Marty Sklar: We owe a great debt to Michael Eisner
Marty Sklar, Walt Disney Imagineering Chief Creative Executive, recently wrote a letter to the Orange County Register in Southern California in which he shared his thoughts about the leadership of Michael Eisner, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. The letter appears in the newspaper's March 28 edition. Here's a copy of Marty's letter.
With nearly 50 years at The Walt Disney Company under my belt, I had the privilege of being part of Disneyland's historic opening day in 1955 and fondly remember working alongside Walt Disney. And during the three decades I've been the creative head of Walt Disney Imagineering, the group responsible for the creation of all Disney resorts, theme parks, attractions, cruise ships and more, I've had the great pleasure of seeing a lot of amazingly spectacular and magical things.
Of course, lately, with conflicts over who will manage Disney in the future, I'm reminded of 1984, a difficult year for Disney, filled with internal concern as corporate raiders tried to tear Disney apart, and a real turning point for the company.
In the fall of that year, I met Michael Eisner. On a Sunday morning, Michael, his son Breck and Frank Wells spent about six hours with me and our team at Walt Disney Imagineering. We gave them a window into Disney's top secret creative think tank, and introduced them to some of the best and brightest innovative minds in the country, all of whom devote their energy to innovation and developing advanced proprietary technologies that are used for the purpose of creating magical experiences for our guests around the world.
We didn't know what to expect from the new boss that Sunday morning, but the day ended up being fun for all of us. Michael was excited by our creativity and had tremendous enthusiasm for what we did at Imagineering. On that first visit to Imagineering, Michael immediately gave green lights to two of our ideas: Splash Mountain, which opened in 1989 at Disneyland in Anaheim and remains one of our most popular theme park attractions worldwide, and a concept for a whole new park devoted to show biz and Hollywood's heyday - the Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World, which also opened in 1989.
Michael has always has been a builder and an innovator - a great creative force and the ideal creative partner. Often a good idea becomes great with a suggestion from Michael.
Michael is also a tremendous proponent of continuing to push the envelope of technological innovation in everything we do. Today, our latest technological marvel is also our newest E-ticket attraction, the one-of-a-kind Mission: SPACE at Epcot, which is a wonderful example of how Imagineering takes big creative risks to give people experiences they can't and won't get anywhere else.
Ideas and the talent behind the ideas need to be nurtured in order to grow and reach full potential, and no matter how strange one of our ideas seemed on paper, Michael was able to recognize its universal appeal. He also has a clear understanding of when to stretch the financial box and when to make sure we all understand there is one. He also knows the value Walt Disney saw in having a core of internal talents to master-plan, design and create great new Disney theme park experiences, and he also understands and embraces the importance of protecting and continuing the great legacy started more than 80 years ago by my former boss.
I appreciate Michael for igniting our imaginations, supporting our creative ideas and believing in this fantastic world of Disney.
He makes it tough for an old creative hand like me to consider retirement. When I think of the amazing record of the past 20 years, I see the magic and imagination all around us at Disney.
My colleagues at Imagineering are dreamers and doers. We owe a great debt to Michael Eisner for allowing us to let the magic out of the bottle.