Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2021

Buzz Price Thea Award - Recognizing a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements

Bob Weis

An Extraordinary Leader

While the creative talents of Bob Weis are widely known, he also has the leadership skills to bring team members together to focus and collaborate on a project. He has a keen ability to align a very large effort and provide clear direction towards success among the more than 100 diverse disciplines required to create a multi-dimensional end product.

The projects Weis has spearheaded are recognized by the industry, his peers and the tens of millions of visitors as among the best, and a testament to his exceptional ability to deliver high quality and complex innovative work. The admiration he has earned from our community over the decades is rooted in his authentic leadership style, a world class visionary who is sincerely modest, selfless and kind. At the heart of his style is the empowerment of the individual and the team, treating all with respect and trust.

A Lifetime of Achievements –Theme Parks

As president of Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob Weis leads talented Imagineers around the world to advance the quality of immersive experiences across theme park resorts and cruise ships, with a focus on quality, storytelling, and collaboration with diverse talents to achieve extraordinary results in experiences and live entertainment. His portfolio of work, particularly on major comprehensive themed projects is unparalleled.

His early achievements at Disney include being part of Disney’s first international theme park development – Tokyo Disneyland. He later worked with the Oriental Land Company, the park’s owner, to deliver on their expectation of a unique Disney theme park experience, Tokyo DisneySea. At Walt Disney World Resort, Weis worked on the creation of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (then called Disney-MGM Studios) and continues to oversee the transformation of that park with recent inclusions of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. His overall creative leadership of a major transformation of Disney California Adventure included the creation of several new attractions, extending the guest stay into the evening with the opening of World of Color nighttime spectacular and the introduction of a major new, highly immersive land called Cars Land, based on the successful Pixar film franchise. These changes were story driven and led to boosts in attendance as well as guest satisfaction. Currently Weis oversees large teams transforming EPCOT as well as Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris.

A Career with Global Impact

Our industry is a key facilitator in today’s world of global outreach and multi-cultural connections and experiences. Bob Weis has shown that he can integrate the experiences and perspectives of many viewpoints into a winning project, inclusive of all participants, and enjoyed by all who visit over several decades. The Shanghai Disney Resort showcases his thoughtful leadership. Beginning with an extensive research effort and outreach into the local market, Weis led the effort to develop a deep understanding of the Chinese audience and culture. Moving into this new market, the first for Disney in mainland China, he identified that local creative voices were key to the project’s success and resonance with local guests, and he drove Imagineering to broaden its reach and build teams that included local artistic talent, advisors and storytellers.

The result of his strategic and focused direction is a world-class park that Disney’s CEO at that time, Bob Iger, described as, “Authentically Disney and Distinctly Chinese.” The experiences throughout resonate with local audiences and set a new standard for storytelling that bridges cultures. The success of Shanghai Disney Resort is a glowing example on the world stage of Weis's mastery of international projects. His leadership and influence continue with expansion projects at each of Disney’s six resort destinations around the world.

A Passion for Community and Culture

Separately from Disney, with his firm Bob Weis Design Island, he has applied his talent and vision to develop groundbreaking exhibitions and visitor centers with several of these projects receiving Thea Awards including Adventures in Movie Making, and CSI: The Experience, along with Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and many others.

Despite the demands on his time, Bob Weis will always find a way to give back to the community and help institutions solve creative challenges. In addition to his Disney work, he has developed projects for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and The Museum of Science and History in Fort Worth. He was involved in the master plan for National Harbor, near Washington, DC. He has advised the late Paul Allen on museum projects and has been an advisor to the Smithsonian, including serving on the Board of Trustees of the National Museum of the American Indian. He is also a member of the advisory committee of the Walt Disney Family Museum. Weis founded the Ryman Foundation Hani El-Masri Student Artist Award, which celebrates the life of the late Disney Imagineer and artist Hani El-Masri by recognizing at least one outstanding Ryman Arts student each year who represents the diverse talents in our community, and who is, like Mr. El-Masri was, an immigrant to the United States. Weis supports Cal Poly Pomona, School of Environmental Design, and was one of the founders of the Bobby Brooks Studio, which for 10 years, has built for students a culture of collaboration and narrative design methodologies in memory of Bobby Brooks, beloved Cal Poly Pomona Architecture Alumnus and Imagineer.

In addition to an already significant breadth of creative and philanthropic work, Bob Weis is an accomplished filmmaker and has created feature films and documentary projects. Recently he championed the making of the multi-part docuseries, “The Imagineering Story,” which premiered on Disney + last year, a triumph in storytelling that has been a key driver to subscriptions in this newly launched streaming service.

Find out more about TEA member Walt Disney Imagineering

Award Credits