Imagineering to Move to Florida
The Walt Disney Company recently announced it would be moving 2,000 jobs to the central Florida neighborhood of Lake Nona.
Walt Disney Imagineering will move from 1401 Flower Street in Glendale to the new office park. The Glendale offices have been home to Imagineering since 1965.
Many Imagineers have been voicing their dismay at the move on social media.
Walt Disney World officially confirms the new regional campus in Lake Nona for 2,000 Cast Members, Imagineers and employees. pic.twitter.com/xIro3RqPcf
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) July 15, 2021
One Imagineer, Bruce Vaughn, is reminding Imagineers to keep the Imagineering spirit alive. Bruce was previously the chief creative executive at WDI.
You can see Bruce in this video celebrating 60 years of Imagineering from 2012.
Hopefully you’ve seen the five-part series of Imagineering videos from last year’s Disney Magic Moments. Each video takes you behind the scenes at 1401 Flower Street.
You can also learn more about Imagineering in “The Imagineering Story” on Disney+. And we can’t wait to watch the new series “Behind the Attraction” which debuts on Disney+ today!
Note on the move of Imagineering
Here’s the full text of Bruce Vaughn’s post to fellow Imagineers:
A letter to my fellow Imagineers. When I first heard the news that WDI would be relocated to Florida, my first reaction was, “The beginning of the end.” I felt sickened, as I’m sure many of you do. Not because Florida is a bad place. In fact, some of you already live there or are excited by this change.
My feelings were more about the apparent insensitivity and lack of appreciation for the uniqueness and innovative spirit that is so critical to Imagineering’s success. The move seems to be motivated by an ever increasing focus on managing the bottom line through cutting expenses versus confidently funding the creative engine that is core to the tremendous success of the Parks & Resorts segment.
It reminded me of the post Frank Wells period when the company believed a diminished version of the parks product would be as successful as the full blown execution of immersive experiences that differentiated Disney parks from day one.
I reached out and talked to many of my Imagineer friends to hear how they were doing. Mostly not well. The consistent theme was of being marginalized, misunderstood, greatly under appreciated… all severely damaging to a creative organization.
I was angry. I allowed myself to be angry for a few days. I embraced that feeling. Then I woke up
yesterday and thought that anger wasn’t going to solve anything. It felt good to be angry, but continuing to feel angry or defeated would manifest my first thought, the beginning of the end.
Well, my friends, that just is not acceptable. The fact is the fate of Imagineering and all it stands for and will accomplish in the future does not reside with corporate or the CEO or anyone who’s primary job is to manage the bottom line.
It resides with all of you. You are a powerful, strong tribe who bring a unique form of joy to the world through your hard work and passion. Do not let that be diminished, or worse, die. It’s too valuable and precious.
Imagineering is a way of being, a spirit. It is not defined by geography. That spirit transcends geography. In fact, as I walked my dogs yesterday contemplating if I should write this message, it occurred to me that if Walt had been able to build his EPCOT, a true city of the future, he probably would have moved to Florida to live in his utopia. It is reasonable to assume he would bring his most treasured tribe, WED, with him. I believe those Imagineers would have enthusiastically followed him.
Well, that spiritual icon doesn’t exist today. It hasn’t for decades, but the spirit that he and those original Imagineers brought to life has never died. And it won’t die because of this most recent disruption… if you don’t let it.
Understand that the executives making these life changing decisions have very difficult jobs. Like it or not, managing the bottom line and keeping Wall Street enthusiastic is a very stressful, difficult job.
Not every decision will be popular. Mistakes will be made. Emotions will run high. People will be hurt emotionally. Business is a tough, often brutally insensitive creature. The thing that makes Disney worth the discomfort, long hours, hard work, passion, is what all of that expended energy brings to the world.
When I was feeling down about something while running Imagineering, I would go and watch the guests’ reaction to one of our parades. I didn’t watch the parade, I watched them.
Every time I would tear up when a parent would see the pure wonder and joy on their children’s faces. We made those parents heroes in their child’s eyes. We brought out the inner child in those adults. For a moment, a day, a week, we transported people to a fantastic world in which dreams come true and magic really does exist.
I realize that for some of you this is probably the end of a wonderful chapter in your lives. The decision to relocate will be too difficult. To all of you I say, embrace the pain or sadness. Live in it. It’s okay to feel sad. But limit those feelings and embrace whatever decision you make.
For those who leave, know that there is a big, wonderful world of opportunity for you. I speak from experience. Your talents and experience is valuable and desired. If that’s what you want. Or maybe it’s time to just relax.
For those of you who will stay, don’t be a victim. I’m sorry if that’s a harsh thing to say. I appreciate the disruption and discomfort you are and will go through. But that Imagineering spirit is strong in you! Have as much faith in yourselves as all of us outside have in you. The dream of Imagineering is much bigger than this most recent challenge. Rise to this challenge, Imagineers. Onward!
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