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Bruce Vaughn will return to Disney to co-lead Walt Disney Imagineering, the division responsible for designing and building the company’s theme parks and attractions.
Vaughn will return as chief creative officer and head the division alongside Barbara Bouza, president of Walt Disney Imagineering. The two will report to Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
The longtime executive previously worked at Disney for more than two decades and co-led Walt Disney Imagineering for nine years as chief creative executive. He left the company in 2016 to become CEO and CCO of Dreamscape Immersive, a company that creates location-based virtual reality experiences. He joined Airbnb in 2021 as vp experiential creative product, where he led a team responsible for designing immersive offerings for Airbnb stays and experiences.
“I’ve remained an Imagineer at heart, so I’m thrilled to join Barbara and reunite with this phenomenal global team of creators and innovators during this pivotal time,” Vaughn said.
Added Bouza, “With so many exciting projects under way and tremendous opportunities ahead of us, I look forward to partnering with Bruce to fuel creativity and deliver next-level experiences.”
In a memo to Disney staff about Vaughn’s return, D’Amaro highlighted CEO Bob Iger’s emphasis on creativity, as well as the opportunity for Vaughn and Bouza to work together on “significant developments under way and more on the horizon.” The two will also be working on a plan to find the “most effective way to structure Imagineering.”
“In Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, we continue to invest in new endeavors that deliver the most compelling experiences, immersing our guests around the world in the stories they love most. In the past few years, we have found ourselves at the crossroads of a wave of new technology and a seemingly unlimited amount of new stories and franchises, allowing us to develop groundbreaking new experiences. Of course, none of this comes to life without a strong commitment to creativity and innovation by the amazing team at Walt Disney Imagineering,” D’Amaro wrote in the memo.
The division has had a co-leadership model since 2009. Bouza had been leading the division herself since December 2021, after Bob Weis moved to global Imagineering ambassador and then retired.
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products made changes to its pricing and parking policies at its theme parks earlier this year, offering more days of its lowest priced pass and offering more parking flexibility to consumers, after a push from former CEO Bob Chapek to drive up profits.
Vaughn will begin in the role March 20.
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