Disney's Rob Michaelis: Once I Walked Through the Door, I Didn’t Want to Leave

by The Bloom Report | 01 May 2024

Biographies and Interviews



Hi Rob! Thank you for taking time to share with our readers what you do at Disney and a bit about your life. You have a very long title, can you tell us what you do in our industry?


I oversee Brand Commercialization for Hardlines in North America for Disney Consumer Products across all franchises including Disney, Marvel, Lucas, National Geographic, and 20th Century.


What is it about the Toy and Game Industry that you love?


I love helping bring joy and happiness to consumers of all ages.


It sounds trite, and sometimes we get lost in the day-to-day, such as inventory management, quality control, franchise management, etc., but ultimately, we’re making toys, which is both an honor and a responsibility.


From a professional standpoint, I love being part of a close-knit, collaborative industry.  Sure, it’s very competitive, but there are true friendships interspersed throughout every toy company, and I have made some great connections throughout my career.


Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?


Actually, I started in the athletic footwear and apparel industry, and that’s the area I worked on when I first came to Disney. Over time, I moved into different roles and took on different responsibilities, eventually leading a Hardlines team that oversaw Disney Princess, Frozen and other properties. Once I walked through the door, I didn’t want to leave.


What are you working on now that you’re most excited about?


The coolest thing about my job is that I work on so many different projects and properties that it’s never dull.  I’m incredibly excited about Disney Lorcana, our new strategic trading card game launched in collaboration with Ravensburger last August.  We recently released Wave 3, “Into the Inklands,” to continued success and are expanding globally to meet overwhelming demand.


What was your favorite project to date?


I loved working on Disney 100 – a company-wide celebration of our history, creativity and innovation.  It was so exciting getting to be a part of such historic milestone for the company and watching the entire enterprise rally around this momentous moment. 


What trends do you see in toys or games that excite?


I’m very excited about the innovation I’m seeing in building sets, role play and trading cards.  Not surprisingly, these are categories that thrive with personal interaction and uninhibited imagination and will likely resonate with all ages.


What excites you most about your job?


My wife and daughters tell me I’m the most immature person in our house, and I wear that description like a badge of honor.  Luckily, my job allows and encourages me, and those that I work with, to think like a kid, making this a fun and unique space to work in. I find it to be both liberating and exciting.


Who is your all-time favorite Disney character?


Mickey is, by far, my favorite Disney character. I’ve always admired and related to Mickey’s honest, easy going, and optimistic outlook.


Do you have any favorite Disney childhood memory?


I grew up in New York in a close-knit family with twin brothers who were four years older than I.  They were very competitive and talented high school wrestlers who liked showing me their latest takedown, so as you can imagine, sitting between them on our long drive to Florida for a family vacation to Disney World is forever etched in my memory.  While the drive was challenging, what I remember most is seeing Cinderella Castle in the distance as we approached the park.  Our visit did not disappoint, and it remains the best vacation I’ve ever had.


The toy and game industry clearly has….


A bright future.  I’m so impressed with the talent across our industry - in product design, development, innovation, etc.  We’re well-positioned for growth.



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