Bruce Vaughn Returns to Disney as Chief Creative Officer for Walt Disney Imagineering

Bruce Vaughn, who formerly co-led Walt Disney Imagineering and departed in 2016, is returning to Disney. His previous run with Disney lasted about two decades, with the nine last years having Vaughn co-lead Imagineering as chief creative executive. In 2016, Vaughn left Disney to become the CEO and CCO of Dreamscape Immersive, which makes location-based virtual reality experiences. In 2021 he joined AirBnB as vice president of experiential creative product.

Vaughn will be returning to Disney on March 20, 2023. Both he and Barbara Bouza, President of Walt Disney Imagineering will report to Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro.

“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 said.  

“With so many exciting projects under way and tremendous opportunities ahead of us, I look forward to partnering with Bruce to fuel creativity and deliver next-level experiences,” Bouza said. 

Josh D’Amaro sent a memo to Imagineering about the return of Vaughn. This including recognizing Iger’s focus on creativity. The two 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,” they will also be working on a plan for the “most effective way to structure Imagineering.”

“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,” D’Amaro wrote in the memo. 

The return to co-leadership at Walt Disney Imagineering is a return to its former structure prior to Bob Weiss moving to the role of Global Imagineering Ambassador and then retiring. Bouza has been leading Imagineering by herself since Weiss moved on in December of 2021.

Memo From Josh D’Amaro Welcoming Bruce Vaughn Back to Walt Disney Imagineering

WDI Organizational Announcement: Welcome Back Bruce Vaughn

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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