Universal Parks & Resorts made a number of big announcements today, among them that Karen Irwin, President of Universal Studios Hollywood, will become President of Universal Orlando Resort. That property’s current president, Bill Davis, is retiring after 15 years at his post.
Irwin began her career with Universal in Orlando. Most recently, she led the development and opening of The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash at the Hollywood park. That project was recently named Outstanding Achievement – Attraction by the Themed Entertainment Association.
The company also revealed that Tom Mehrmann, who recently served as President of Universal Beijing Resort, will take on a newly created role as President, Pacific Rim, Universal Parks & Resorts. In that capacity he will oversee Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Japan and Universal Beijing Resort.
The move is meant to leverage what the company calls Mehrmann’s “significant domestic and international industry experience to create a shared, best-practice approach to operating those parks.” Mehrmann joined Universal Parks & Resorts in 2017, overseeing every aspect of the Beijing resort’s development and successful grand opening.
Reporting to Mehrmann as business leaders will be Scott Strobl, currently Senior Vice President of Operations at Universal Studios Hollywood, in the new role of Executive Vice President and General Manager of Universal Studios Hollywood, J.L. Bonnier, President of Universal Studios Japan and Joe Hoskin, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Universal Beijing Resort.
The above changes are effective January 1, 2022, as Mark Woodbury, currently President of Universal Creative and Vice Chairman, becomes Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Universal Parks & Resorts following the retirement of long-serving Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Williams. Deadline reported that news in early November.
Irwin and Mehrmann will report to Woodbury as part of his executive leadership team.
“I want to express my gratitude to Tom Williams for his leadership, his vision and for all I have learned from him,” said Woodbury. “Because of Tom’s extraordinary leadership and the work and commitment of everyone at Universal Parks & Resorts, we can be confident in and excited about the future of our business.”
Woodbury expressed confidence in his new team.
“I am grateful to have worked with so many of these talented leaders through the years – and I am
excited to work with them as we move into the future,” he said. “Our industry is strong, our
company is strong and I have confidence in what we will do together.”
Additional executive leadership updates for Woodbury’s team include:
Alice Norsworthy, currently Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Universal Parks & Resorts, will become President of Global Marketing, Universal Parks & Resorts. Norsworthy is a 13 years Universal vet.
Page Thompson, currently President and Chief Operating Officer, Universal Parks & Resorts – International, will take on a new role as President, UPR New Ventures. Thompson helped lead the development of Universal Beijing Resort and continued growth of Universal Studios Japan. In his new role, he will work to identify new opportunities for Universal to expand the concept of theme park entertainment and bring the brand to life for new audiences.
As previously announced, Michael Hightower, Senior Vice President, Executive Project Director for Universal Parks & Resorts, will become President of Universal Creative effective January 1, 2022. He will lead the design and creation for all Universal ride experiences around the globe.