Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald takes over the creative direction of Epcot

Apr 25, 2014 in "The Walt Disney Company"

In further organizational changes at both park leadership and at Walt Disney Imagineering, veteran Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald is taking lead on the creative direction of Epcot.

Disney is poised to begin a major re-Imagineering of Epcot, looking to restore the original intent of the park in both Future World and World Showcase. Tom's extensive experience with WDI should position him well to take on such a project.

Fitzgerald will retain leading WDI at Disneyland Paris, where he is currently wrapping up the Ratatouille attraction in Walt Disney Studios Pars.

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Article Posted: Apr 25, 2014 / 3:57pm EDT
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Captain NeoMay 07, 2014

They are too busy balking at the price tag

RSoxNo1May 07, 2014

I have heard similar things, including that Fitzgerald is unhappy with the move, viewing it as a demotion.

OmnispaceMay 06, 2014

For one of the few times in recent Disney theme park memory, Cars Land did the right thing -- spend what it takes to create something of quality and most important has that "wow" factor. As a result it has pretty much turned around what was considered to be one of the worst parks in the Disney portfolio. It was the old-school Disney approach to putting the guest before profit margins and it turned out to be a win-win situation for everyone. Since that would put Lasseter in the right, one would think that would gain him the clout to steer the company in the right direction creatively. I'm hoping that time will prove that the Cars Land scenario has influenced the top management that such a strategy is worthwhile.

disneylandfan95May 06, 2014

Lasseter put all his eggs in the basket with Cars Land. As of now, he has little-to-no political pull on Parks matters. He's still the top dog for animation, but has really lost all say in terms of leading WDI.

Captain NeoMay 06, 2014

Yea I've been wondering this too because that is how they sold Lasseter's arrival at Disney to the public. I'm going to assume that Lasseter has sort of fallen by the way side after the Marvel and Lucasfilm buyouts and at the same time Pixar movies began loosing their box-office luster. His official title at WDI was "Principal Creative Advisor" so it's vague enough that they can keep him away plus he's so busy with other branches of the company (Primarily Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios). From what I understand he had some pretty nasty fights with WDI, The accountants, and the executives at Disney during Cars Land's construction because they as usual wanted to cut costs or do the usual dumb stuff and he wasn't going to tolerate it. Naturally, we all benefited from him holding his ground.

TinkerBell9988May 06, 2014

Oh yes I forgot to mention that the bears do look great, it was awesome that they each got a little TLC (poor Trixie was suffering with a roving eyeball since 2007 or so). All the AA's look great, the show sounds great, I just wish it was the entire show. Test Track - love it. Absolutely love it. I agree on Space Mountain. And agreed on the last point, hence why everyone is in an uproar about the Poly.

OmnispaceMay 06, 2014

To connect the two Star Wars sections they could make the Star Tours vehicles actually go someplace!! :) I think my favorite blue sky rumor I heard on a similar matter was in the late 90's when the idea was for Disney to purchase Knott's, turn it into Disney's America, and then connect it to Disneyland with a monorail along I-5. How cool would that be?? The rumor about Tom being placed on another project for political reasons sounds very consistent with the way corporations work. Whatever the story is, I wonder how much truth there is to that. I can definitely see Disney placing him at Epcot and then spinning the story that they are doing it to enhance the guest experience. Another name I haven't heard mentioned in a while is John Lasseter. Is he completely out of the theme park attraction picture unless it involves a Pixar attraction? In addition to his other duties, I thought his role was to be somewhat of watchdog when it came to the creative aspects of Disney's parks. Has all that changed now that Steve is no longer with us?

NoChesterHesterMay 06, 2014

Ok. I can see that. I still believe the refurb itself was quality. The show looks and sounds great. Test Track was also overwhelmingly positive. The big mess up that sticks out in my mind is Space Mountain. Not that the refurb looks bad, but it was a huge missed opportunity to do oh so much more. Just pointing out that many of the standard fan talking points of poor quality and poorly done refurbs is just not true. Management may be cutting refurb budgets, but I stand by my belief that WDI budgets are crazy bloated anyway. The reason we don't see more done is that they cost 5x what it should.

BoarderPhreakMay 05, 2014

This, this and... THIS! Yes, the original EPCOT Center was definitely a stand-out - with an incredible vibe to it.

TinkerBell9988May 05, 2014

I agree with all of your points above except The Country Bear Jamboree refurb. The show is too short and all mixed up. I'm a fan of the original, and it is hard for me to watch the new version.

Captain NeoMay 05, 2014

Oh hey ferret didn't know you hang around here too The only way they can thematically do it is if they re-route or add a new route to the Monorail that connects Tomorrowland with Star Wars Land. Star Wars Land could have its own entrance too that would require the purchase of a Disneyland ticket. They are doing something similar at Universal Orlando with Harry Potter. But that would probably require City of Anaheim approval too.

FerretAfrosMay 05, 2014

I wouldn't put too much credibility into his account at the moment. In the past couple of weeks, he's given wildly different versions of plans that are basically a "done deal" that just don't make any sense and would require significant work with the City of Anaheim to construct the Star Wars area in current parking lots that aren't contiguous to DCA. There's no way that they would do that construction before using all of the available space within the park, and there's really no way to thematically tie Star Wars to California since there's no space for it in the Backlot There may be some truth to Tom's meddling being part of the reason for his move (I have no knowledge either way), but keep the reliability of the source in mind

Captain NeoMay 05, 2014

An insider on Laughingplace claims the only reason Fitzgerald ended up at Epcot is because he was becoming problematic on the Star Wars Land project @ DL. Apparently there was some talk of building Star Wars Land on a new unused parcel of land and then closing Star Tours in tomorrow land and moving the AA's but since Star Tours 2 was Fitzgeralds project (that he is so proud of since it stamped out the Baxter original) he started a big fuss so the team complained to upper management and he was removed. Knowing the way Fitzgerald behaves I think it might actually be true.

doctornickMay 05, 2014

It always seems like Japan is the most mentioned country to get an attraction on the west side of WS. I think Martin has mentioned that they have plans for a ride ready to go for Japan, if they had a sponsor willing to bankroll it (or at least some of the costs).