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  • Disney Scrapping Imagineering

    http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hi...7/25/4475.aspx

    Given WDI's poisonous corporate culture (Not to mention how free some Imagineers seem to be with money), Bob Iger has reportedly decided that it's time to make some pretty significant changes at 1401 Flower Street. Similar to those 650 jobs that will soon be cut at Walt Disney Studios as Iger radically revamps operations on that side of the Mouse House, rumors are now flying that Bob is looking to let 200-300 people go from Walt Disney Imagineering. Which would effectively gut this division of the company.

    "And what would happen after that?," you query. Well, according to what I've been hearing, Iger would leave only a few key executives & creatives in place at WDI. And these folks ... Well, they'd then have to rebuild Walt Disney Imagineering as more of a project-management-based operation. Where artists & designers would only be hired to work on a particular project and then let go as soon as their assignment was complete.
    So sad...but it had to happen eventually. Who knows, maybe this will be for the better given that most of the companies Disney hires will probably have former imagineers in them.
    Last edited by mattjbhs; 08-04-2006, 01:07 PM.


  • #2
    Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

    If the source is true, I think it is a good idea. I mean why should Disney keep paying employees they don't need?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

      Originally posted by mattjbhs
      http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hi...7/25/4475.aspx



      So sad...but it had to happen eventually. Who knows, maybe this will be for the better given that most of the companies Disney hires will probably have former imagineers in them.
      I read that article on Jim Hill Media too.
      I go to his site for s*its and giggles...
      You have to consider the source...
      He says a WHOLE lot that never comes true or surfaces.
      That's more a rumor site (IMHO) than anything else.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

        I've also heard about this first hand from an imagineer who was layed-off recently (just that it was a rumor going around), then again you're right that I don't know whether or not jim hill media is a credible source. But hasn't Imagineering been slowly creeping more and more to simple project-management anyway, so it's not really a surprise to me.

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        • #5
          Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

          itsa rumor shhh
          Come to the dark side,
          we have cookies.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

            imagineering has gotten too big for it's britches. if Iger doesn't plan on building theme parks they don't need a huge staff. and if they do the cookie cutter mentallity that i see coming they only need a skeleton crew because they will put the same ride in two or three areas at the same time. how many designers need to do that?

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            • #7
              Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

              They say there's a "shred of truth" in every rumor, and me knows this rumor will result in lots of "shredding". WDI is going to the outside and losing lots of Imagineers, probably by the end of Summer. Let's hope its mostly the 9 managers they have for each artist.
              "As usual he's taken over the coolest spot in the house"- Father re: Orville 1963

              [FONT=Arial Narrow]

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              • #8
                Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

                To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this.

                On one hand, I can see how reducing the unit would be benificial, artificially boosting your bottom line.

                On the other hand it might make individual projects more costly rather than less, and there will be a tendancy to go with the cheapest bid... The cheapest bid may not always be the best option... So what you end up with is over priced theme park attractions that are lower in quality than what you would be able to produce with your own staff.

                I think the question is how often would WDI be called to rennovate and build new attractions. If it is with some regularity, then I would keep WDI. If there isn't going to be new projects year in and year out, then I would let go of the unit...

                There is a half way option, which is what they have been doing currently. Keeping staffing on contract as opposed to regular hire. That way there would be flexablity in the work force.

                I don't think eather addresses the real problem with the unit... And that is culture with in the unit underneith current management... If there is going to be a bloodletting, I would start at the top and work down... In an effort to change the culture from limiting projects based on greenlight budget to flexable budgets under a given time fraim. Delaying them untill a certain profit target has been reached.

                This keeps projects constantly in the hopper independant of their cost. They then can be greenlit based on what financial feasablity.
                Check out my other blog:

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                • #9
                  Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

                  I have read this article as well. I'm going to have to say that this is not a true rumor. For Disney to cut WDI would be cutting out the heart. WDI was founded by Disney himself and they are the people that create the magic. I don't think there is any Disney executive who would even consider cutting WDI and changing the process they follow. WDI is the envy of every other entertainment company in the world. Others try constantly to copy they way they do things and fail miserably.

                  Another reason I don't so much believe this rumor deals largely with the recent Pixar acquisition. John Lasseter has been named as a creative member of WDI with significant influence there. I don't think this choice would be made and then a choice to decapitate WDI and make them mere project-management. Besides, having them be a project-management style department would completely obliterate their ability to do what it is they do. The way they work is to sit and dream together and grow new technologies and things from the ground up. This is not something you can do effectively or with any degree of quality (let alone the quality that is expected of Disney) when you are hiring people for the short term only and they know that. For WDI to work, they need to be lifers. People who bleed Disney.

                  As for the quality of Disney... it has been slipping of late, but I blame this more on executives higher up the chain than Imagineering and budget cuts. They are focusing way to much on marketing and advertising and inventing "gimicks" to get people to come to the park when they should be focusing on the R&D and WDI to invent the newest and best in the industry to get people to want to come to the park for the parks sake rather than because they were talked into it or "gimmicked" into it.

                  I think Walt, were he still alive, would enjoy the parks and the offerings they have, but I think he would have a fit of apoplexy at how they are being managed and his company run.

                  Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

                    Originally posted by mycroft16
                    I have read this article as well. I'm going to have to say that this is not a true rumor. For Disney to cut WDI would be cutting out the heart. WDI was founded by Disney himself and they are the people that create the magic. I don't think there is any Disney executive who would even consider cutting WDI and changing the process they follow. WDI is the envy of every other entertainment company in the world. Others try constantly to copy they way they do things and fail miserably.

                    Another reason I don't so much believe this rumor deals largely with the recent Pixar acquisition. John Lasseter has been named as a creative member of WDI with significant influence there. I don't think this choice would be made and then a choice to decapitate WDI and make them mere project-management. Besides, having them be a project-management style department would completely obliterate their ability to do what it is they do. The way they work is to sit and dream together and grow new technologies and things from the ground up. This is not something you can do effectively or with any degree of quality (let alone the quality that is expected of Disney) when you are hiring people for the short term only and they know that. For WDI to work, they need to be lifers. People who bleed Disney.

                    As for the quality of Disney... it has been slipping of late, but I blame this more on executives higher up the chain than Imagineering and budget cuts. They are focusing way to much on marketing and advertising and inventing "gimicks" to get people to come to the park when they should be focusing on the R&D and WDI to invent the newest and best in the industry to get people to want to come to the park for the parks sake rather than because they were talked into it or "gimmicked" into it.

                    I think Walt, were he still alive, would enjoy the parks and the offerings they have, but I think he would have a fit of apoplexy at how they are being managed and his company run.
                    Welcome to the 21st century. Hope you find your stay a pleasant one!





                    FWIW... the Imagineering you're describing is WED Enterprises. That died out years ago, when WDI was born.
                    "Dope smoking insects and reckless driving always work." -- Cousin Orville

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

                      Originally posted by Cousin Orville
                      They say there's a "shred of truth" in every rumor, and me knows this rumor will result in lots of "shredding". WDI is going to the outside and losing lots of Imagineers, probably by the end of Summer. Let's hope its mostly the 9 managers they have for each artist.
                      Were these the same managers who supposedly called for a meeting with Lasseter last month, and apparently were told that he wouldn't be available until mid-October?

                      :whistling
                      "Dope smoking insects and reckless driving always work." -- Cousin Orville

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

                        Originally posted by mycroft16
                        I have read this article as well. I'm going to have to say that this is not a true rumor. For Disney to cut WDI would be cutting out the heart. WDI was founded by Disney himself and they are the people that create the magic. I don't think there is any Disney executive who would even consider cutting WDI and changing the process they follow. WDI is the envy of every other entertainment company in the world. Others try constantly to copy they way they do things and fail miserably.

                        Another reason I don't so much believe this rumor deals largely with the recent Pixar acquisition. John Lasseter has been named as a creative member of WDI with significant influence there. I don't think this choice would be made and then a choice to decapitate WDI and make them mere project-management. Besides, having them be a project-management style department would completely obliterate their ability to do what it is they do. The way they work is to sit and dream together and grow new technologies and things from the ground up. This is not something you can do effectively or with any degree of quality (let alone the quality that is expected of Disney) when you are hiring people for the short term only and they know that. For WDI to work, they need to be lifers. People who bleed Disney.

                        As for the quality of Disney... it has been slipping of late, but I blame this more on executives higher up the chain than Imagineering and budget cuts. They are focusing way to much on marketing and advertising and inventing "gimicks" to get people to come to the park when they should be focusing on the R&D and WDI to invent the newest and best in the industry to get people to want to come to the park for the parks sake rather than because they were talked into it or "gimmicked" into it.

                        I think Walt, were he still alive, would enjoy the parks and the offerings they have, but I think he would have a fit of apoplexy at how they are being managed and his company run.

                        Uhm ... yeah. Disney didn't shut down its animation unit either, right?

                        And WDI is a mere shadow of what it once was. It's filled with layers on money managers and Imagineers with less creativity that some of the folks here ... the corpse has been rotting for years. It's time to remove the dead limbs and try and resusitate the heart ... if that means 'outsiders' (mostly people too good for Disney to keep) get the work, so be it.

                        But you need to wake up to reality ... as painful as it may be.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

                          Oh, I am awake to reality.

                          Disney Animation wasn't shut down, they were simply shunted into 3D animation (look at the number of films they have coming out in the next 2 years... they're still busy as ever. Moreso even.) and now semi-merged with Pixar in the merger deal.

                          Imagineering is filled with money managers and rotting corpses and I agree that there needs to be a massive "weeding" of the garden as it were. But to cut everyone and make it project-management doesn't seem like a likely occurance.

                          As for WED becoming WDI, I was merely making the comparisson on the basis of the mission of the departments... to Imagineer. The name and corporate structure changed, but the idea behind it stayed the same. And of late the quality has changed to.

                          Besides... I can hope with starry-eyed optimism that what's right will win out over what's cost effective and makes some guy that doesn't care a whit about the parks a massive wad of cash, right?

                          Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

                            Originally posted by mycroft16
                            But to cut everyone and make it project-management doesn't seem like a likely occurance.
                            So says you.

                            Besides... I can hope with starry-eyed optimism that what's right will win out over what's cost effective and makes some guy that doesn't care a whit about the parks a massive wad of cash, right?
                            "What is right" is for talented creative artisans to work at Imagineering again, even if they're simply contractual. One of the best of the best Imagineering has ever known was terminated almost five years ago, and now managing his own design firm. And he isn't just "some guy that doesn't care a whit about the parks." Far from it.

                            I'd much rather have Steve Kirk and Craig Hanna working with a project management-based Imagineering as contractors, than allow the status quo to remain in Glendale, even with John Lasseter acting as Principle Creative. And hopefully, I'll be getting my wish by October.

                            "Dope smoking insects and reckless driving always work." -- Cousin Orville

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Disney Scrapping Imagineering

                              The adventure continues at WDI. For the past five years WDI has laid off the best of the best...Steve Kirk, Tim Kirk, Bruce Gordon, Nina Rae Vaughn and many many more. While other non-creative creative people have taken their place...and the results are as clear as DCA, Disney Studios Paris and Journey into YOUR Imagination. These "creative" people have survived because they work well with the financial folks and the project managers. Now the project managers dominate the division because the weak "creative" leadership let them. Let's hope any future layoffs get rid of both the weak "creative" leadership and the tight-fisted project managers...that's a big hope but it happened at Feature Animation!

                              Now here's the danger. There is a handfull of good folks left at WDI...Tony Baxter and Joe Rohde are recognizable names to most people but there are others less well known. Let's hope these folks don't loose their jobs because they hold the only connection to the WED of the old days. If these guys survive and are allowed to participate in a rebuilding of WED lead by John Lasseter there could be a great rebirth.

                              I know, I know...this is guaranteed to happen because John and Tony a best friends, bothers even, closer than brothers...right? Unfortunately, just as there is some truth in every rumor, the internet also has an incredible power to enhance the truth, shall we say.

                              The two guys know each other, but Lasseter will be facing some tough choices as time goes on and he will have to choose his battles. Tony and Imagineering are just one of his interests and John is just one of many people whispering in Bob Iger's ear. Bob also has former Strat Planners, Jay Rasulo and Tom Staggs, corrupt "Creative" executives from WDI and Project Managers doing more than a little whispering. They are all telling Bob that he will make more money for the shareholders if he does it their way.

                              This year will give us the final act for WDI. But what will emerge from the ashes? A rebirth of WED? Or a project management company that gives us more disconnected, disjointed projects with no unified vision?

                              So, I end my short time at MiceChat with a question.

                              It's been fun. I'll see you in the parks. I still go twice a month just like Walt said.

                              Bye.
                              Last edited by Pete; 08-12-2006, 09:15 AM.

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