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  1. #31

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by techskip View Post
    Here is my take on it. Tony is a relic of the past, like him or hate him he is one of the few remaining who knew the old WED. He has been through a lot... but after the sinking of TL98 he seems to have lost more battles then he's won. He's alays been heavy handed on backstory, but I prefer his style to the marketing tactics of today. AT least he tossed some originality in there and didn't just retell the story.

    Which brings me to this point... even now... at what many would consider the tail end of his career... he has to fight for everything. He isn't just given projects and granted budgets based on his name. He has to prove his ideas and in the current climate being original isn't considered a benefit. As he watches John upstage him, winning Pixar project after project and twisting entire lands out of his grasp, maybe now he is empathetic to how Marc Davis felt about WRE. Maybe now he understands why it is such an instinctive feeling to want to leave something legendary behind, a final bang on the way out.

    For those who thought Tony's decision to bring in Lucas was bad... John's ascension in the ranks has been far worse. With the acquisition of John and Pixar came the shoehorned placement of John's "babies" in every land. Tony wants the Tomorrowland redo... as it stands now Tom appears to be giving part, or even all of it, to John. Ironic how history sometimes repeats itself.
    Excellent post, techskip. I believe we're thinking on the same wavelength.

    Since this thread was started with one of my posts from another thread, I'll give you some additional thoughts as to why I feel Tony might be heading for "voluntary retirement" in the near future.

    As techskip stated, Tony has had to fight for everything in the past several years, including his 2007 return to his previous position as WDI creative executive for DL. But what exactly does that even mean, now that much of that position's responsibility has been usurped by Tom Fitzgerald? Tom was put in charge of the entire Anaheim resort earlier this year, with Tony and Bob Weis reporting directly to him. That's a huge slap in the face for Baxter, to now have that additional layer of management between him and Bruce Vaughn, when that didn't exist three years ago. Given Tony's history with WDI and his excellent track record of delivering high quality attractions and parks... why does he need to be "supervised" by Tom Fitzgerald in the first place? That makes no sense to me whatsoever, unless there's an ulterior motive behind it.

    Bob Weis will soon be off working exclusively on his baby (the new Shanghai park), and Tom will be taking over his role as creative exec for DCA. Hmm... doesn't that seem rather convenient? Bob was handed Shanghai before Fitzgerald was put in charge of the entire Anaheim resort; it was a given that Weis would be leaving DCA to work on Shanghai in the near future. Once that happens, Tom will be in charge of DCA, in addition to the entire Anaheim resort. But Tony will still be reporting to Tom? I'm sorry, but this simply does not pass the sniff test.

    Bringing Tom to the resort before Bob leaves to work on Shanghai makes sense. But putting him over both Bob and Tony does not, unless there's a bigger role in the future for Tom to fill. Since all of the design work for DCA's expansion is pretty much completed, Tom will simply be overseeing the construction, once he takes over for Bob. And once the expansion is finished in 2012, there won't be much left for him to do for DCA, since it will be years before Disney decides to sink any more capital into the park. Phase I will first need to prove itself successful before Phase II is seriously considered by Burbank.

    So... Tom won't have much to do with DCA, so he'll spend the bulk of his time overseeing the hotels and supervising Tony. Really? An Executive Vice President for WDI will be spending his career giving creative direction to three hotels and supervising a fully capable Senior Vice President who doesn't need his supervision?

    Given the hyperfocus Disney has placed on austerity in these recent years, why would they allow waste at this level to exist? Wouldn't it be cheaper to have Tom Fitzgerald manage all of Anaheim, including DL? If you allow yourself to think like a modern cost-cutting corporate leader, this is precisely the direction you'd take in order to conserve capital and pump up the bottom line.

    I simply do not see Disney having the stomach to keep both Fitzgerald and Baxter in Anaheim, doing the work of basically one person. The DLR is not WDW, and doesn't need as many Imagineers to oversee. Once DCA's Phase I is complete, Imagineering's role in DCA will be greatly reduced for several years. Only DL will need the extra attention, and that can certainly be handled by only one creative exec, not two. Since Tom is the new arrival, not to mention higher in rank and younger in age, I highly doubt he would be the one kicked to the curb.

    For those who have been paying attention, Disney has been slowly removing their senior employees bit by bit. Don't let the "leaving voluntarily" action fool you... most of these lifers did not want to leave, but felt they had no choice in order to keep their future options open. Disney has definitely been downsizing its most senior execs over the past few years, in an effort to both reduce labor costs and more importantly, bring in younger employees who are easier to exploit.

    Based on the average age of all employees, Disney is an old workforce, which almost all of corporate America detests now. Senior employees across all industries are losing their jobs in record numbers, mostly because corporate leaders no longer value their contributions and legacies within their respective companies. All they see and consequently care about is how much these senior employees cost the company in significantly higher salaries, which doesn't sit well in this day and age of maximizing profits at all costs.

    If anyone here thinks that Iger's Disney is immune from this type of corporate mindset, think again. This is precisely the mindset of The Walt Disney Company today. Ask any senior Imagineer like Tim Delaney or Rick Rothschild, or any studio exec like Dick Cook. These were good people who still had plenty of vitality and creativity left to offer Disney. But in Disney's eyes, they were too long in the tooth to care about anymore. It's all about youth, and driving down the average employee age, currently in the late forties, to something far younger. And in the eyes of those individuals who fired Delaney and Cook, Baxter is ancient and grossly overpaid for someone who's being babysat by a younger exec with a higher rank.

    Finally, if Tony were to "retire" as Marty Sklar and Dave Smith have done, I seriously doubt we would ever hear Tony admit that it wasn't exactly his idea to leave. Part of deal with leaving "voluntarily" is to keep the prospect of contract work alive. If Disney drags you to the curb kicking and screaming, you can kiss your chances of future contract work or invites to special events goodbye. None of the die-hard lifers like Marty or Dave or even Tony would ever jeopardize that, just to prove to their fans that Disney was a big bad meanie and took away their permanent salaried positions. No exec who has achieved that level of seniority would ever be stupid enough to shoot themselves in the foot like that.

    Do I believe that Tony will be coerced into retirement this year? I don't know; it's possible. Do I believe that Tony will be gone within a year or two? Yes. I don't see Tony remaining much longer, given the current situation with Fitzgerald. I also don't believe Burbank would want to continue paying Tony's high salary, given all the penny-pinching they're doing in every aspect of the company. Corporate America absolutely hates the well-paid senior exec with decades of service, and Disney is no exception.
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  2. #32

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    I'd say 3 years. because in about 3 years Carsland will have proven itself and the major jostling for Tomorrowland's makeover will be settled. As it stands John has a better position because of his Pixar babies (notably WallE, Toy Story, and Monsters Inc but don't forget Incredibles as much as I detest them). Tony has already pitched some amazing ideas, the problem is they aren't tied to a franchise... if he looses Tomorrowland (as I suspect he may) then at a minimum his role in Anaheim would be greatly reduced and history will have come full circle.
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  3. #33

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Blue Sky largely is correct. Tony IS/WILL be forced out ... it is just a question of time. And whether the fanbois like it or not, it will happen. That he has survived the viper's nest that is WDI for this long is a testament to the man's tenacity and political savvy as much as his considerable talent.

    But age and salary are huge factors. And if Marty Sklar and Dave Smith can be pushed out (however gently) just when Disney is launching D23 and rationally would want/need them the most, only a fool would think Teflon Tony is going to survive much longer. How long is anyone's guess.

    But in addition to the fact Tony and Tom can barely tolerate each other ... they were known as the Dueling Divas of Glendale ... it makes no sense fiscally for them and Bob Weis to all be working on DLR. The resort simply isn't that large and most of all the major projects that have been funded have either started construction or will within the year.

    Nothing is guaranteed beyond.

    Bob will be off to Shanghai. I've been told by multiple sources that he often isn't in Anaheim more than one day a week now.

    And that leaves Tom and Tony. Tom is younger and also became fairly close to DLR Prez George K when they both were in Paris the past few years. Knowing both George and Tony, I can't see them being very close. Not with their respective personalities.

    More to the point, just look at WDW. Eric Jacobson is the WDW portfolio leader for THREE parks, as well as much of the resort. He's the one running lead on the Animation Hotel, as far as I know too. The only park not under his auspices is DAK, where nothing has been happening, and he is instead hanging out in Oahu finishing Disney's new Aulani Resort.

    So for those who are crying about the DLH fountains leaving, you might as well steel yourself for the inevitable.

    Whether it's in six weeks or six months or maybe even sometime next year, Tony will be gone.

    And, no, I don't think it's a good thing ... but it is reality!
    Last edited by WDW1974; 07-01-2010 at 11:09 PM.

  4. #34

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by RenMan View Post
    I'd like to know more about the Tomorrowland 98 redo and the inner politics. Can you guys point me to some online articles? Or at least a thread or two here on MiceChat?
    With Michael Eisner and Paul Pressler calling the shots .... WDI got 100 million to redo Tomorrowland - which was not enough.

    Some argue that Tony and crew could have used that cash to better use in the land overhaul ... while some others conclude that they had their hands tied behind their back to work with what little was thrown at them.

    Hopefully there's more info out there .. what I know is rather sketchy.

    One other tid bit....
    GM pulled out of their planned sponsorship for Rocket Rods during the "developmental" stages.

    Too bad Disney didn't just drop in the cash GM yanked out .. for the sake of completing Tomorrowland.

    Goes to show how little the company thought of their futuristic land within "Walt's Original."

    Now about all this wrangling whether Tony is being "offered the door" in the near future....

    I hope he doesn't close out his career ... leaving Tomorrowland in it's current state.

    And even when the long, long, long rumored remodel happens .... I would like to see Tony's input applied into Frontierland expansion.

    But it's sounding like .. if he makes it through Tomorrowland's badly needed overhaul ... that's probably going to be his final project.

  5. #35

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    If he succeeds in getting a new Peoplemover up on the track, he DESERVES to retire. lol.

    Isn't it funny how the difference between a seasoned vet like himself and a new hire in his 20s or 30s probably amounts to a difference of 50 grand a year? For Corporate to try their hardest to get the old guys out amounts to a fraction of one day's revenue..it just baffles me that that's even a consideration.
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  6. #36

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpectroMan View Post
    Isn't it funny how the difference between a seasoned vet like himself and a new hire in his 20s or 30s probably amounts to a difference of 50 grand a year?


    You really have no clue how much the lifers actually make, do you?
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  7. #37

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpectroMan View Post
    If he succeeds in getting a new Peoplemover up on the track, he DESERVES to retire. lol.
    to be honest, I don't think Tony would ever retire. He loves his job so much and I think he wants to keep on helping the parks for the rest of his life.
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  8. #38

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    I seriously doubt he'd retire or be fired outright.

    He'll be moved into a ceremonial role for a couple years to dampen any fan outrage and reward him for his service -- the Marty Sklar treatment.

    I actually think he'll be perfect in the "Ambassador" role.

  9. #39

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Wow, a lot of assumptions floating around here. First off older employees sometimes do get "pushed out" of their positions but we don't know for a fact if Dave Smith was pushed out. The man has been with the company for 40 years and will be 70 in October and we can't believe that he is leaving on his own? The FACT is he has said that he himself has been thinking about retirement for 5 years now. I say, "thank you Dave you deserve the rest."
    Last edited by 1MNSDREAM; 07-03-2010 at 11:23 AM. Reason: Spelling

  10. #40

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Completely agree, this could be considered an assumption. It wouldn't be good if he left the company though, but if he does i'd rather it be on his own terms for whatever reason it is, it'd be a shame if he was kicked for financial reasons. I don't think he is leaving though.

  11. #41

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    But aren't Tony and Tom both working TOGETHER on the new Star Tours 2? Isn't this Tom pitching ideas at ILM for Star Tours 2, which Tony is also working on?



    So if thats true, doesn't it seem like their level of tolerance for eachother has improved?


    Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this whole mess is just a plot to see who leaves first, without any real action for the corporate people. If Tony and Tom still despise eachother, there will obviously be constant bickering. Maybe Disney just wants to shove one Imagineer out the door without really doing anything.

    And since Tom is higher rank, he gets paid much more.

  12. #42

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by RCT3 View Post
    And since Tom is higher rank, he gets paid much more.
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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by Princess Victoria View Post
    I do agree also that the 55th doesn't have to be something the park goes all out to brag about. I mean, the 50th was just five years ago. Are they supposed to have an all-out bash for the 60th, 65th, 70th, 75th, 80th, 85th, and so forth anniversaries? I think it's nice that they released some merchandise commermorating the 55th, but unless it's universally recognized milestone such as the 50th, 75th, or 100th anniversay, it doesn't need to be too big a deal. That being said, I certainly do like seeing at least some sort of acknowledgement of these more frequent anniversaries even if they are small in nature.
    The first post I've seen that I can agree with about a 55th anniversary.

  14. #44

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by dupton View Post
    The first post I've seen that I can agree with about a 55th anniversary.
    Please keep on topic. Thanks.

    There is a separate topic discussing the 55th.

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by mondo View Post
    I am planning on going to the WDFM to see his presentation. Do you want me to ask him about this and his future with WDI?
    Do you really expect him to answer honestly? Even if the rumor was true and he's planning to retire in the near future, I highly doubt he would admit to it now. That news will be announced by Disney on their timetable, not his.

    Look at what happened with Dave Smith. Neither Dave nor Robert announced their retirements from the Archives until just before the 40th Anniversary event at the Studios. Surely both knew weeks if not months in advance about their departures from Disney, but kept them secret from everyone.

    You can go ahead and ask Tony if he's retiring soon, but you'll get a denial. I guarantee it.
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