Former WDI lead Bruce Vaughn returns to Walt Disney Imagineering as Chief Creative Officer

23 days ago in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Tuesday March 7, 2023 3:27pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Former Imagineer Bruce Vaughn is making a surprise return to Walt Disney Imagineering as co-lead of Disney's theme park creative team.

Disney Parks head Josh D'Amaro made the announcement in a memo to Cast Members today. Bruce will take up the role effective March 20, and will co-lead the organization with WDI President Barbara Bouza, with both leaders reporting directly to D'Amaro.

In a post on Instagram, Vaughn said, "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 joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1993 as a senior technical specialist and moved up to Chief Creative Executive where he led WDI with Bob Weis.

Here is the full memo from Josh D'Amaro.

As Bob Iger often says, creativity is the heart and soul of who we are and what we do at Disney. In fact, as we look at our company’s 100-year history of bringing captivating and memorable storytelling to life, the consistent thread that binds us together as a company across all segments is our ability to drive innovation through creative projects.

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.

With this in mind, I’m pleased to share that effective March 20, Bruce Vaughn is returning to Walt Disney Imagineering as the Chief Creative Officer. Bruce will co-lead the organization with WDI President Barbara Bouza, with both leaders reporting directly to me.

Together, Bruce and Barbara will partner closely to connect visionary creative thinking with project opportunities and flawless execution and delivery. With significant developments under way and more on the horizon, this dedicated focus toward creativity and innovation will help us deliver next-level experiences well into the future. To best accomplish this, they will be working together to swiftly identify the most effective way to structure Imagineering.

Many of you have had the opportunity to work with Bruce previously. He has a deep history with Imagineering, serving for more than two decades in leadership roles including with WDI R&D, as well as co-leading the entire WDI organization as Chief Creative Executive for nine years. Bruce left Disney in 2016 to become CEO and CCO of Dreamscape Immersive where he worked with teams to advance virtual reality technologies for mainstream location-based entertainment, and most recently was with
Airbnb where he developed and led the Experiential Creative Product team.

Please join me in welcoming Bruce back to Disney.

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lazyboy97o3 days ago

Exclusivity is still a somewhat recent phenomenon, is not universal and is not perpetual.

Disnutz3113 days ago

Pretty sure that OLC makes Disney sign exclusivity contracts not to take their rides and use them elsewhere. So you won't see 90% of that list. At this point, I think OLC funds about half of costs for Imagineering with their amazing projects they want. There is a reason my next visit to a Disney Park is in Tokyo. Just waiting on Fantasy Springs to get completed! Tokyo 9/2024

doctornick3 days ago

I tend to agree. In particular for WDW, I'd prefer to clone from international parks especially the Asian ones since the crossover in customers is so small. Some of the attractions I'd love to see considered for WDW include: Monsters Ride and Go Seek Tokyo's BatB Sindbad Journey to the Center of the Earth 20K leagues under the sea (would think that would be a great attraction for Pandora with some modifications Mystic Manor POTC: Battle for Sunken Treasure Among stuff found at DLR, I think they could consider Pinocchio, Alice, Roger Rabbit, Indiana Jones, a version of Matterhorn (a Japan one themed to Mt Fuji), Red Car Trolleys. I'm not saying add all of these or anything, but they would be some relatively easy rides to clone that fit in some different places to add capacity for (relatively) more affordable prices

lazyboy97o3 days ago

Look at how long TRON was going to take when announced. That’s the timeframe for nearly identical clones and it wasn’t that bad of an original timeline.

RSoxNo13 days ago

It's why I think the path of least resistance is more clones. Stuff where the R&D is already done could get fast tracked for Florida.

the.dreamfinder6 days ago

FWIW, WDI was developing an Alice dark ride for Tokyo Disneyland when they were going to move their IASW next to Tomorrowland for their New Fantasyland redo.

ToTBellHop6 days ago

Interesting. What’s the concern? Outdoor portion? Isn’t Florida where regulations and people go to die?

Sir_Cliff6 days ago

There's something about Toad that feels very British to me in a way the Alice dark ride (which I do like!) doesn't particularly. Thinking about it, that's probably due to the not so subtle fact that it's actually set in a cartoony version of England!

J45466 days ago

alice is such a great dark ride, sucks no other park can enjoy it.

el_super6 days ago

Not sure if it really applies in Florida (it probably does) but safety requirements wouldn't allow Toad and Alice to be built as they exist at Disneyland today.

doctornick6 days ago

Even better. 😀 But honestly I don’t think Toad is a good fit for UK. Sword in the Stone is the best fit among existing IPs but I think Alice or Poppins or Brave would all be fine choices. Alice just happens to have an existing ride to copy (ostensibly for “cheap”) If I had my way I’d put a new fangled Toad (talk about a ride actually made for LPS) in a new “toontown” land somewhere in WDW, most likely at DHS.

ToTBellHop6 days ago

Alice over Toad? Surely today’s Imagineers can think of a way to pull that off? I would hope that in 2023, we are able to build a ride over a ride.

doctornick6 days ago

I prefer Alice in Wonderland for UK, but I’m cool either way.

MrPromey6 days ago

Also, 2nd 2023 HHN house confirmed!