according to news reports. The executives are taking an NBCUniversal early retirement buyout offer for team members over the age of 57 or who have been at the company for more than 10 years.Thierry Coup, Mike Hightower, and other long-time leaders at Universal Creative are leaving the company,
Universal long has been known for management stability in its theme park division, where Tom Williams ran the shop for decades, with Mark Woodbury charge of the creative team. At the end of last year, Williams retired, but Woodbury moved up to run Universal Parks & Resorts, keeping the leadership transition in house. With Hightower moving up to replace Woodbury, it seemed that Universal was settling in for another run of stability, this time leading up to the opening of the new Epic Universe theme park in Orlando in 2025.
Now, many of Universal Creative’s iconic leaders heading out the door. Coup has been Universal Creative’s Chief Creative Officer and Senior Vice President, having overseen The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Super Nintendo World, and many other acclaimed projects for the company. In addition to his year serving as Universal Creative’s new President, Hightower most recently oversaw the development of Universal Beijing Resort.
TheWrap also is reporting that Mike Harrington, vice president, engineering and safety at Universal Studios Florida, has taken the buyout.
Depending upon what these creative leaders want to do next, there could now be a stunning collection of talent on the market soon, especially when you consider the recent departures over at Walt Disney Imagineering. Could some Universal Creative people end up over at WDI? Could some Imagineers be heading over to new roles at Universal? The two companies have a long history of seeing designers bounce back and forth between them.
Or could other theme park companies pick up some big names now on the market? Or might some departing Universal leaders be ready to start their own themed entertainment design shops? Stay tuned for big changes happening on the creative side of the business.
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