Universal Orlando lets go of 1,123 salary employees, including Universal Creative

Posted Monday, November 23, 2020 10:12 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Universal Orlando is laying off 1,123 salaried employees at its creative division, theme parks and resorts, the company has disclosed in a federally required notice of mass layoffs. Universal disclosed in the notice that 373 employees losing their jobs worked at the Universal Creative office. The majority of the layoffs — 678 people — are occurring at offices located near the theme parks. None of these positions involved hourly workers, the company said.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, November 23, 2020 10:15 AM
Jeff's avatar

This is like the equivalent of gutting Disney's Imagineering. If there's any question about where the state of Epic Universe is, I think this says it's going to be dead for a long time. If that's actually the case, it means the company is strategically in a very different place than it was in the late aughts. The first wave of Harry Potter was conceived in the midst of a recession, and that's why they emerged so strongly coming out of it.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Monday, November 23, 2020 10:35 AM

I was under the impression the first Harry Potter opening in 2010 was sort of a "do or die" for Universal Orlando. Still, I don't see Epic Universe happening anytime soon.

I also have heard from former co workers that Disney Imagineering took a hit like never before. It just sucks all around.

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Monday, November 23, 2020 12:03 PM

In an interview with a finance newspaper in Germany, Roland Mack (who heads Europa Park and Mack Rides) revealed in September that Universal Studios had cancelled a contract for the "largest roller coaster" worth over 20 million euros to his company. He is not sure when the contract will return, but he managed to recover 60% of the lost amount by selling two large orders to China. Add the massive layoffs at Universal Creative and Epic Universe is dead for the next 5-10 years.


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Monday, November 23, 2020 1:38 PM
99er's avatar

BrettV said:

I also have heard from former co workers that Disney Imagineering took a hit like never before. It just sucks all around.

I think it was somewhere between 400 and 600 Imagineers between Orlando and Glendale. My close friend was a designer on Guardians and Ratatouille and he got laid off with no indication of returning. The crazy thing is that this was done to so many people who were in the middle of 5+ year projects. They won't even get to see them be finished.


-Chris
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Monday, November 23, 2020 2:33 PM

And now Joe is saying goodbye too.

Granted you've seen less and less of him unless it a large project interview but there was a time you couldn't swing a dead cat around a Disney show or interview and not see Joe.

https://www.wdwinfo.com/news-stories/disney-imagineer-joe-rohde-ann...etirement/


June 11th, 2001 - Gemini 100
VertiGo Rides - 82

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Monday, November 23, 2020 3:01 PM
Jeff's avatar

When you said "dead cat" all I could think of was his ear. I would retire at his age, too. He can walk away with the pride of having a really legendary career. He's even made appearances in the Animal Kingdom show running now on Disney+. Hopefully his retirement saves one younger person in Imagineering just starting out.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Monday, November 23, 2020 3:14 PM
99er's avatar

I believe his ear is continuing on with Imagineering. Senior VP level from what I heard.


-Chris
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Monday, November 23, 2020 3:17 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I hate you guys. I wanted to make ear jokes, but I thought I was just being a dick.

Now it's too late.


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Monday, November 23, 2020 5:49 PM

I have some close friends that saw him during lunch at Tiffins one day last year. They were brave enough to approach him and said he couldn’t have been any friendlier. Talked to them for about 15 minutes, posed for photos, and autographed an original drawing for their son. People can and do pay good money for that kind of exclusivity.


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Monday, November 23, 2020 5:53 PM

I met him twice. The one I really remember was right as Everest was opening. I was touring the job site at the invite of some friends from Vekoma and just ran into him while staring at the then working Yeti.

Nicest guy in the world. Asked about my back round, talked about rides.

Still upset I didn't give him my card.


June 11th, 2001 - Gemini 100
VertiGo Rides - 82

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Monday, November 23, 2020 10:19 PM

I "handshake met" him in the summer of 2014 at the "Harambe Nights" after hours event they did that summer at Animal Kingdom. It was a fun evening event with wonderful food, street entertainment, and a reading of The Lion King that was similar to the Epcot Candlelight Processional.

He was there with his family but was friendly and welcoming with each guest that approached him. He even joined a few of the dance circles with the guests and entertainers. Those that knew who he was were absolutely in awe that he was out and about mingling with everyone. Those that didn't just thought he was a typical tourist with one hell of an earring.

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Monday, November 23, 2020 10:55 PM
99er's avatar

And none of you got a picture with his ear? I hear that if you got its autograph they are going on eBay for upwards of $12.

Never met the guy. I think we crossed paths on some projects..maybe? I can't remember. I did get to chat with Marty Sklar a few times and that was pretty amazing. He is the only Imagineering royalty I've got on my punch list.


-Chris
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Monday, November 23, 2020 11:16 PM
sirloindude's avatar

I’m sorry he’s the only one, but I’m sure the others are glad you didn’t punch them too.


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Monday, November 23, 2020 11:44 PM
99er's avatar

A gift basket is typically given after the punch so they are actually missing out.


-Chris
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