Walt Disney Animation Studios

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Walt Disney Animation Studios Reviews

Updated March 10, 2015
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4.2
31 Reviews
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Walt Disney Animation Studios President, Pixar and Disney Animation Ed Catmull
Ed Catmull
18 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. scale of 1 to 10- 10 being extremely satisfied. I am at 6. Just right of neutral

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Cartoonist/Animator in Burbank, CA
    Current Employee - Cartoonist/Animator in Burbank, CA

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Disapproves of CEO
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Decent pay and perks. Free amusement park entrance is the best perk out of all.

    Cons

    Difficult to move up. Very cliquey. Unqualified people seem to get promoted because they are friends with the right people. Qualified people are left in middle management positions to rot.
    Communications is horrible. Information is limited, you feel kept in the dark about projects that youare working on. There is no loyalty. Employees are just drones. HR is two faced and can't be trusted.

    Advice to Management

    Transparency, straightforwardness. Integrity. Do what you say you are going to do and just be honest. The corporate culture breeds insecurity and paranoia about having a job or soon getting laid off. It is a toxic place to work.

  2. Helpful (1)

    Challenging work, but respect can be stolen.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (More than 10 years)

    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Lot's of leading edge challenges. Your peers are top of the field and generally great people to work with. Technology is "part of" production so you are not treated like a third-party vendor like at many other studios where an artificial wall is placed between the two.

    Cons

    Middle management tends to "manage up", meaning they are more concerned with what their boss thinks of them than what their team needs. Credit is often stolen or dolled out to other people if it makes the manager, or perhaps the team, look better -- no matter how much work the appropriate individual put into the project. Despite the call of "you can move around there are so many interesting projects" you actually tend to get stuck on a project until it dies (with a few noticeable great exceptions).

    Advice to Management

    Treat your developers more fairly. Don't promote subpar developers to be managers. Let efficient teams manage themselves instead of installing artificial management schemes on top (scrum for groups with team sizes under 2 is nonsensical). Don't "normalize" your teams performance scores if your team actually DOES perform better than another managers team!

  3. Studio that respects the artists

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    - great people to work with
    - talented people
    - lot's of out of the box thinking

    Cons

    - lots of history that makes it hard for new people to "fit in"
    - executive team not at one page

    Advice to Management

    let go of the past

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  5. Helpful (4)

    Pros and Cons, just a wider margin

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (More than 8 years)

    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Nice benefits, individual offices with doors are great for focused work, amazing talent under one roof.

    Cons

    Amazingly short-sighted leadership that focuses on retaining employees who are young, cheap, and lack experience. Very little loyalty to individuals who strive for long-term payoffs.

    Scheduling is poor; the studio dictates a release date, but the leadership takes far too long to put the work into production, which leads to unnecessary tight schedules that are completely unreasonable. Artists work hours off the clock to meet these deadlines, and management turns a blind eye to it because there is no other option. Rinse, repeat, but with a tighter schedule the next film.

    Advancement and retention is skewed by how well you manage your relationship with your boss. No turnover of leadership, and very easy to get pigeon-holed in your job. Cross-departmental shifts are rare. Lots of closed-door politics.

    Advice to Management

    The major complaint has been work/life balance. The complaint is #1 year after year.

  6. Helpful (3)

    Good place, but watch your back

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Good studio, good artists. There have been lots of new artists recently. It is headed in a better direction than it was in the past 10 years

    Cons

    tough to trust others and a bit secretive. Lots of backbiting and talk behind closed doors. A difficult work environment unless you have a network of friends within the system

  7. Helpful (1)

    It's a lot like high school

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Studio is full of top-notch artistic talent and it's great to rub elbows with the greats. Everyone is on a first name basis.

    Cons

    It's very clickish, like high school. Sometimes it's not enough to do a good job- you have to click with the right folks to get promoted.

    Advice to Management

    Help your employees by teaching them and mentoring them. Tell them what they are doing right and what they can improve on and help them soar.

  8. Helpful (1)

    OK

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Assistant in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Approves of CEO
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Working with such creative people.

    Cons

    No flexibility and career advancements.

    Advice to Management

    People won't stay just because they get to work for the mouse. Be more fair with benefits.

  9. Helpful (1)

    Fun, but fickle

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO
    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The work itself is creative and enjoyable. The potential for long term employment is better since the projects are longer than the typical VFX house project.

    Cons

    Young, cheap talent is sought after. Age and experience is not highly regarded. You are only as good as your latest job. Of all the good qualities of an employee: speed, innovation, reliability, dedication, practicality, accuracy etc., etc, flash reigns supreme. The management can often be naive.

    Advice to Management

    The greatest motivator for an artist (aside from salary!) is personal feedback that is specific and real from someone "in the know". General praise is generally void of any real meaning.

  10. Helpful (3)

    From Software

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Pros

    There is a pretty good interaction between software and production, at least in some departments. Software gets to sit mixed in with production unlike some other studios. No one shares a desk but you do sometimes share offices, and sometimes have to work from a cubicle. The upside really is getting to work closely with the artists though and not being segregated as a separate unit that just releases software and is thought of as "those guys".

    Cons

    Production is still king. Even when it comes to areas where clearly they know little, and you know best, they will trump you and dictate the approach. It is always clear who is in charge and that can make things difficult when it comes to creating the best software for the job. The artist might always know what they want, but they might not always know how it should be designed, created, and delivered to them. Some things should be left to software to handle.

    Advice to Management

    Stop cutting costs in software and technology while continuing to spend big money in production. It hurts morale that there are no perks left for the software group while there are weekly "happy hours" for production. It also hurts that there is "down time" with off-site fun activities for production but that time is always spent by software to "redouble our efforts" to get even more cool tools ready for production when they get back to work. Some equality in these perks and in down time (time to recharge) would go a long way to making everyone feel like they are on the same team.

  11. All hail Pixar!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    * You get a silverpass to the parks...if you're full-time non contract
    * Disney Animation is an awesome name to drop when talking to people not in the movie industry
    * Much better balance of work to life ratio then most studios/vfx houses
    * Got to love the history of the place!

    Cons

    * Since Pixar took over WDFA is pretty much the red headed step child.
    * Production is really click oriented. Skills are fine but connections are better.
    * With the production of money losing picture after money losing picture the moral isn't the best.
    * How long can WDFA survive without producing a picture that makes any money? Thus, most don't expect too many future opportunities at Southside (a reference for the real FA vets out there).

    Advice to Management

    The stories coming out of WDFA are nowhere near the quality of the ones coming out of Pixar. Is it the legacy of Disney that constrains or is it the Story department?

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