Tom Williams was named chairman and chief executive officer of Universal Parks & Resorts (UPR) in September 1999. He reports directly to Universal Studios president and chief operating officer Ron Meyer.
Mr. Williams is responsible for oversight of all of Universal parks and resorts worldwide, including Universal Studios Hollywood and the Universal Studios CityWalk entertainment complex in Hollywood along with Universal Orlando Resort, which includes two theme parks, Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, three on-site hotels and Universal CityWalk.
Mr. Williams has led UPR’s support of Genting International’s successful bid to develop Resorts World at Sentosa in Singapore, which includes Universal Studios Singapore. It is Southeast Asia’s only Universal Studios theme park. In addition to the theme park, Resorts World includes six hotels, a marine life park, a 1,600-seat theatre and a luxurious casino with restaurants and retail shops. Universal Studios Singapore opened in March 2010.
Universal Studios Singapore is licensed by UPR, as is Universal Studios Japan, which opened in 2001 and achieved 11 million visitors in its first 12 months of operation.
More recently, Mr. Williams and UPR signed agreements with the Tatweer Dubai to develop Universal Studios Dubailand in Dubai, with Lotte Group and the Gyeonggi Provincial Government of South Korea to develop the Universal Studios Korea Resort near Seoul, and with ZAO Rusincom to develop Universal Studios Moscow in the Russian capital.
Mr. Williams also led development and creation of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort – a spectacularly themed area that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life and that has become a global entertainment phenomenon. Since its grand opening in 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has received multiple awards for outstanding achievement from the Themed Entertainment Association and has also been recognized by several industry and fan organizations. Universal has recently announced the expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort – and has also announced that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be created at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan.
Prior to his appointment as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for UPR, Mr. Williams was President and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Orlando, where he was responsible for overseeing Universal’s expansion in Florida into a world-class resort entertainment destination.
Mr. Williams joined Universal Studios Florida in 1987 as part of the project’s opening team and led the group that designed and developed all operational aspects for the new park, which debuted in 1990. Named president that year, Mr. Williams helped build Universal Studios Florida into a park the renowned Fodor’s Guide has named, “The best theme park in the world.” Both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have received the industry’s most prestigious honor, the coveted “Applause Award,” presented by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) for theme park, “management, operations and creative accomplishments that have inspired the industry with foresight, originality and sound business development.”
With more than 40 years in the hospitality and leisure industries, Mr. Williams began his career with Universal Parks & Resorts (formerly Universal Studios Recreation Group) at the Yosemite Park & Curry Company. He became Vice President of Hotels and Restaurants and was responsible for guest services and operations at twelve on-site hotels and fourteen restaurants prior to coming to Orlando in 1987.
A graduate of California State University, Fresno, Mr. Williams is a founding trustee of both World Class Schools (Florida) and United Arts of Central Florida and is on the Advisory Board for Give Kids the World.