Tim Delaney had been with Imagineering since 1976. As Executive Designer, Vice President, his high points were easily Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris, the centerpeice of which is the incredible re-imagining of Space Mountain, and The Living Seas at Epcot.
On the low end Tim brought us California Adventure's inaugural entryway and Paradise Pier. Just two days before California Adventure opened, Tim defended the park with a ferocious tenacity not seen since the Queen Mother Alien fought off Ellen Ripley.
Doobie Moseley - Laughing Place: Have you been confident this whole time that this park (California Adventure) would be able to please Disney guests?
Tim Delaney: Absolutely, no question in my mind. Absolutely. The reason is because of the combination of the way it’s laid out and the art direction, everything about it...They’re going to love it and this is how I felt about this entire California project from the very beginning.
Dubious taste aside, Tim was still an old school champion of quality at Imagineering and always fought for the better show. It could easily be argued that getting even the most basic elements of quality green-lit for an Eisner-era project whose very manifesto was about cheaper than cheap meant a fight to the finish, something Tim hinted at in the same interview.
Tim: I like Paradise Pier. I knew it would be challenging but I knew we could do it. I knew that there was something there so I had to fight. It’s a fight.
It was that very spirit of holding firm to ones ideals that very well may have been Tim's undoing. Infact, most recently Tim fought hard for a truly first class version of Pirates of the Caribbean for Hong Kong Disneyland, but Jay Rasulo squashed the idea and sent him back to his room without supper.
Perhaps even more bewildering is the dismissal of Valerie Edwards, WDI's head sculpter, who had been with the company for 21 years and was a featured guest artist on the D23 webzine as recently as this August. She oversaw the creation of character sculptures for Disney parks throughout the world and just recently finished the sculpt of Barack Obama for The Magic Kingdom's Hall of Presidents.
As with Tim Delaney, she was known as a fearless champion of quality at Disney, something her mentors, master sculpter Blaine Gibson, Imagineering legend John Hench and animation artist and father George Edwards would have been proud of.
Judging by the emotional fallout over at WDI these past few days, her colleagues were equally proud.
Unfortunately current management saw her tenure a bit differently. Where previous mangement saw her value, today's leadership saw her as 'difficult'. Seems Valerie read John Lasseter's "Quality is a great business plan" memo too literally.
For the creative professionals who remain at WDI the message is both clear and ominous. Along with their feelings of loss and sadness comes a creeping fear that the company will continue to jettison those who fight for quality in order to promote those who just say, 'yes'.