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ITEC Entertainment’s Bill Coan on how Imagineering shaped his future

By Richard Bilbao  –  Digital Producer/Senior Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal

Sep 30, 2021

Bill Coan is well-versed on how Disney theme parks bring attractions to life.

The president and CEO of Orlando-based ITEC Entertainment Corp., an attractions, entertainment and tourism design and project management firm, spent 13 years as a Walt Disney Imagineer — the entertainment giant’s specialty artisan group that includes builders, artists, designers and craftsmen.

Today, he takes best practices and inspiration from his Disney stint from 1979-1993 and uses them to assist his clients — notable companies like Universal Parks & Resorts, Six Flags, NASCAR and, of course, The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) — with rides, experiences, themed retail and dining and more.

Coan fondly remembers his time with Disney, where he finished his tenure as a design manager after the completion of Euro Disneyland, formerly known as Disneyland Paris.

Now, as Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary, Coan often finds himself visiting the theme parks both for leisure and business. Disney will begin celebrating its 50th anniversary Oct. 1 with myriad new shows, rides, experiences and more.

Here, Coan shares more on his time at Disney and lessons learned:

What did you do at Disney? I began my career at Disney in 1979 as a landscape architect and planner working on Epcot Center, and then worked in Orlando, California and Paris, as well as some interesting real estate projects Disney did through its Disney Development Co.

What strategies did you learn while working at Disney? Most of my formative education in entertainment design and development comes from Disney, so nearly anything we do at ITEC Entertainment is at least inspired by what we learned there.

Why did you leave Disney? The evolution of my professional aspirations, life as a new father and simple timing guided my decision to leave for a new chapter.

Three things you learned at Disney that you use in business today:

  1. With perfection as a goal, excellence will follow.
  2. The value of enduring professional and personal relationships
  3. Both success and failure are equally important.

What does Disney still do best today that you admire? Disney remains the best at the comprehensive guest experience based in rich storytelling.

What’s your must-do thing when visiting Disney? Take time to enjoy the art of story-based design in the rides, shows and environments. That is where you will find the magic in the Magic Kingdom.

What piece of Disney memorabilia do you have that nobody knows about? In several projects, I was able to leave behind some evidence of my participation. From simple dated initials in concrete to live Christmas trees that spent a holiday in my home later to became part of Disney theme park.

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