about it. You’ve ended the key service that kept guests in your literal world/bubble. A service that literally sent them straight to your property. Between the transportation of your family and your families luggage, it was an absolutely huge reason that made it easy for us to invest our future vacations into Disney World via DVC membership. Now they want families to use ride sharing services????? For Families with little kids now require multiple car seats for a ride share service since the mode of transportation now requires it. (Large charter buses don’t require car seats/booster seats). Yea, um, not going to happen.
      Point being, this BS strategy only carries Chapek Admin so far and on weak legs. The moment they realize they are not meeting the guest experience related metric marks is the moment they try to save it and it’ll be too late. Drastic Short term cuts won’t save them from 2020 and will only damage everything else. A different approach that still consists of some budget related cuts and keeping eye on guests experience would’ve resulted in better outcomes for the company and the shareholders in the long run.

  4. it has become quite apparent that cheapact cares about nothing but the money, not employees, and certainly not the customers he is fleecing.

  5. Bob Paycheck at it again. While I wasn’t a fan of Iger either this is getting rediculous. I forsee a return to the dark yrs ahead.

  6. Working in the industry that Chapek came from before Disney – this move does not surprise me as it’s quite common in CPGs. Cost-cutting is now a measure of success versus true innovation. Hard to see this culture make its way over to Disney.

    • You are right there are two ways to meet your objectives even with your family budget. You can get more sources of income, like a second job, or more customers, or you can reduce costs. Both take skill and require pain and hardahip.

  7. It’s so crazy because on the Disney+ Imagineering series they highlighted how Eisner’s decisions to deliver a very cheap DCA and Walt Disney Studios Paris park we’re blemishes on the company’s creative legacy.

    Wasn’t it John Hench that said, “…I thought it looked better as a parking lot” (in reference to the opening mess called DCA).

    Cheap doesn’t keep the ticket turnstiles clicking in the long run. You don’t post hope that Roy Disney would make a corny. I think he’s either done with Disney Corporate or else they are obstructing him purposefully. I find it very odd, especially y since his father was so instrumental in getting the Walt Disney World resort built, that he wasn’t feature on the ABC television special or at Disney’s press event.

    Lex Luther has been most cruel!!

    • Roy Disney died in 2009. His daughter, Abigail, has taken over the role of criticizing the company her grandfather and grand-uncle built.

    • Alas, Roy E. Disney passed away in 2009, so he certainly can’t help course correct this time around. (I was on staff at WDI during both the best and worst of the Eisner era, and I try never to lose hope that the parks will someday rise above once more)

  8. I am the designer of the fireflies at Pirates of the Caribbean and had some astute observations I shared here that were censored anyway.

    WHY IS THE WORLD GOING TO HELL?

    • Because our world right now is all about greed, and the rich getting richer. Won’t last, but the path back to sanity will be long and painful.

  9. I understand that Disney is cutting costs and quality, but I don’t get the hesitancy to move to Florida. I would think that Disney staff would appreciate the lower taxes and cost of living.

    • Not everything in life is about work and money. To move from a place that invests in its citizens to one where schools can’t even choose to have students wear masks without getting sued by their own governor is not an easy move. Plus, people have lives where they live. Asking someone to move 3000 miles for lower taxes but be completely away from their families and homes isn’t easy. I would never move myself and my family 3000 miles to save on taxes in a place where so little importance is placed on health, equality and education.

    • I know, right? California is so dry, hard on skin. Florida is so much better, and it has Disney World, for heaven’s sake! But of course in practice, that might be difficult to do. Homes to sell, spouses who may not be able/willing to move, kids who like going to a different school, family close by, etc. They might want to move some day, but not now.

    • It’s not cheaper to live in Central Florida. Yes, there are no state taxes, but you pay for it in local taxes, lack of quality education, and the government here doesn’t care about its constituents. It’s not the happiest place on Earth to live. Orlando and the surrounding area are in a major housing crisis because so many people move here. Personally, we moved here (for work) January 2020, bought a house, and it is suddenly worth $200k MORE than we bought it for. While that seems nice, it’s terrifying that the market will adjust itself sooner rather than later. It’s simply not worth it.

    • Because, for some people, there is more to life than money. California and Anaheim are much different than Florida and Orlando. A lot of people would leave loved ones and a way of life behind just to make more money and that’s fine. But a lot of people wouldn’t. You can call that irrational if you want.

    • I have no insights or connections to the imagineering department, but if I had to tell my team that they had to decide to relocate across the country or resign and had 90 days to decide that would be a huge blow and a hard sell. Most people live where they want to be. They have families, friends, and support networks, and asking them to pull up roots and move across the country to a different climate and completely new place is a lot. The fact that administration and support staff were told yeah you can move on your own dime but we won’t guarantee you your job is doubly heinous and shows how much care they have for people. Not to mention the historical and spiritual ties that must be felt in being in CA a Stones throw from where it all started. The morale damage of leaving the place where you can literally walk in Walt’s footsteps and other giants that made Disneyland possible must be a huge factor. This is a cold hearted corporate choice and it shows all the more the direction the company will continue to take.

    • A lower cost of living and no state taxes does not cancel out low morale, moving away from your family and friends, moving away from your home, moving to a constant steam room, a covid nightmare because of our crazy governor, a large republican population when you’remost likelya Democrat, poor educational system…I could go on. Not everyone loves everything about Florida. Some of us can see it’s flaws but can deal, some of us are stuck because of jobs. There are many reasonable reasons a Californian would not choose to live in Florida.

    • There are lots of reasons – a lot of people have spouses who have careers california, family they don’t want to leave, homes they own, kids who don’t want to change schools, friends and community they would be leaving behind. And the company has been so volatile that there’s no guarantee that after all that they won’t be laid off anyway and end up with the short end of the stick.

      Also it’s true that taxes and cost of living are lower there, but salaries tend to be lower to be commensurate with that.

      Florida is more “business friendly” but that really just means employees are giving up protections they would have had in California for a state that is always going to favor the employer over the employee.

    • Jeff, you have to remember, they live in California, They have a very specific way of thinking and belive Florida us a bad place becuse of lower taxes and the freedom we have

    • I don’t think it is about lower taxes and cost of living. Most people have a family. Whether that is a spouse and children, or possibly parents or relatives that need taken care of. To drop all your ties and move to the east coast is daunting. “financially” it might make sense, but there are more factors than just finance. What if your loved one is in a hospital because of cancer and you can’t move to florida due to this reason. Compassion goes a long way, and maybe the lack of compassion is what is causing these problems…

    • Why don’t they just relocate to a third world country with zero standards? You have to realize, talent likes to live places and have a life outside of work. Shockingly, a lot of imagineers were drawn to their jobs because they lived near a given park and dreamed of seeing those changes come to the park.

      California imagineers have no shortage of theme parks in California to jump ship to, mind you, that are still doing a lot of the work locally. So, thanks to Disney’s cost cutting, expect to see improvement at universal studios in the future.

    • There are a number of factors. Leaving family & friends is difficult. The Florida weather
      is excruciating! The heat & humidity is suffocating to me. Having to deal with hurricanes. Just dealing with selling a home, packing up for a cross country move, living in temporary housing, trying to find a home to buy is not a little thing.

    • I don’t think you’ve been to California or Florida – because if you have you wouldn’t make that comment. One state is paradise, one is a sauna. Oh, and it’s 2500 miles apart. Can you just up and move like that? Family, pets, vehicles, community – can you give that all up?

    • For those that could uproot their families’ lives, I see your point, but moving even in the same city is hard. Moving across the country and away from all your friends, family and support network can be incredibly hard and impossible for some. Imagine (pun intended) leaving your siblings, parents, friends behind and having no back up child support or just support?

    • And fewer worker protections. While I happen to live in Florida, I can understand the perspective of someone who currently lives in a very blue state, that their values may be different that someone who lives in a red state. Lower taxes is not something everyone would trade for if they enjoy the benefits they get in trade.

  10. Well said Tom, We as Disney and theme park fans need this article now more than ever. We have truly witnessed an intentional dismantling of creative culture and historic institution under the Chapek era (all the way back to his head of parks days).

  11. Well written! It’s a sad state of affairs. Guests are losing benefits and perks while prices are going up and they’re cutting corners and staff. Let’s make one thing clear. Disney is by no means hurting. Yeah, some execs might not be able to buy that extra car or vacation abroad this year. But this company is by no means going bankrupt or hurting for money. All these changes make very clear they only want money from people they want money from: the rich. They are pricing out the middle class and will be no better than the organizations that pay minimum wage and overwork their staff with little in return. I honestly wish it was different, but you can’t honestly say these price increases have genuinely changed or improved services or is adding to the park or organization as a whole.

    • Disney have priced themselves out of my business. I can afford it but I’m not rich. We just got back from Disneyworld and the prices were so unbelievably high. So much so that we won’t be going back. Very sad because we have been there probably 20+ times in 50 years from Michigan.

  12. Chapek is the new Michael Eisner. At least Eisner had a good start as CEO but then really got cheap and cut corners in his last 5-10 years as CEO. Bob Chapek is starting off where Michael Wisner left off. Who will be the next CEO that will have to come in and fix what Chapek has screwed up like Bob Iger had to do when Eisner was kicked out?

  13. HERE HERE !!!!! BRAVO for this vision of the future: Universal Studios will be gaining lots of great talent !! Glad I’m a UOAP member !!!!

  14. Disney is far from the only company moving jobs out of California. Regulation and taxes are taxes are insane. I’d be thrilled if I was an Imagineer moving to Florida.

  15. Thank you, Imagineers, for all the happiness and fun you brought to us. You deserve to be treated so much better than this.

  16. This is shockingly sad and yet another thimble headed move by the penny pinching CEO. It’s obvious his goal is to destroy Walt’s legacy and it will take years to recover from this short sightedness.

  17. I would think that they would want to get out of California. Tent cities, nanny state, anti-business practices, high taxes, expensive homes and socialist leadership. I can see why they wouldn’t want to leave, said nobody.

    • Struggling families, a blight of a state, surging inequality, lowered school standards, siphoning money away from public schools…yeah Florida isn’t the paradise you and Ronnie seem to think it is.

    • You really make the fox news talking points sound like they are a constant issue in daily life in the state.

    • Down voters simply denying the reality that California finds itself in, under years and years of single party rule. Disney moving WDI out of California is as much a commentary on the state politicians as it is Chapek’s stupid decisions.

  18. Being an Engineer in Central Florida, I’ve heard the rumblings of this for months and while it is sad to hear about those departing the company, it was a source of excitement for Disney fans like me who saw this as their chance to finally be an imagineer! But the way it’s all shaking out is sounding less ideal.

  19. Sitting across the dining room table as my high school senior tweaks their college essay in hopes of an engineering and Imagineering future. Hoping the powers that be see that you simply can’t have a *Disney* without world-class creativity and ingenuity.

  20. Thank you to WDWNT for putting this vital and all too honest, distressing, and abhorrent acts of the modern day Walt Disney Company. Indeed, sadly the current regime is so desperate for short term profits that they are eviscerating their irreplaceable human capital that is the crux of what made the company. Not only is this a callous choice and affront to those that have made the company what it is but will ultimately be costly in a pecuniary sense for the company down the road.

    • WDW does love burning their bridges. Their treatment of very talented Imagineers here in Florida years ago was heartless. I see they haven’t learned their lesson at all.

  21. Disney is no different than any other major corporation (written as someone who experienced several of these downsizing/relocation events as part of a Dow 30 company). Not saying they are right or not traumatic for those impacted, just the reality of corporate America. And Lake Nona in Florida appears to be a pretty attractive work location (we have a house nearby and really like the area).

  22. Disney is what my family does, it’s what brings us together, whether it’s movies or a trip to the parks. It is so sad they are trying to turn into every other theme park. The way the parks were is what brings that magical experience together, if they are like every other park the magic disappears. The imagineers and the cast members are a huge part of bringing that experience to disney. I thank them all for everything they have brought to my family and others, I am so disappointed with disney for the decisions they are making, I understand that they have to make money to run but people love disney for a reason and they are slowly taking those reasons away.

  23. They had to see the writing on the wall with Chapek. Why the hell did they put him in that position?! A trained monkey could do better than that buffoon!! If only we could bring back the Disney of the past as reflected in the Timekeeping articles.

  24. It’s not a bad idea to get rid of the Imagineers if their presence is no longer required. I thought I read somewhere that Chapek is not going to put more money into Disney World after current projects are finished. If that’s true, there’s no reason keeping imagineers around. If they think they can make more money elsewhere, let them. A lot of people want to work for Disney. I know a friend of mine who is in the toy industry tried once, failed. If Disney ever needs them, they can get more in a heartbeat. Disney isn’t having a lot of money right now, and they have to survive on the cheap. I mean, look at the 50th celebration. Not much is done, and yet crowds are flooding WDW anyway with long wait times. So, why not do this? If people will go to Disney World with or without all the Imagineers, then it makes sense to get rid of most of them.

  25. Genius Move by Mr. Chapek, over the years he has seen Gatorland, Universal Studios , islands of adventure, legoland, make tons of profit , and provide newer experiences and attractions without the so called imagineers. It was high time to get rid of them. They were extra baggage from walts era

  26. What a sin at the opportunity Disney could have given to the Imagineers. Florida is a great business climate compared to the overreaching madness of California’s totalitarian government. However, what is not acceptable is Bob PAYCHECK taking advantage of the opportunity and using it as an excuse to screw over WDI’s bottom line. Honestly, if I were an Imagineer and told that I would be able to retain my position to relocate to a different area with better tax breaks (i.e. no State income tax) and a much lower cost of living, I would be overjoyed. However, what is critical and quite barbaric is the evident downsizing of the department and the fact that not everyone was given this option. This is quite a blow to me as someone who has dreamed and aspired for over a decade to join of the ranks of the greatest theme park designers in the history of the entertainment industry. It breaks my heart that PAYCHECK continues to sabotage and create an abusive relationship with fans and passholders alike. I am not a passholder, but I will certainly not be one anytime soon. At this point, I should probably aspire to join the ranks of Universal Creative who, in the recent decade, has gone above and beyond in its theme park offerings and continues to invest in its parks to create a healthy fanbase (I.e. Harry Potter and Super Nintendo World). If things don’t change soon, Disney might just see another fan put their passion elsewhere…

  27. The only good thing I see coming out of this is that they will be moving from LA to the Orlando area. LA is not a good place traffic wise compared to Orlando.

  28. Thanks for this article. I didn’t know they changed their plans. I was pretty excited when they announced this cause they said that a new Imagineering workplace would open in Florida. This would mean more projects and put more love to Walt Disney World Resort, while still strengthening the Disneyland Resort theme park. By having both Imagineering places, more projects, jobs and talents would be made. By moving to Florida, and not keeping the old one, it’s a certain downgrade, and I feel sorry for all Imagineers. Disney is making us pay more and get less. Seen in the new Genie app, Genie+, Lightning Lane, park admissions, Galaxy edge’s cancellation, now part of Galactic starcruiser (paid experience), no more transportation, etc. Bob Chapek needs to go. His ideals and his business decisions do not fit within the company. It’s the exact opposite. Instead of magic, and putting the fans first, he puts money first, a problem, cause no Disney CEO has ever done this before. Walt Disney was perfect. Roy was perfect, Eisner had his ups and downs, but at least he still put the fans first. Iger was also a legend. Without him, Disney wouldn’t be as strong today, with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, National Geographic, Muppets, etc. Disney has gone from the most magical company in the universe to slowly losing to Universal. Unlike Disney, Universal is putting in more money, more job opportunities. Look at Wizarding World, Super Nintendo World, Disney somehow needs to match that, and they can. Star Wars was big, but budget cuts made the new land really bad, along with the approach and timelines they made. They have the intellectual property, they have the talent, they have everything, but if the CEO is not letting them do it, then the company will always be in someone else’s shadows. I am writing passionately, as for many of us here, the cast members, Imagineers, we love Disney and the memories it has given us. But no fan wants to go through this, and as time goes by, fewer supporters will be fans of Disney and Disney will never be the same again. The first step for Disney to start becoming magical and great again is to fire Bob Chapek. It’s NOW or NEVER!!! HE IS RUINING THE COMPANY!!!

  29. And yet people still attend these parks… even after getting slapped on the face with high prices and cuts. Funny how all here say oh how sad and complain about high prices but yet keep spending their money on Disney, let’s face it the only way this will ever change is if you all STOP GOING TO DISSSNEEEYYY! I had an annual pass from 2011 till 2018 when they started to charge for parking at hotels and depending on the resort you stay at that’s how much you will pay for your car to be there, when I was told this over the phone when making a reservation, I told them why?? I can park inside the parks for free so why should I pay to park my car inside the hotel??? It makes no sense this is just greed as it’s finest!! I am an annual pass holder and parking at the parks is included… all I was told was that this is the new change so after that trip I did not renew pass and went with Universal. While I do miss Disney, this greed has gotten way out of hand and a place that was build for normal families to take their kids somewhere and have fun and build memories has now been turn into a place for only the rich and famous. Not saying they shouldn’t have a place to go. But this has gone too far. Let’s all boycott Disney for a year you will see all this change if we all just stop going.

  30. After over 30 trips to WDW, starting in 1976, I’m done with it, It is no longer the “Happiest place on earth” for me. It is now for those with deep pockets and not for the average family. I’m done with it.

  31. We’re just about done with Disney anyway. With the continued removal of services, higher prices and this “woke” agenda they keep pushing, we’re out. We already cancelled D+ and have a couple of trips to WDW left but that’ll be it. Once those are done, we won’t be going back. It’s a shame too. We still love the Disney of old. The new version, not. at. all.

  32. They are slowly destroying Disney as we knew it. What needs to happen is all of Walt’s, Roy’s, their two brothers & their sister’s descendants to bind together and go to the courts to get The Disney Company back. Then put in charge of the company who is like Walt & Roy to put the company back the way Walt wanted it!!!

  33. As an avid Disney fan, we stopped going to the parks just before Covid and the recent rash of slashing amenities. I don’t see that changing in the near future. I love the parks. I love the history of the parks. But I don’t love the corporation sucking the magic and the life out of them and employees. Walt would be devastated, as his children have already stated. It is sad to see corporations have such a lack of humanity, heart, and true leadership. Wherever these imagineers and their support staff end up I hole they are treated better and actually valued.

  34. There have been so many negative stories from Disney employees on a global level lately. That along with the ongoing price raising doesn’t make the park look very attractive to me, but I’ve never been much of a fan of the Disney experience. Once I got old enough to make my own decisions about travel and realized I could spend two weeks having a blast or 4 days at Disney, Disney completely lost it’s appeal for me. And, don’t get me started on Disney cruises. I see their boats at all the ports I end up at but every single person on that boat didn’t 4 times as much to be there including the children (and I’m not exaggerating).

    Personally Disney can keep it all. I spent a week in the Virgin Islands and a week in Tampa, bought two ALL park passed to Busch parks and ate out every day for less than it would have cost to stay at a Disney resort for 1 week and only have access to two parks.

  35. As an artist who was paid to work commercially for decades, I’m sure Cheapskate, his accountants and managers believe that they can farm this work out to freelancers and studios abroad. The publishing industry, amongst others, began doing this decades ago. By now, Disney must have well-established guidelines for anyone who would illustrate Mickey & Minnie for, say, a set of mugs or apparel. So Disney will likely keep or hire folks whose job it is to see that the “graphic standards” are maintained when contracting out off-site talent. Will it lead to lower quality work? In many cases, probably. But if the customer base keeps coming and paying, there’ll be no incentive for Bob and his idiot underlings to change. The only thing that will cause them to reconsider and change course is a long, sustained drop of receipts. Yes, people, this ONLY about MONEY.

  36. Disney has become a corporate machine with little to no concern for the guests. Seems they have forgotten the guests pay the bills and are paying more and getting less and less. So sad to see the creative genius of Imagineers being pushed to the wayside to make a buck.

  37. GATORLAND USA is doing amazing all these years without imagineers (waste of $$$), why can’t the Disney corporation do the same ??? I ask each one of you, think about it

  38. We really need to start a petition to get the new Bob fired. I mean Millions of signatures petition. That is the only way Disney will listen and understand that we do not like the changes he is making.

  39. *sigh* I do miss people who can see the good things in life and turn them into extraordinary things…. Disney was extraordinary but recents changes have slowly changed my thinking into just another “theme” park. It hasn’t gotten there yet, but it will as it continues to make changes for shareholders rather than customers. I am both a shareholder and a customer and I am not too happy…

  40. They are like any big corp. Move away from internal innovation and counting on the moat to protect them while they churn out dollar sucking products that offer very little new originality. Lets face it the big D has a big moat.

    They will attempt to buy any real innovative companies and products as they come online and gain popularity.

    For the record, I am not a Disney fan even though I love many of the older movies. The parks are just money grabs from back to front, long waits and hoards of people that I go to for the kids as infrequently as possible. The movies are mostly political correct rehash with very little in the way of originality.

  41. I’ve always known Disney was ultimately a big profit seeking corporation, but never in my life have they felt more akin to the low quality of something you would expect from Walmart, or a telecom company or something. Disney today, under Bob Chapek, looks nothing like Disney from any point in my life. Every new decision they make is just a money grab that specifically seems to downgrade both the guest/customer satisfaction, and increases cost or maximizes profit.

    I’m actually afraid for the company right now. I honestly expect to see people give up on a lot of it as the quality drops.

  42. Warner Brothers, now is your chance!!! Gobble up this world-class talent and build an entire, super immersive Harry Potter theme park! (Don’t get me wrong, universals Harry Potter land is great but I need more…)

  43. Not only is morale at a low for imagineers but it also appears that talent is at a low. When you all you produce is remake/reboot movies from the 80s and 90s creativity is dead.

  44. Having been a huge Disney Parks fan for all of my life and a former Imagineer, this write-up is in need of some perspective. First of all, this move by Disney is NOTHING new. They’ve been doing business this way since Walt inspired the first strike by his underpaid studio workers long before the parks. My time at WDI 20 years ago was the biggest thrill and biggest disappointment of my life. SURPRISE: I was cut loose a few months after 9/11 as was most of the department I was in.

    But honestly, I had never encountered so many arrogant, miserable and non-trustworthy people in my life. I called it “The Unhappiest Place on Earth”. The Imagineers themselves sometimes referred to it as Mouschwitz, which, BTW, all of my Jewish friends understood and did not appreciate. WDI has sometimes been called “vaunted” in print, and rightfully so (look it up).

    As far as “…many of these people are not replaceable”: Oh, yes they are, and “…this talent can not be found at a lower price point”: Oh, yes they can. In my years doing work for other parks around the globe and in aerospace (which, BTW isn’t NEARLY as dysfunctional as the theme park industry), I have met many very talented and creative people that would be very capable Imagineers. As far as “…They could make 2-3 times the money elsewhere”: Um, no they can’t. But they should have no problem finding other work in LA’s very diversified economy.

    Having WDI on your resume seldom impresses anyone, and it certainly doesn’t give ANYONE any more cache (or cash) when looking for another job. Sorry, but I have NO sympathy for any of them. I DO have some empathy, but no sympathy.

  45. Disney is known (at least within the company) for kicking their longtime employees to the curb with little regard for their contributions and years of service and with little warning and the harshest of “escorts” off the lot. Cheaper to bring in younger employees and pay them relatively less. But what a heartless crime!

  46. What needs to be done is all or most all Walt’s, Roy’s and their 2 brother’s & sisters decendents join forces and go to court to regain control of Disney. Then they put in charge family members who think like Walt & Roy & Walt’s wife Lillian to head the company. Then put other family members on the board and get Disney back the way it was when Walt was running the show. All we can do is hope.

  47. Chepak again proving he is the ugly (think Danny Devito from the movie Twins) offspring of Midas. Unlike Midas, in which everything (s)he touched turned to gold, everything Chepak touches turns to $hit (though given his lineage, he thinks he is gifted with the golden touch).

  48. Imagineer that use to work there as an Imagineer has seen this progression for a long time. One of the famous saying was “ Bean Counters know the cost of everything, and the Value of Nothing” it’s just gotten further down since he left. Very sad to what Disney has come to. Walt Disney is Turning in his Grave.

  49. This is the type of article that really makes me wonder about the world. I finally took the time to read this article and I have to admit it is truly upsetting. Imagineering has been in Glendale forever, it is where Disney World was planned it is where It’s a small world, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Carousel of Progress, The Monorail, Country Bear Jamboree, Splash Mountain, and so many other attractions we consider classics today were built. WDI is what built the company, imagine if Walt never had WED, I imagine today, we wouldn’t have Audio-Animatronics and I imagine Disney wouldn’t be a global company. I can say this now, this is a repeat of what happened with Animal Kingdom with Beastly Kingdom except on a much bigger scale and all the Imagineers went to Universal last time, I wouldn’t be surprised if a company like Garner Holt which has such close ties picked up most of the Imagineers leaving especially with them being based in California. I honestly feel like this is the story that needs to be put on Chapeck’s desk, the testimonial of the Imagineers who are at an all-time low. The testimonials of the new and old cast members, imagine if Marty Sklar was still here I imagine he would never stand for it. Frankly, to end this I have to agree with the one sentiment that tom has it would be the perfect time to have the funds to build a new theme park with all the incredible talent that will be available but, I do offer a better idea, now would be the perfect time to start a new design company like Sally Corp. or Garner Holt, and to hire all the Imagineers leaving, it would be a powerhouse and would almost immediately be put with a lot of work, so I leave that idea to any leaving Imagineers start your own design company pool your funds together and work will come to you.

  50. Sounds like CHEAPek needs to watch The Imagineering Story on Disney+ and see what made the Disney Company what it is today!!!!!

  51. I know some who have worked for Disney. It is no longer Walt Disney’s vision. The corporation now in charge have turned it into the unhappiest place on earth to work. Everything is done to please the woke. Prices are an outrage. I will not support a company who treats loyal employees or loyal fans as their personal wallets.

  52. I hope these changes bring Disney back to its core. The parks are often way too crowded so I appreciate any efforts to make things normal again. I also LOVE the idea of Disney Imagineering and all Disney beling Walt centered rather than media centered.

  53. Same corporate song and dance seen a thousand times. They really want most of them to quit on their own. Then they can hire much younger “yes men/women” that will do anything, have longer career life, and be much CHEAPER TO PAY and not remember how good it used to be.

  54. As a long-term frontline worker in one of the parks, I feel this article could have been written about our department (and others). Seemingly nonsensical changes that *may* save money short term are making the job miserable for so many. Forcing out long-term experienced employees (in an already tight labor market) just to save just a couple of dollars an hour seems like a lousy business plan.

  55. This is such sad news. Another example of a company not recognizing their talent.
    Sadly something like this happened on maybe a smaller scale – at Walt Disney World in Fla. About 12 years ago-the animators – those true artists of the films – including my friend who worked on characters in Mulan and Lilo and Stitch…they experienced a downsizing or cut that made them move.
    My friend – a wildly talented artist- easily found another job at EA. Spent the next years happily watching football as his work assignment for designing Madden games while Disney animation suffered.
    An excellent point was made in this article – the quality of Disney will suffer because the talent will go elsewhere. Penny-wise and pound foolish as the saying goes. I am so disappointed that Disney has made this mistake again and now on a larger scale. I can only hope Six Flags or the Busch franchise will seize this opportunity to grab the talent. Then I might not have to go all the way to Fla for Disney quality, but have it closer to my home in the Carolinas. I am a long time Disney fan, but this is one more reason that becomes harder to maintain.

  56. Why is leaving California such a problem?? Tons of people are moving away on their own because cost of living is insanely high, and the politics bizarre. Maybe Disney just wants to have Imagineering in a better place so they can spend money on projects, not basic operating expenses.

  57. No organization can transplant culture and talent. These things are not like plants that can be cut from the stalk and replanted. Culture and talent are best when respected, nurtured, supported and rewarded. They grow organically. Seems Disney has not learned their lessons from the ridiculous cost cutting design methodology employed in previous years-eg the original California Adventure
    Mess

  58. I have been going since I was 5 and am now 42, my daughter and I had annual passes that I let cancel because they offered no alternative last year like putting the pass on hold until covid died down, I am high risk and told them I did not want to keep paying if I couldn’t go. I paid a couple of times before the pass cancelled. The rep was awful and just kept telling me no. Then May of 2021 I called and asked if there was any way I could get the passes back…they gave me a ref# told me I HAD to come down from Jax to Disney Springs in person to get the passes. They wouldn’t allow me to just pay online,phone, or have my sister who lives down therr get them for me, who Ill add also USED to be a passholder(her family).. unfortunately my mother passed and I was unable to get down there I called back in August and they told me that I had to have come before the end of May, a fact that was NOT told to me. Now they have these stupid new passes and want to over charge and rob us blind for rides that have been there longer than me and my daughter have been alive. MY last on property stay alone was in the thousands and we weren’t even there a week not to mention food, souvenirs, droids, etc…My family and my sister’s are angry and feel cheated how all this mess went down they used a horrible event to better line their pockets…and don’t even make any substantial impeovements to the parks…I “Imagine” Disney won’t be too successful for much longer treating loyal patrons the way they are now. They also have a hierarchy on how they allow admission/reservations…I dont know much longer they will get any of my money thats from ever stepping into the park again to Marvel, all movies to my disney+ subscription.

  59. “I pray the rest of the themed entertainment industry takes this opportunity to strengthen their rosters”

    Except IAAPA, Universal Creative, and SeaWorld parks are all already based in Orlando. If you want to do major theme park attractions, you’re coming to central Florida.

    I guess you could go to Cedar fair, but then you’d have to live in Ohio. Or Six flags, but they’re in Texas.

      • I’m sure there are, but my point is even groups like MeowWolf aren’t even based in LA.

        If I want to work on Broadway shows, I would need to move to New York, or if I want to work shoreside for the cruise line industry, I’m probably moving to Miami. If I want to work in a incredibly specific niche market like theme park attractions, it makes sense to concentrate the major players in one location (in this case, Orlando)

  60. Nothing in this article is inaccurate. Morale is super low. People are leaving and they are not hiring anyone to replace who left.

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