Current Chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts, Tom Williams, has announced his retirement. He’ll be replaced in the role by longtime Universal Creative head, Mark Woodbury.

(Photo: Orlando Sentinel)

What’s Happening:

  • Tom Williams will retire effective March 16, 2022, while Mark Woodbury will step into his new role effective January 1, 2022.
  • Tom Williams has worked in tourism for more than 50 years – moving to Orlando in 1988 to open Universal Studios Florida. After being named the park’s president in 1990, he transformed Orlando into a destination with multiple parks, hotels and an entertainment complex. He was named Chairman and CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts in 1999 and continued to lead the expansion of Universal theme parks – including across the globe – with theme park destinations in Osaka, Singapore and Beijing.
  • Williams’ tenure as Chairman and CEO has seen consistent and dramatic growth in both attendance and revenue. He has led development of groundbreaking theme park rides, immersive lands, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Super Nintendo World, and entire destinations – most recently Universal Beijing Resort.
  • Mark Woodbury has been with Universal for more than 30 years. As vice chairman, he has been responsible for all planning and design strategy for Universal Parks & Resorts worldwide. And in his role as president of Universal Creative, he has led design and creation for all Universal ride experiences, themed lands, destination hotels, CityWalk entertainment complexes and theme parks. Most recently, Woodbury oversaw the creation of Universal Studios Beijing.

Tom Williams announced his retirement in a letter to Universal Orlando team members:

“Dear Team Members,

Today, you learned of my upcoming retirement after more than 50 years in the business.

The time is right for me to step back from our business and step toward more time with my family and the things I want to do during retirement.

I will always carry memories of so many of you and so many special moments we have shared together. The list is long, but I can remember all of them vividly. What has made each of them special is not a specific ride or theme park or event. It is all of you.

You truly are the greatest team in the business. I have always been inspired by you, the work you do and the humanity you bring to that work. Your greatest moments are when you come together and work as a team. It is amazing and awe-inspiring to watch.

I am lucky to have worked with so many of you. But I feel as if I have worked with each of you – because all we have achieved, we have achieved together. It is each of you who bring – and keep – the dream alive.

I wish all of you success, happiness and peace.

I have worked closely with Mark Woodbury for many years and I know the future of Universal Parks & Resorts is in good hands with him and with each of you. Mark’s vision, leadership, knowledge of our business and passion for what we do will serve him well as chairman and CEO. And I know each of you will do everything you can to support him in his new role.

Thank you for the years of commitment to our larger vision. Thank you for taking care of our guests. Thank you for taking care of each other. And thank you for the memories.”

What They’re Saying:

  • Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, parent company for NBCUniversal and Universal Parks & Resorts said: “Tom’s journey has been the journey of Parks itself. His vision and leadership has made parks a vital and vibrant business and has helped define modern theme park entertainment for us and the entire industry.”
  • Jeff Shell, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal said: “Mark has unique and essential insight into everything that makes Universal Parks & Resorts successful. Beyond his ability to create incredibly innovative guest experiences, he has tremendous experience with strategy, financials, stewardship of the Universal Parks brand and so much more. He has also been a key part of planning for the future of Universal Parks & Resorts. All this makes him perfect for this role.”