After a 32-year career with Disney Imagineering, Patrick Brennan will join UCF’s Themed Experience graduate program as a visiting instructor. Brennan previously worked as an adjunct instructor in the program but will transition to a full-time teaching role for the next year while a search is conducted for the permanent position.
UCF’s Themed Experience program began in 2019 to meet the growing demand for creating experiences across the tourism, hospitality and events industry in Orlando and beyond. Themed experience — which has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business — can be found not just in theme parks but also hotels, restaurants, retail establishments and even places like zoos and museums. Students in the themed experience program will have the opportunity to learn from Brennan’s extensive experience working on some of the world’s most notable theme park attractions, including Horizons Pavilion and Norway Pavilion at Epcot, Typhoon Lagoon and Splash Mountain in Tokyo Disneyland.
Before his retirement in 2016, Brennan was a creative development executive for Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, California and led a group of creative producers, show managers, global design and show quality teams responsible for design work at the Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
Born in New York, Brennan graduated with a degree in fine arts from the University of Miami. His themed experience career began with working on the design and construction of the Miami Metro Zoo, creating natural habitats for animal exhibits. In 1980, he launched his international career with the Walt Disney Company, working in production and show installation for Epcot in Orlando, Florida.
In 1995, Brennan was hired as design director for Tokyo Disneyland and oversaw the park’s day-to-day creative direction. Brennan then returned to Florida’s Walt Disney World in 1998, where he served as director of show design for Walt Disney Imagineering. In 2006, he moved back to Japan to become the director of design and production for Tokyo DisneySea. In 2008, he again returned to Orlando as Vice President of Global Design and Show Quality. He came out of retirement in 2018 to act as Art Director and Creative Director for Wildwood Grove at Dollywood, the largest expansion in the park’s history.
UCF offers a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre, Themed Experience track and a Master of Science in Themed Experience. UCF’s first cohort of themed experience graduates completed their studies in spring 2022 and quickly found themselves a hot commodity for Central Florida employment even before they crossed the commencement stage. More than 60 students are enrolled between the two programs for the 2022-23 academic year.