Dave Burkhart is a seasoned professional in the themed leisure entertainment industry, with over 37 years of experience in design development and design execution. He has led design and delivery teams at all levels from attractions to Full Gate Parks at The Walt Disney Company and at Universal Studios. He is a highly creative designer and problem solver, has an extensive background in creating project teams, and implementing design plans, then executing them successfully in the field.
After graduating with honors in Design from California Institute of the Arts, Dave began his career in the themed entertainment industry in 1967 at Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney’s creative design and development organization. He served as an artist–modelmaker, and then became a Show Designer and Field Art Director. He was responsible for show, ride, and facility concepts through show installation at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, for such attractions as the Haunted Mansion, Swiss Family Tree House, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
In 1974, he became Superintendent of Decoration at Disneyland, responsible for the maintenance of the Park’s day to day ”show aspects” and the design interface with Imagineering. He was later promoted to Manager of Buildings and Grounds, where he was responsible for Decorating, Landscaping, Carpentry, Fiberglass, and the Paint/ Sign departments.
In 1984, he was assigned to the Tokyo Disneyland Project. He developed the Show Quality Assurance Program for the project, and trained the Japanese management staff in show quality to assure the ongoing maintenance of the original design intent for the Park. He was also responsible for the planning, purchasing and installation of the interiors and props programs for the Park, as well as serving as counterpart Maintenance Director for the pre- and post-opening period.
In 1983, Dave repatriated to the U.S. and to Disneyland where he held numerous Show Quality and Project team leadership positions. In 1990, Dave returned to Imagineering as Senior Show Producer for such attractions as Mickey’s Toontown and Fantasmic at Disneyland, as well as a major attraction expansion program at Disneyland Paris. Dave was then promoted to Vice President of Imagineering’s international Show Quality Standards effort, and also served as Executive Producer for the Disneyland Portfolio.
In 1996, Dave joined Universal Studios as Creative Director for the development of the Universal Studios Japan Theme Park. In that role, he led the Creative team in the concept and design development of the $1.6 billion Park’s design. In 1998, he was promoted to Senior Vice President and Executive Project Director, and his responsibilities were expanded to include full business and creative management of the project. He relocated to Japan, and continued to serve in that capacity through the successful construction, installation and delivery of the project.
Since returning to the US, Dave has consulted on a number of theme park and resort projects for the United States and the Middle East including a major resort development project with over 1,300 hotel rooms, retail, dining and entertainment planned for development in Dubai, UAE.