Multiple Top Execs. Booted From Universal, Forced Into Retirement

in Theme Parks, Universal Studios

Universal Orlando Resort

Credit: Universal Orlando

Several senior-ranking executives of Universal Creative — the division responsible for rides, shows, and attractions at Universal parks worldwide — have been forced out of the company, according to reports.

Universal Studios Florida at Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal Orlando

Related: Universal Plans to Build 4 New Roller Coasters Quickly

Universal Creative is Comcast’s version of Walt Disney Imagineering, the artists, engineers, and directors responsible for the attractions, rides, and entertainment shows at the Disney Parks worldwide and the Disney Cruise Line vessels. While Imagineering is often viewed as entrenched and slow to action, Universal Creative has a reputation for being agile and willing to take chances.

They’re also very efficient. For example, Walt Disney World Resort announced the addition of the TRON Lightcycle Run coaster in 2017, and it still isn’t expected to debut until spring 2023, the Magic Kingdom. Contrary to the slow construction projection, Universal broke ground on the VelociCoaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 2019, opening in 2021.

Based on a report published by TheWrap, many executives at Universal Creative are being forced into early retirement by Comcast just a few years before the launch of the new theme park Epic Universe.

wizarding world of harry potter
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Related: Popular Universal Ride in Danger of Permanent Closure

The list of prominent creative visionaries includes executives such as Thierry Coup, the senior vice president and chief creative officer of Universal Creative responsible for overseeing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; Mike Hightower, president of Universal Creative; and Mike Harrington, vice president of engineering and safety at Universal Studios Florida.

Over the years, Coup and his team have set a pace at Universal Studios Orlando, which saw a big attraction released for Guests almost every year. The Walt Disney Imagineering team couldn’t match Coup and his team’s cadence. Over the years, Universal has been able to significantly close the gap with innovations such as the revolutionary Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which has made the Universal Parks actual challengers to Disney Parks.

The executives’ retirement at Universal Creative is shocking because Universal is set to open a new, technologically innovative theme park in 2025.

universal orlando
Credit: Visit Orlando

Epic Universe, which will include lands based on the Nintendo properties and Universal Monsters, will be packed with groundbreaking features and a unique operating blueprint where you pay to access individual lands, meaning corporations or large groups can rent out those same lands without impacting the others. The new theme park could be enough to disrupt Disney’s dominance in Orlando.

Related: Universal Ceases Ticket Sales, Restricts Access to the Park

Over the past few years, Universal Creative has not been the only theme park department to suffer from a brain drain of talent. Walt Disney Imagineering has also been tumultuous, including mass firings and retirements and a forced move to Lake Nona, Florida.

It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how Universal Creative will continue to operate in the future following the mass exodus of talent.

Are you upset that Universal Creative Executive Team Members are leaving the company? Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below.

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