Significant changes involving the experienced executives leading Universal Creative are happening. According to The Wrap, Thierry Coup, the talented senior vice president and chief creative officer of Universal Creative, Mike Hightower, president of Universal Creative, and Mike Harrington, vice president of engineering and safety at Universal Studios Florida, are leaving their jobs.
According to The Wrap, these executives have quietly decided to take voluntary early retirement packages. Also, The Wrap says they contacted Universal for comment, but Universal declined. They were not specific about which aspect of Universal Parks they asked to comment on this.
Thierry Coup oversaw the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and other projects to improve Universal’s position in the battle against Disney for market share. As Epic Universe’s opening date gets closer, this could lead to concern with experienced people taking early retirement.
Coup, a former Disney Imagineer, displayed a pattern of openness and honesty about projects. Last year, for example, he made headlines when he admitted that he regretted building Fast and the Furious: Supercharged, arguably one of the worst-received modern marquee attractions at any theme park, at Universal Studios Florida.
Since Universal Creative functions as Comcast’s equivalent to Walt Disney Imagineering, this could leave Universal Parks lacking experienced people at the top. Yet, Universal Creative continues to grow and develop staff.
Only time will tell how these changes will influence guest enjoyment and the Epic Universe’s development. However, Jeff Shell, CEO of NBC Universal, has been very vocal about the company’s commitment to its parks worldwide. Also, there are large projects underway at almost every theme park. Universal Studios Hollywood is about to open Super Nintendo World, the first phase of a nearly park-wide rejuvenation, and further expansions are planned globally.
Rumblings behind the scenes indicate that these executives were seen as not worth the money they were being paid. Thus, the early retirement option made moving them out more manageable.
What do you think of this shake-up? Do you think it will matter? Let us know in the comments.
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