Walt Disney Imagineering will have a new president in 2022, as company veteran Bob Weis announced Tuesday that he’ll be stepping down to make way for Barbara Bouza, who only joined Imagineering in June 2020.
Weis has worked at the division responsible for creating Disney’s theme parks in two separate stints, the first from 1980 to 1994 and the second from 2008 to the present. His resume includes work on Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and leading creative and design development for the Shanghai Disney Resort. He assumed the president’s role in 2016.
In a letter announcing the leadership change to Imagineering staff, Weis wrote:
“As Imagineers, we are inspired by our history and by those who helped shape it. Disney Legend Marty Sklar — who was a close friend and mentor to me — served as a visionary leader at Imagineering for over five decades and, ultimately, became our Global Imagineering Ambassador. In this role, Marty was able to invest in our legacy as a way to build our future, mentor and advocate for our talent, recruit the next generations of Imagineers, and help record our history through his writing. Today, I am excited to announce that I will follow Marty’s lead and assume the Global Imagineering Ambassador role beginning next year.
“I am confident about transitioning into this role now after working with Barbara Bouza over the past 16 months and knowing that the future of Imagineering is secure under her leadership. Barbara has taken on increasing responsibility during her tenure, and I am continually impressed with her talent, her leadership and the relationships she’s already built across our company. I’m also very grateful to have the full support of Josh D’Amaro, who has demonstrated his commitment to Imagineering time and time again and his belief that WDI is critical to our company’s future and overall success.”
Bouza came to WDI in June 2020 after serving as co-managing director of architectural firm Gensler Los Angeles. At Imagineering, her title has been president of business operations, design and delivery. She has also served in several outside roles, including a spot on the board of Imagine LA, a non-profit which seeks to prevent homelessness and help families achieve stable housing.
Handing the reins of the fabled Disney creative division to someone who has only been with the company for 18 months is only the latest shakeup since Bob Chapek became CEO of the Walt Disney Company.
Like other Disney segments, Imagineering laid off hundreds of employees in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last November, Joe Rohde opted to retire after 40 years with the company.
The most dramatic change was announced in July, when Disney said that it will move most Imagineering jobs to a new campus in Orlando’s Lake Nona community. Realtors told WKMG earlier this month that workers are already shopping for houses, but at least one veteran Imagineer, Kevin Lively, decided to leave the company rather than relocate.
As for Weis’s departure, an unnamed former Imagineer told The Wrap that there is “no safe ground to stand on” within WDI.