Mass WDI Layoffs | Inside Universal Forums
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Mass WDI Layoffs

Nick

Staff member
Moderator
Sep 22, 2011
20,454
Orlando
So that means our expectations of the future of Disney Parks should be even LESS than what they currently were. Cool.
I don't think so. Joe is on the Avatar project, which has topped $1B for a singular project.

I think what Disney is aiming for here is to get out those who have kept this culture of entitlement within WDI going. Once they do that, they can restart and create a new culture and not spend $5000 on a sign that they could've spent $500 on. Keeping the budgets in line has never been a strength of WDI so if this helps, i'm all for it.

Also, there's really no need for "Celebrity Imagineers". That just makes them feel more entitled. There's plenty of very talented young Imagineers that they can use for much cheaper.
 

quinnmac000

Veteran Member
May 14, 2014
5,448
Seoul, Korea
I don't think so. Joe is on the Avatar project, which has topped $1B for a singular project.

I think what Disney is aiming for here is to get out those who have kept this culture of entitlement within WDI going. Once they do that, they can restart and create a new culture and not spend $5000 on a sign that they could've spent $500 on. Keeping the budgets in line has never been a strength of WDI so if this helps, i'm all for it.

Also, there's really no need for "Celebrity Imagineers". That just makes them feel more entitled. There's plenty of very talented young Imagineers that they can use for much cheaper.
Disagree. There won't be young imagineers because they would rather hire outside contractors for cheap. The problems to arise is with contractors you lack keep points of management and control. The thing is you can hire them tell them it needs to be done in such and such time and don't owe them any benefits.

Tom Morris got let go...his twitter bio is hilarous.

https://twitter.com/TomKMorris
 

Nick

Staff member
Moderator
Sep 22, 2011
20,454
Orlando
Disagree. There won't be young imagineers because they would rather hire outside contractors for cheap. The problems to arise is with contractors you lack keep points of management and control. The thing is you can hire them tell them it needs to be done in such and such time and don't owe them any benefits.

Tom Morris got let go...his twitter bio is hilarous.

https://twitter.com/TomKMorris
That wasn't my point. Young imagineers/outside contractors... same thing to me in what I mean. It's cheaper and it's more the Uni way of doing things in how they get things done for so cheap.

I mean honestly, did they really need someone of Rohde's caliber heading up a retheme of Tower of Terror? Absolutely not. It can be done just as good and much cheaper (especially if all you're doing is ruining an attraction).
 

quinnmac000

Veteran Member
May 14, 2014
5,448
Seoul, Korea
That wasn't my point. Young imagineers/outside contractors... same thing to me in what I mean. It's cheaper and it more the Uni way of doing things in how they get things done for so cheap.

I mean honestly, did they really need someone of Rohde's caliber heading up a retheme of Tower of Terror? Absolutely not. It can be done just as good and much cheaper.
Yes they do due to politics...especially with James Gunn, Kevin Feige, Joe Quesada involved. They needed senior leadership to wrangle James Cameron instead of young new fresh out of college imagineer with bushy tailed who comes up with a crazy great but expensive ideas who can't handle saying no to someone so high up.
 

AlexanderMBush

Legendary Member
Nov 23, 2013
17,142
Arizona
Disagree. There won't be young imagineers because they would rather hire outside contractors for cheap. The problems to arise is with contractors you lack keep points of management and control. The thing is you can hire them tell them it needs to be done in such and such time and don't owe them any benefits.

Tom Morris got let go...his twitter bio is hilarous.

https://twitter.com/TomKMorris
Mind if I ask, but what projects did Morris work on?
 
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Nick

Staff member
Moderator
Sep 22, 2011
20,454
Orlando
Yes they do due to politics...especially with James Gunn, Kevin Feige, Joe Quesada involved. They needed senior leadership to wrangle James Cameron instead of young new fresh out of college imagineer with bushy tailed who comes up with a crazy great but expensive ideas who can't handle saying no to someone so high up.
It's still not the point. Universal works with a great number of 3rd parties and has built a great relationship with them all while building at a reasonable price. Yes you need a respectable person to do the talking, but prices don't need to be what they've been for most of these projects Disney has been putting forward.

I still enjoy Disney a ton (mostly because as a local, an AP is a steal for me with how often I go), but it's no secret that they have a huge issue at WDI.
 

SkiBum

Veteran Member
Dec 14, 2012
1,333
Cincinnati, OH
He's effectively fired.
Not trying to belabor this. Is it performance based or cost-cutting based?

I won't pretend to understand Imagineering but it seems that the cost overruns, delays, and just the bang for the buck demonstrates that maybe things are broken. If they are removing people to become more flexible and less costly, I can see that. If they are cutting to save money, they should be careful to not experience a forced "brain drain". I just am floored by the cost that they spend to create two rides. $1.0B for an area with two rides is crazy money.
 
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Teebin

Legendary Member
Oct 12, 2009
20,326
North of the Wall
Wow, you people do know a bunch of the top names in the biz. Personally, I am a fan of the lesser knowns that I have had the pleasure of knowing very well who make this stuff happen. It's been a heaven of experience and information I would have otherwise never known. I have been playing Christmas day almost every day for 7 years. I am really lucky.
 
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Joe

aka TestTrack321
Staff member
Moderator
Feb 15, 2012
12,164
Pittsburgh, PA
Not trying to belabor this. Is it performance based or cost-cutting based?

I won't pretend to understand Imagineering but it seems that the cost overruns, delays, and just the bang for the buck demonstrates that maybe things are broken. If they are removing people to become more flexible and less costly, I can see that. If they are cutting to save money, they should be careful to not experience a forced "brain drain". I just am floored by the cost that they spend to create two rides. $1.0B for an area with two rides is crazy money.
So here's what I've heard.

Imagineering is going through massive layoffs to focus the division on a more regional theme park level outsourcing for rides. This is beyond UC's PM/bare bones creative design model. Think "we want a Marvel land, lets contract everything out, PM makes sure this happens". Yes, prior times when a large project ends mass layoffs usually occur, but this time it's also refocusing the division. This is not the end, this is the beginning. I'm not confident this will save Disney money in the long run but it's still too early to tell.

My main comments are that Disney fans tend to point to WDI and Disney Parks' in house development of attractions as an objective reason why Disney parks are better and done "right". This effectively neuters their arguments so now they're making up excuses on why Joe isn't gone, this is normal, etc etc. Just like GotG at ToT, they will excuse and excuse to defend like it's a sports team.

Anyway, as I said, this is the beginning so there's lots still changing and happening. I will report back more I hear.
 

Ryan

Staff member
Moderator
May 23, 2013
4,434
I'm still trying to fully wrap my head around the idea. If what I heard is correct, the satellite WDI teams will come up with a general concept, outsource the rest and essentially give notes and such when necessary as they communicate with the team. Meanwhile, if Disney ever wants to make another park, it will create a separate WDI department specifically for that and do the same thing.

If that's true, and in no way does this make it a bad idea, but the term "Imagineer" will be a whole lot more hallow. It's smart, but will easily be a bitter pill for most Disney fans to swallow.
 
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SkiBum

Veteran Member
Dec 14, 2012
1,333
Cincinnati, OH
So here's what I've heard.

Imagineering is going through massive layoffs to focus the division on a more regional theme park level outsourcing for rides. This is beyond UC's PM/bare bones creative design model. Think "we want a Marvel land, lets contract everything out, PM makes sure this happens". Yes, prior times when a large project ends mass layoffs usually occur, but this time it's also refocusing the division. This is not the end, this is the beginning. I'm not confident this will save Disney money in the long run but it's still too early to tell.

My main comments are that Disney fans tend to point to WDI and Disney Parks' in house development of attractions as an objective reason why Disney parks are better and done "right". This effectively neuters their arguments so now they're making up excuses on why Joe isn't gone, this is normal, etc etc. Just like GotG at ToT, they will excuse and excuse to defend like it's a sports team.

Anyway, as I said, this is the beginning so there's lots still changing and happening. I will report back more I hear.
Thank you for the explanation. If it can increase the "speed to market" of the rides and keep quality as well, it would be a win-win. As you stated, time will tell.
 

darkridelover

Premium Member
May 5, 2012
1,650
I don't get this whole "Disney is better because stuff is built in house" argument. Disney has been outsourcing and contracting out most of the work for years. Most animatronics and mechanical figures are built by outside contractors. Vekoma makes their roller coasters and train chassis. Vehicles for most attractions made in the last decade have been contracted out also. What's left is building design, story, and set dressing. Over 90% of the people working on Avatar are outside contract workers. The ride system for Flight of Passage is an off the shelf design built and installed by a third party vendor and the rock work structure built by another company. Anyone who would make that argument just doesn't have a clue about how things are built at Disney.
 

SkiBum

Veteran Member
Dec 14, 2012
1,333
Cincinnati, OH
I don't get this whole "Disney is better because stuff is built in house" argument. Disney has been outsourcing and contracting out most of the work for years. Most animatronics and mechanical figures are built by outside contractors. Vekoma makes their roller coasters and train chassis. Vehicles for most attractions made in the last decade have been contracted out also. What's left is building design, story, and set dressing. Over 90% of the people working on Avatar are outside contract workers. The ride system for Flight of Passage is an off the shelf design built and installed by a third party vendor and the rock work structure built by another company. Anyone who would make that argument just doesn't have a clue about how things are built at Disney.
I'm not sure that anyone would make the argument outside of those who think Disney does no wrong. Biggest complaints are cost overruns, cut ride effects/length due to cost overruns, and length of time to produce a ride. Took them two years plus to build a coaster with a short dark ride scene and concrete exterior. They cut SDMT's course by close to 50% of what it was and fixated on adding an element (swinging cars) that you barely notice. Their choices leave one scratching his/her head at times. Announcing SWL but no completion date. Stating that there will be two rides when they should build at least three or more. The area will be a people magnet and the rides are just going to have three hour wait times.
 
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quinnmac000

Veteran Member
May 14, 2014
5,448
Seoul, Korea
I'm not sure that anyone would make the argument outside of those who think Disney does no wrong. Biggest complaints are cost overruns, cut ride effects/length due to cost overruns, and length of time to produce a ride.
That's because contractors know they can overcharge Dis and spread out their projects and DIS won't do anything about it.
 
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SkiBum

Veteran Member
Dec 14, 2012
1,333
Cincinnati, OH
That's because contractors know they can overcharge Dis and spread out their projects and DIS won't do anything about it.
Which points out to poor project management. However, I've never had to oversee a $500M expansion and there is probably a lot that goes into it that I simply don't understand.
 

s8film40

Veteran Member
Apr 18, 2013
3,458
I don't get this whole "Disney is better because stuff is built in house" argument. Disney has been outsourcing and contracting out most of the work for years. Most animatronics and mechanical figures are built by outside contractors. Vekoma makes their roller coasters and train chassis. Vehicles for most attractions made in the last decade have been contracted out also. What's left is building design, story, and set dressing. Over 90% of the people working on Avatar are outside contract workers. The ride system for Flight of Passage is an off the shelf design built and installed by a third party vendor and the rock work structure built by another company. Anyone who would make that argument just doesn't have a clue about how things are built at Disney.
This allows Disney to build attractions without limiting themselves to what others can provide for them. In other words they've been paying for something they're not using and now they're correcting that mistake.