In a surprising move, an ex-Cast Member is back with Walt Disney Imagineering.
Today, it was announced that Imagineer Bruce Vaughn would return to the company as Chief Creative Officer of Disney Imagineering, effective March 20. He will co-lead the team alongside WDI President Barbara Bouza.
Vaughn left the company in 2016 to become CEO and CCO of Dreamscape, an immersive experience company based in virtual reality. He then went on to join Airbnb in 2021 as Vice President of Experiential Creative Product, where he led a team that designed immersive experiences, offerings, and spaces for the company.
He was a previous CCO for WDI, holding the position from 2007 until his departure. In total, he has been an Imagineer for 22 years, having started as a senior technical specialist in 1993. He spent time working as a show writer and was an associate producer for the Spaceship Earth renovation project at EPCOT, which has since been put on hiatus. It’s rumored that Vaughn’s departure from the company also coincided with then-CEO Bob Chapek’s desire not to have a creative head the department.
“I’ve remained an Imagineer at heart,” Vaughn said, “so I’m thrilled to join Barbara and reunite with this phenomenal global team of creators and innovators during this pivotal time.”
Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, sent out an email to Imagineers to announce the leadership change and praise Vaughn’s work.
“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 also announced that Vaughn and Bouza would collaborate on “significant developments underway and more on the horizon” and the “most effective way to structure Imagineering.” The division has had a co-leadership model since 2009, but Bouza had been leading alone since December 2021, after Bob Weiss retired.