As the Walt Disney Co. approaches the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, the anticipation of the party continues to be overshadowed by an increasingly bitter split between the Disney family and the Michael Eisner team that runs the company.
The latest broadside from Roy E. Disney, Walt’s nephew, comes on the heels of Disney’s shuttering of its Florida-based 2D animation unit yesterday. In a statement released late Monday Disney commented: "Closure of the Walt Disney Florida Feature Animation facility is yet another example of Michael Eisner’s de-emphasis of creativity and total indifference to the impact his decisions have on the people who helped to make the company great. Once again, the Eisner regime has emphasized short-term gains over long-term value. The drain of talent over the past several years from the company’s feature animation department in Orlando, Burbank, Paris and Tokyo has been absolutely gut-wrenching. People are being asked to leave because management–particularly Michael–can’t figure out what to do with them. That certainly is not the fault of the talent. It is the fault of the so-called strategic thinkers at headquarters."
As of press time, Disney execs had no comment on the Roy Disney statement. After he was forced to resign from the company board late last year, Disney released a letter he’d sent to Eisner asking him to step down as CEO.
President of Walt Disney Feature Animation David Stainton also issued a statement about the closing of the Florida facility, saying, "(It was a) difficult decision based on what is the best strategically for our business in both the short and long term. Having the entire animation group working together in Burbank under one roof will further enhance our filmmaking process.”
Five years ago Disney employed more than 2,000 people in its animation division. That number has shrunk to around 600.