Universal Parks & Resorts has promoted Karen Irwin to President and COO of the company’s Los Angeles theme park operations, overseeing Universal Studios Hollywood as well as the adjacent CityWalk shopping and entertainment center. She takes over for outgoing president Larry Kurzweil, who is leaving to become President and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Lemonade Restaurant Group.
Irwin most recently served as EVP Global Merchandise and Partnership Development for the UPR division beginning in 2006. She will relocate from Orlando to Los Angeles for the job.
“Karen is creative, strategic, focused and a true leader and been at the forefront of our incredible growth in Merchandise over the past 10 years. She has a wealth of operational and senior management experience in all facets of our business and was instrumental in all of the development of our incredible Harry Potter offerings,” said Thomas Williams, Chairman & CEO, Universal Parks & Resorts. “Karen is uniquely qualified for this important role and we look forward to welcoming her to this new chapter in her career.”
“Larry has been a vital member of the Universal family and he will be missed. Since 1999, he has presided over the theme park’s many award-wining attractions and signature Studio Tour, including the park’s recent revitalization that transformed over 75 percent of the destination, culminating with the highly-anticipated arrival of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” Williams continued. “His passion, strategic insight and creative vision were invaluable to our business and we wish him much success in his new venture.”
Irwin started with the company in 1990 as part of the opening team for Universal Studios Florida. Among the roles she’s held in the ensuing 26 years: Director of Operations and Director of Support Services for Food and Beverage, VP Merchandise Operations and VP Revenue Operations. She became VP Partnership Development in 2004.