While normal following the completion of large projects from Walt Disney Imagineering, rumors suggest that over 200 Imagineers were let go in layoffs this week as part of a division-wide reorganization. With the completion of Shanghai Disneyland the design phase for upcoming large projects such as the Star Wars themed land, Disney Parks and Resorts would have no need for so many Imagineers to fill out a more limited list of projects. Apparently, some of the higher level layoffs were voluntary, but some of the bigger names in the WDI repertoire may be exiting when the dust has settled. Among the names rumored for exit are Tom Fitzgerald and Joe Rohde, two of the most prolific Imagineers of the last 30 years.
Rohde was instrumental in the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Aulani, and the upcoming Pandora: The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Rohde was most recently put in charge of Marvel projects and is heading up Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout for Disney California Adventure. Joe’s resume most notably includes work on Captain EO, Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, Maelstrom, Disneyland’s New Fantasyland, the Adventurer’s Club, and Expedition Everest, just to name a few. His exit from the company will not be immediate as he will complete the AVATAR project before what should be an earlier-than-expected retirement.
As always with rumors, they are not official in any way until confirmed, and it is possible that Rohde and Fitzferald are not involved in the layoffs.
Source: WDW News Today
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