Disney sends Cars Land's lead designer to Florida

August 8, 2012, 8:15 PM · Hey, Kathy Mangum, you just led the design team for Cars Land, which helped turn California Adventure - a one-time embarrassment for Disney - into America's hottest theme park. What are you going to do now?

Kathy Mangum
Kathy Mangum, left, with John Lasseter and Buena Vista Street lead Imagineer Lisa Girolami, before the rededication of Disney California Adventure in June.

You're going to Disney World!

(Sorry, that lead was so easy, I simply couldn't resist.)

Yep, Disney announced today that it is shipping Walt Disney Imagineering's Kathy Mangum off to Florida, where she will assume the newly-created position of "Executive Producer" for the Walt Disney World Resort, overseeing attraction and resort design at WDW.

You could go nuts trying to draft a linear organizational chart for Walt Disney Imagineering, which is co-lead by Craig Russell and Bruce Vaughn, with four senior vice presidents and six executive vice presidents (plus an additional VP for Tokyo Disney) on the management roster, too. Mangum's one of those executive VPs, and Avatar lead designer Joe Rohde is one of the senior VPs (along with Tony Baxter, to drop another name). It's a huge team, with heaven only knows how many projects going at once. So at this point, all I'll read into the announcement is that Disney is very, very happy with the money that Mangum's latest project is making for the company and would very much like new projects at Walt Disney World to make gobs of money for Disney just like Cars Land is doing, thank you.

The easiest way to make that happen might seem to bring in Mangum to build a Cars Land at Walt Disney World, perhaps at the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park - the proto-California Adventure. But let's not forget that the two coasts don't always embrace identical new attractions with the same fervor. Toy Story Midway Mania draws better in Florida than it does in Anaheim, while Star Tours 2 hit bigger in Disneyland than at WDW. There's no guarantee that Cars Land would be as big a hit in Florida as it has been at the Disneyland Resort.

Still, it's generally good news for theme park fans when Imagineers get promotions within the Walt Disney Company, instead of accountants. Let's hope some fat design and construction budgets, bathed in green lights, are following Mangum to Central Florida, too.

Replies (24)

August 8, 2012 at 8:52 PM · I think that Magnum would be best used to create a new easily themed land at WDW that is not cars land. They should choose a different Disney story to go off of rather than repeat. If they do not repeat they and they can build a comparable land in Florida then the parks on both coats would have better drawing power. Maybe a different Pixar movie (the incredibles or up ) or go with movie everyone loves like a complete lion king area somewhere since avatar is rumored to go in camp Minnie Mickey and festival of the lion king should be saved. They could have a pride rock dark ride and a Hakuna matata flume ride. Everyone loves lion king
August 8, 2012 at 9:11 PM · Please be Star Wars Land, please be Star Wars Land!!!
August 8, 2012 at 9:20 PM · This news, along with Robert's upcoming "How to Fix Theme Parks" project, sounds like more than coincidence, and that can only be a great thing.
August 8, 2012 at 9:29 PM · Perhaps to design the 'Airplanes' land to go along with the upcoming movie? But I sure don't mind seeing Cars Land at WDW either.
August 8, 2012 at 9:59 PM · I've always thought that if they did replicate CarsLand that they could do a racing eticket but not in radiator springs ...why not do Tokyo, Monaco or one of the other places in cars 2 ...I think that'd be an awesome way to spread cars land but keeping it unique as well.
But as the previous comment said there's so many great Disney movies that haven't been made into a ride. I was really hoping they'd do a beauty and the beast ride in new fantasyland.
August 8, 2012 at 11:37 PM · Jason...unfortunately the planes movie is a direct to DVD/blu ray film...not a theatrical release so there will probably never be an attraction based on it. Personally I think it would've been a success...maybe even more so than brave. Anyways...this can only be good news for disneyworld and they need it!
August 9, 2012 at 12:40 AM · Really? I thought "Airplanes" was going to be direct-to-video. Wouldn't think that would be a good movie to base a land on.
August 9, 2012 at 2:01 AM · Considering how immersive Cars Land is, as well as how much is riding on the success of the Avatar project for DAK, I think it is a pretty safe bet that she will be concentrating on that project for the next few years. I just hope that James Cameron is working hard on getting the sequels done so that we have more source material for the area.
August 9, 2012 at 2:56 AM · Why would you send a highly qualified imagineer to Orlando to put a carbon copy of the exact same ride/land in WDW? You could send them a projectmanager and the blue prints.
Don't get me wrong, I love Carsland. They are telling a new story (unlike mermaid) and add to the world but they could tell a different story as the CA one. Thats what Disney wants, a reason for guests to travel the globe to see all Disney parks?
I think the whole Hollywood studios get a rework. That would be great new. The only thing Disney should have learned from their mistake and their new found succes is that Disney can't go the cheap road, their customers aren't stupid so don't treat them that way.
August 9, 2012 at 3:32 AM · Joe Rohde's got the Avatar expansion (just hope he doesn't make the same mistake he did with Everest's Yeti), so Kathy is going to get some other duty. Definitely DHS and Epcot both need a whole lotta love, and despite my wishes to the contrary, I am guessing it will be DHS that gets her magical touch.

Would be nice for Tony Baxter to work on Epcot, but rumors are he will be working on Dinseyland's huge Big Thunder Mountain makeover....

August 9, 2012 at 5:48 AM · @Jason, the first thing I thought of when I read your Airplanes idea was a land with animatronic Leslie Nielsons all over the place. Dont call me shirley.
August 9, 2012 at 6:51 AM · "The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of strollers only. Please do not park your stroller in the white zone.

"No, the RED zone is for immediate loading and unloading of strollers only...."

August 9, 2012 at 7:49 AM · They need to fix DHS as the first priority. The studios park has stagnated worse than the other parks.
August 9, 2012 at 8:04 AM · Kathy was brought in to be the face of Orlando's WDI. From what I understand she'll be focusing on DHS at the outset.

Star Wars isn't in the picture.

August 9, 2012 at 10:02 AM · Kudos for the Airplane reference, Joe and Robert.... and please, don't call me Shirley.
August 9, 2012 at 10:27 AM · I vote for something to go in the southwest corner of DHS to replace the stunt show area. Star Wars land, another Pixar brand, or whatever. Just let it be at least 2 rides that will make DHS a true all day park.
August 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM · To anoymous user that said "Thats what Disney wants, a reason for guests to travel the globe to see all Disney parks?"
No, they don't.
Disney doesn't want anyone but Japanese to go to Tokyo Disneyland (for multiple reasons)
Disney doesn't expect anyone outside of Europe and the Middle East to go to Disneyland Paris.
As for the stateside Disney parks, they have divided the world more or less in half. Disneyland gets the Western US (west of the Rockies) and the Pacific Rim (including Australia). Disney World gets the rest. Disneyland doesn't advertise outside of those areas and Disney World doesn't advertise outside of their areas either, nor does either one go after vacationeers outside of those areas. The one exception is national advertising plays everywhere.

So having unique attrations in parks around the world doesn't play into Disney's marketing plan nor it's capital budgets plan (duplicate attractions save money on design, engineering, etc).

August 9, 2012 at 12:13 PM · @Ted As Robert explained expertly in this article:
Disney knows and wants it's customer democrapics to change into the richer people they are catering to now. They even want to take them on vacations around the world and I think they would like them, if they got bored, to visit with them other Disney parks around the world.
You are right when you say copy and pasting attractions is the cheapest way to go but by tweeking them (as they do in almost all of their rides, shows and themings) it gives those guests an insentive to open their wallet even farther.
Btw my name is Otto (not the robot you get at DL).
August 9, 2012 at 3:56 PM · He's working on Avatar Land
August 9, 2012 at 4:15 PM · I'd actually prefer it if different parks had some attractions unique to that particular resort....It allows each park to have a certain individuality. I think Carsland works at DLR, and it would be nice if WDW would get something completely different (I was that lone person initially shouting "No Tranformers" for USO, this is USH moment to have something cool, haha.......but now I'd think it would be nice if the Fl park gets it)

With that said, I also understand the need to replicate attractions. Not everyone will have a chance to travel & experience those other attractions, so I see both sides of it.

As long as new attractions are going up, no matter what or where they are, I'm happy :-)

August 9, 2012 at 5:45 PM · I am a believer in what Robert Niles said about Disney giving a good offer to Universal for some Marvel Character Rights. Quite shocking how fast Universal is building Transformers. Did a secret meeting happen in June with both companies. Could DHS get the first taste of the Avengers.
August 9, 2012 at 6:17 PM · Every Disney park has at least 1 unique e ticket with exception to magic kingdom...unless I'm mistaken (not sure if hall of presidents is eticket even though its a great attraction. Although the 7 dwarfs mine ride will end that.That's pretty cool along with that they all look a little different and unique too is incentive enough for me to visit! That's pretty cool.
August 10, 2012 at 12:33 AM · A Flying coaster themed after Iron Man.... A Dark 4-d type ride themed after Thor..... A Captain America show (playing off of the shows he put on in the movie promoting the military?).... What else could go in an Avengers land?

This would be cool..... be I will say what Hollywood Studios needs to me is probably something that is family friendly since it is already home to the two most thrill focused rides at WDW..... and really if you were going to be a adrenelene junkie you might choose Universal IOA first anyway.

Here is my big thing I'd like WDW Resort to fix (since people keep mentioning Robert's article about fixing things)...... Kali River Rapids. Please make it more of a rapid ride and less of just a trip up and down a hill and then you float a long a little big under some water shooting until you get back to the station. I'm much more impressed by Grizzle River Run in DCA. It has both the drops that Disney seemed to want to incoporate AND rapids. Kali is hardly a real rapid ride because it lacks rapids.

I'm glad that someone who did such high caliber work at DCA is headed to our side of the US to do work! I hope she impresses us!

August 10, 2012 at 1:06 AM · It seems like the thought of putting something Pixar ish in at DHS has been brought up before (maybe since Cars is Pixar and was used at DCA for her big project. Some Pixar films that might be able to be used for a E-ticket ride at DHS...... The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL E, Monster Inc., Up, Bolt, and Brave.

The Monster Inc. Door themed coaster concept I have heard thrown around sounds interesting for a Family-friendly e-ticket.

I think Bolt would be a great fit to be utilized at DHS since the dog was suppose to be an actor. It may not get it's own land, but a show or dark ride.... or even a way to incorporate it into a car chase type situation.... like if they recreated a Bolt action scene like what was being filmed at the beginning of the movie.

Up would be awesome if they could utilize the floating house into a ride somehow.

The Incredibles also seems like something that would fit in at DHS since it is an Action Hero type theme to the movie and that probably fits best into this park out of the four at WDW resort.

Of course, they could always just do Radiator Springs and tweak it a little to make it slightly different for the West Coast. I'd be happy to see Radiator Springs Racers in DHS!

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