Walt Disney World news

Animatronic staff facing layoffs

Leah Zanolla | Posted: Jun 14, 2008 | Updated: Oct 19, 2014 - 9:25:27 AM
An internal memo to Disney's Imagineering staff has surfaced and indicates that the company will be using outside vendors to build future animatronic figures.

The June 12 memo was authored by Bruce Vaughn (Chief Creative Executive), Craig Russell (Chief Development and Delivery Executive), and Kevin Eld (Vice President of Disney Creative Production.

Marilyn Waters, Imagineering spokesperson, confirmed that outsourcing is being sought as a means to alleviate the demands placed on the in-house staff. What has not been addressed are concerns that this will lead to cutbacks in the Imagineering staff.

Walt Disney first introducted animatronics 45 years ago when the Enchanted Tiki Room opened. Since that time the figures have evolved with some that can freely roam and others that can interact with guests. Examples of this next generation of figures are Lucky the Dinosaur and Toy Story Mania's Mr. Potato Head.

Following the popularity of Disney animatronics, a billion dollar industry developed. When 'it's a small world' was constructed in Hong Kong, Disney Imagineers provided the oversight for a Chinese company which built most of the figures.

Waters stated 'Our industry has generated quite a few heavily-skilled and proficient vendors who can supplement our teams with simple figures with significant oversight by our production team. This will allow us to focus on creating more sophisticated and advanced figures.'

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