Here is the entire memo written to Disney Employees...
Several years ago, as I looked ahead toward my 50th year at Disney, I set two major goals for myself: first, to play a key role in the development and achievement of a spectacular 50th celebration for Disneyland; and second, to complete more than four years of creative support and leadership with the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland.
I knew that as my 72nd birthday (February) and my 50th Disney anniversary (June) approached, I would look for new challenges, knowing I am not ready for a lounge chair by the pool and tennis court. So when Jay Rasulo asked me to talk about the future, I was "all ears" to a challenging proposal Jay made. It not only seems to be one of those ideas that is overdue, but it was clear to me that I am the perfect casting (perhaps the only candidate) capable of originating and organizing this assignment (I do have an ego, even if I hide it 99% of the time!).
Jay has asked me to become Imagineering Ambassador for the Disney Parks and Resorts segment, communicating the Disney difference. I will be representing the energy, passion and talent of the Disney Imagineers I have helped to lead creatively and symbolically for so many of those 50 years.
Imagineers have proved over and over again that we are the creative leaders in the Parks and Resorts industry. We continue to build on that tradition by what each of us in Imagineering's 140-some disciplines help to create, design, engineer and build. Having John Lasseter and the Pixar group as creative advisors will make Imagineering even stronger. But there are lots of audiences, outside and inside Disney, that need to continue to be, or become, "true believers." As Walt Disney often said, you're only as good as your next project!
I am in the process of defining this program for Jay now, but it will likely include all or most of these elements and audiences: recruiting new talent at colleges and universities, developing traveling exhibitions such as the one now "on the road" organized by The Henry Ford Museum, communicating about the talents - present and legendary past - of Imagineering, speaking at conferences and conventions, etc. Three examples of the latter: I had the biggest program audience and the highest rating at IAAPA last November; teamed with Ray Bradbury in "An Evening with Ray and Marty," we spoke to an oversold and turn-away audience at the Cerritos Library on January 17; and I'll be the featured speaker on campus at UCLA on March 7 (I'll be hitting Kevin Rafferty up for some new one-liners).
For me, this is like another "blank sheet of paper," and filling it with imagination and passion is an exciting challenge.and a familiar one. After all, for nearly half a century, I've been doing that creatively, and as a creative leader of some of the most talented, committed and inspired people in the world: my fellow Imagineers. It's been great fun, and we have filled those blank pages with some of the most imaginative ideas, designs and experiences the world has ever seen.
At some point in the next year, as I develop and begin to implement this Imagineering Ambassador program, I plan to enter into a different kind of arrangement with the company. In the meantime, I'll be moving my office to the Studio to make it clear this is a Parks and Resorts role, and will continue to share the traditions about Imagineering that Jay has asked me to communicate to the public, to other Disney segments, and to future Imagineers: the risk-taking that Walt began and instilled in all of us, the spirit of innovation that drives our collective talents to accomplish breakthrough experiences for our guests, the great story-telling that we know John Lasseter will contribute to, the "no fear" approach to the next blank sheet of paper.
We have the greatest playing field in the world in the 11 Disney parks, the five Disney vacation destinations, the two Disney cruise ships, new concepts such as "Adventures by Disney," and so many present and future opportunities. I know you all will keep on dreaming big dreams, and doing the newest and best in all the world.
I'll still be looking over your shoulders, and cheerleading as your Imagineering Ambassador!