Karen Irwin named President, Universal Orlando Resort, as Bill Davis retires | TravelDailyNews International
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Karen Irwin named President, Universal Orlando Resort, as Bill Davis retires

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Tom Mehrmann named President, Pacific Rim, Universal Parks & Resorts – Overseeing Universal destinations in Hollywood, Osaka, Beijing.

ORLANDO, FL – Universal Parks & Resorts announced that Karen Irwin, President of Universal Studios Hollywood, will become President of Universal Orlando Resort as current president Bill Davis retires after 15 years as president and a career spanning decades in the tourism industry.

In other developments, the company announced that Tom Mehrmann, who most recently served as President of Universal Beijing Resort, will take on a newly created role as President, Pacific Rim, Universal Parks & Resorts, overseeing Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Japan and Universal Beijing Resort – using his significant domestic and international industry experience to create a shared, best-practice approach to operating those parks. Reporting to Mr. 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.

All the above will be 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. Ms. Irwin and Mr. Mehrmann will report to Mr. 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 Mr. 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.”

  • Bill Davis became President of Universal Orlando Resort 15 years ago after a career in tourism that spanned decades – both domestically and internationally. Mr. Davis led Universal Orlando Resort through a historic expansion that included legendary lands such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and entire theme parks such as Volcano Bay.

Bill is a legend in our industry and here at Universal,” Mr. Williams said. “His passion for our business, for our team members and for excellence have inspired all of us. Orlando team members know Bill has been a constant presence in our parks – and I will always remember my frequent walks through the parks with Bill as we reviewed our business and, more importantly, built our friendship.”

  • Karen Irwin became president of Universal Studios Hollywood in November 2016, where she has overseen tremendous growth in the business. She has been with Universal Parks & Resorts more than 30 years – serving in a wide range of increasingly responsible roles that included oversight of food and beverage operations, merchandise and partnership development. Ms. Irwin will be returning to Orlando, where she began her career with Universal. Most recently, she led Hollywood’s development and opening of The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, which has recently been awarded Outstanding Achievement – Attraction by the Themed Entertainment Association.
  • Tom Mehrmann has more than 45 years of experience in the theme park industry, holding a variety of leadership roles both domestically and internationally. He joined Universal Parks & Resorts in 2017 as President and General Manager of Universal Beijing Resort – Universal’s largest theme park destination at opening – overseeing every aspect of its development and successful grand opening.

Additional executive leadership updates include:

  • Alice Norsworthy, currently Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Universal Parks & Resorts, will become President of Global Marketing, Universal Parks & Resorts. Ms. Norsworthy’s extensive industry experience, including 13 years with Universal, have positioned her to lead the company’s ongoing growth as a world-leading, global theme park entertainment brand.
  • Page Thompson, currently President and Chief Operating Officer, Universal Parks & Resorts – International, will take on a new role as President, UPR New Ventures. Mr. Thompson has played a key leadership role in 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.

Ms. Norsworthy, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Hightower will report to Mr. Woodbury.

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,” Mr. Woodbury said. “Our industry is strong, our company is strong and I have confidence in what we will do together.”

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