Where are they now?: Jason Marylander
May 3, 2023
"Everything I learned, I learned in Jason Watkins' technical theater classes," said Niwot High School grad Jason Marylander.
After graduating from Niwot High School in 2008, Marylander enrolled at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, as a computer science major. But when he realized that he didn't enjoy programming, he returned to his roots in theater. It was, in his words, a "bold choice" given the perceived lack of jobs at the time, but luck was on Marylander's side.
He moved to Los Angeles after finishing college and was able to get some part-time work with the Walt Disney Company.
"They liked me but could not offer me a full-time job, and they said, 'Hey, do you want to move to Florida?' and I said, 'No.' And they said, 'Do you want to for real?' and so I said 'Yeah,' and so I moved to Florida and started building stuff for Walt Disney," Marylander recalled.
Eventually, after building a number of live shows and other theme park attractions, he transitioned to work for Universal Studios, serving in similar roles. Now, he is the Senior Manager of Engineering and Safety at Universal Creative where he serves as the engineering manager for various live and themed entertainment projects for Universal Studios' new Epic Universe park, a multi-billion dollar project in Orlando.
One of Marylander's most noteworthy projects was at the Universal Beijing Resort where he was temporarily relocated to manage automation and robotics contracts at the Universal Beijing Resort, including a brand new theater attraction called "Untrainable," featuring characters from the 2010 film, "How to Train Your Dragon."
"I was functionally a senior manager for all the engineers for show control and big show action equipment," said Marylander. "The thing that flies Toothless over the audience in Beijing is what I do now." Marylander and his Universal Creative team recently won a prestigious Themed Entertainment Association's Thea Award For Outstanding Achievement-Live Event for their work on "Untrainable."
Seeing his projects come to life and the audience's excitement is, perhaps, most exciting for him. Marylander said that his success, however, wouldn't have been possible without the encouragement he's received from his family, his colleagues and the lessons he learned early on-largely from his time in Watkins' class.
"I was told very early on to go where the right job for you is," Marylander said. "Jason Watkins must have said that a million times."
Since high school, he's taken that advice and added his own: play to your strengths, and approach your goals "sideways."
"Be a journalist with a minor in acting, have other skills," he advised this writer.
Marylander explained that had he not explored computer science and had he not taken technical theater classes, he wouldn't be where he is today-even if his current role looks different than both of those original interests.
"I'm very lucky [and] took a lot of risky steps to get to where I am," Marylander said. "It's all about those other skills that make you interesting to the world... and thank god for Jason Watkins."