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Josh D’Amaro

Image: Disney

Josh D’Amaro has been at Disney since 1998, and has held a whole lot of positions in both Disney Consumer Products and Disney Parks & Resorts. Between 2013 and 2017 alone, he held roles as the Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Vice President of Resort and Transportation Operations at Walt Disney World, and Chief Commercial Officer of Walt Disney World. 

In 2018, he was named President of Disneyland Park, during which time he gained a reputation for actually spending time in the park (something that you wouldn’t think would make headlines, but alas…) D’Amaro gained a “cult following” among Parks fans for being visible and accessible around the resort. Still, he held the Anaheim position for only a year and a half before relocating back to Orlando as President of Walt Disney World Resort, during which time he was known for actively improving Cast Member support facilities. He held that position for only six months since Bob Chapek’s surprise ascension to CEO left the Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products role open and the rapidly-ascending D’Amaro moved in.

Image: Josh D'Amaro (Instagram)

For better or worse, D’Amaro can be a divisive figure among fans. On one hand, he’s a young, tall, handsome, friendly executive who – again – actually seems to know something about Disney’s theme parks, and even spends time there! You can find shirts with his face on Etsy, and taking selfies with him in the Parks is as popular among Parks fans as many character meet-and-greets. In sometimes sweet, sometimes cringey ways, D’Amaro seems to revel in his "fame" and is perhaps more public-facing than Chapek ever was or will be. (It’s hard to imagine Bob Chapek having an Instagram, for example, whereas D’Amaro’s commands 137,000 followers.) 

Cynics, though, might remind us that D’Amaro’s greatest asset is probably Bob Chapek, who – even elevated to CEO – serves as a convenient scapegoat for issues with the parks. (Frankly, it’s not entirely fair that “the buck stopped” with the Chairman of Parks when it was Chapek in the role, but now that he’s risen, so has the blame, with D’Amaro cast as faultless in Parks issues.) It’ll be interesting to see how D’Amaro owns the role of Chairman going forward, and in the meantime, we ought to remind ourselves that what does or doesn’t happen at Disney Parks ultimately falls to him, for better or worse… 

Bob Weis

Image: Disney

Bob Weis is a well-known name around Walt Disney Imagineering circles. Starting with the company in 1980, Weis contributed to the design of Tokyo Disneyland, then served as a pivotal figure and project manager for the Disney-MGM Studios and particularly, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. He’s also cited with adding early design work to Tokyo DisneySea, though that must be through his contributions to the never-built California version of the park. After all, Weis actually exited Disney in 1994 to begin his own design firm, Design Island, which created CSI: The Experience, Top of the Rock in New York, and helped develop Disney’s PhotoPass software and website.

Weis returned to Disney Imagineering in 2007, just in time to lead the five-year redevelopment of Disney California Adventure. Once the project was complete, he took the lead on the design of Shanghai Disneyland. In 2016, Weis was named President of Walt Disney Imagineering

In 2021, a leadership organization at Walt Disney Imagineering saw Weis’ role expand to President of Creative and New Experiences for WDI, meaning he's the guy to send your armchair Imagineering ideas to. (But really, don't... Disney doesn't accept unsolicited outside submissions.) 

Charita Carter

Image: Disney

An Imagineer with over 20 years of experience, Charita Carter is a Senior Creative Producer and Manager at Walt Disney Imagineering. Best known for her leading role alongside recently-retired Imagineering legend Kevin Rafferty in developing Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, she’s no doubt going to build onto her legacy as the lead designer of the new Princess and the Frog redevelopment of Splash Mountain. Clearly, Charita is a star on the rise whose involvement with projects will become a very good omen. 

Zach Riddley

Image: Disney

Riddley’s entered the cast of recurring characters in the Disney Parks story since the 2019 D23 Expo. As the Creative Portfolio Executive currently focused on Disney’s ambitious, long-term evolution of EPCOT, he’s nothing short of a pivotal figure. Fans have been eagerly tuned to his Instagram, where he shares details of the park’s ongoing transformation that are unlikely to mean much to the general public, but give fans a (PR friendly) look behind-the-scenes. 

Riddley might best be understood as Disney’s public-facing follow-up to the artistic and academic Joe Rohde (who recently left the company for Virgin Galactic). It remains to be seen if Riddley develops the same cult following Rohde did, but at least it’s clear that he cares a whole lot about EPCOT and its reimagining.

 
 
 
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