In a surprising twist, Ann Morrow Johnson, the brilliant mind and former Global Head of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), has left the legendary Disney team to join forces with Gensler, a premier architecture and design firm. Johnson will step into the role of Design Director and Global Entertainment Leader, collaborating with Lexi Barry to spearhead Gensler’s Entertainment and Experience Design Practice on a global scale.

This noteworthy transition mirrors a similar high-profile move made last year by Bob Weis, the previous head of WDI. Founded in 1965, Gensler is renowned for its expansive portfolio that includes office buildings, urban planning, and projects spanning across entertainment, commercial, and residential sectors. The firm operates in over 100 countries and employs more than 6,000 people, making it a powerhouse in the design world.

Johnson’s Disney tenure was marked by her pioneering work on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. This innovative, immersive two-night experience was designed to transport guests into the Star Wars universe aboard the starship Halcyon, blending live-action role-play with captivating interactive elements and intricate set designs. Despite the initial buzz and positive feedback, the Galactic Starcruiser faced an unexpected closure less than two years after its grand opening. Speculations about the shutdown point to the steep price tag of $5,200 for the two-day adventure, high operational costs, and the complex nature of maintaining such an immersive experience.

Commenting on Johnson’s new role, Bob Weis, now at Gensler, stated, “Ann Morrow Johnson is the creative leader the Gensler Entertainment Practice needs at this moment as we continue to see exciting growth and momentum. Her extensive expertise in immersive experience design and storytelling, paired with strategic development and architectural skills, makes her one of the most sought-after leaders in the industry.”

The closure of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser adds a bittersweet note to this news, marking another chapter in Disney’s audacious ventures in themed entertainment. What are your thoughts on this latest move by another Disney creative giant to Gensler? Share your comments below and let’s discuss!

For more engaging updates and stories, follow us on social media and join the conversation. Your opinions matter to us, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts!