Big changes are happening at Universal Destinations & Experiences.
Universal made a significant announcement today that Molly Murphy will take on the role of President of Universal Creative. This news comes as a surprise to many, as Murphy’s previous experience lies primarily with Gensler, a global architecture company that is quite controversial amongst theme Park fans.
New Universal Announcement Leaves Fans Divided
On July 10, 2023, Universal Destinations & Experiences announced their selection to the public. There is no doubt that Murphy is incredibly qualified for the position; she has extensive experience working in the travel, hospitality, and cruise line industries. However, many Theme Park fans feel less than thrilled about the company that Murphy used to work for.
Gensler, Murphy’s past employer, is a massive name in the world of architecture, design, and planning. At Gensler, Murphy worked as the principal and Co-Managing Director of Gensler New York. There, she used her talents to create immersive experiences as the co-founder of the company’s Digital Experience Design practice. Some of her most notable accomplishments include her help in creating the ARIA Campus in Las Vegas, a massive $9 billion dollar campus that excels in entertainment and hospitality.
Fans Fear The “Gensler Curse”
With so much experience in this industry, you would think that Universal fans would be thrilled with this announcement. However, Murphy’s past with Gensler has made more than a few theme Park fans concerned.
Gensler has some strong haters in the community. Many feel that Gensler is devoid of creative vision, and its “bland” reputation has raised more than a few concerns.
The GENSLER-ification of theme parks continues!
First Barbara Bouza from GENSLER becomes Imagineering Co-President and now Molly Murphy from GENSLER becomes president of Universal Creative.
Get ready Universal fans, some bland hotel re-themes are coming your way! https://t.co/OclyboQObs
— DSNY Newscast (@DSNYNewscast) July 10, 2023
Since the announcement, Twitter has blown up with fans expressing their concern over this new President.
Gensler’s an architecture firm not a themed entertainment design firm. The best theme park designers come from art, cinema, storytelling – They dream an experience, then use architects at the right time to help create a time and place. https://t.co/ul6Tdk1BFL
— OLD DISNEY/NEW DISNEY (@TRVLtruth) July 10, 2023
It is clear that the concern amongst fans is very real. Moving forward, the community will be looking closely at Muphy’s work to see if she is able to meet explanations or if she will ultimately fulfill the fears of fans.
Universal’s Official Announcement
The official press release from Universal:
Molly joins Universal from Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm where she led global and technical teams and delivered award-winning brand and design strategies for clients in the travel and hospitality, leisure and cruise line industries. Most recently, she was Principal and Co-Managing Director of Gensler New York, where she co-founded Gensler’s Digital Experience Design practice, which uses interactive and visualization technologies and specialized software to enhance physical spaces and create immersive experiences. Her teams’ work can be seen all over the world and notably at Las Vegas’ ARIA Campus, a $9B entertainment, hospitality and retail district and the world’s largest LEED-certified campus at its opening.
“Molly has an energy and a set of proven capabilities that will further enhance our ability to deliver the most immersive stories and experiences to our guests,” said Mark Woodbury, Chairman and CEO, Universal Destinations & Experiences. “Our focus on expanding the Universal brand to new people, in new places and on new platforms is well underway. Her ability to blend technology with architecture, brand and design will help take our great product to even higher levels.”
As President, Molly will develop and lead the long-term vision and strategy of Universal Creative while overseeing daily operations, creative development and project delivery globally. In addition, she will collaborate with leaders across the organization to accelerate delivery of cutting-edge creative that positions our Destinations as the leader in theme park attractions, immersive entertainment experiences and next generation offerings.
“Human interaction and connection are at the heart of physical design and the delivery of compelling places,” said Molly Murphy, incoming President, Universal Creative. “Universal brings this idea to life better than anyone else, and I am looking forward to joining the team as we create authentic, lasting experiences for our guests and fans around the world.”