Walt Disney Imagineering President Bob Weis has announced that he is stepping down from his position leading Disney's theme park design division. Barbara Bouza, who was named WDI's President, Business Operations, Design & Delivery in June 2020, will replace Weis as President of WDI.
Weis took his current position as head of Imagineering in January 2016, replacing the team of Bruce Vaughn and Craig Russell. Weis first joined Disney during the construction of Epcot in 1980, moving on to help lead the development of what opened as Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) in 1989. After leading the scuttled Disney's America project, Weis left Disney to form his own design firm, returning in 2008. Another string of hits followed, leading up to the opening of Shanghai Disneyland in 2016.
The Themed Entertainment Association honored Weis with its Buzz Price Thea Award for a Lifetime of Outstanding Achievements in 2020. Bob and I talked about his long career in an interview I posted late last year, in which he described his work for the US Navy designing what sounded like an actual Kobayashi Maru simulation, among many other accomplishments.
Weis will take on a new role for WDI as Global Imagineering Ambassador, a position once held by the late Marty Sklar.
Bouza, whom you can follow on Instagram here, joined Disney from architecture, design, and planning firm Gensler Los Angeles, where she was Managing Director, Principal for nearly 19 years.
"I am confident about transitioning into this role now after working with Barbara Bouza over the past 16 months and knowing that the future of Imagineering is secure under her leadership," Weis said. "Barbara has taken on increasing responsibility during her tenure, and I am continually impressed with her talent, her leadership and the relationships she’s already built across our company."
Weis' move follows a string of recent departures from Walt Disney Imagineering, including Joe Rohde, Kevin Rafferty, Amy Jupiter, Dave Durham, Jim Shull, and Kevin Lively.
WDI is in the process of moving from its long-time headquarters in Glendale to a new campus located near the Orlando International Airport, following the State of Florida paying Disney a reported half a billion dollars to make the move. Yet only Lively has said that his departure is directly linked to the Florida move.
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