DisneyWhirl – New Top Execs in Orlando and Anaheim

Written by MiceAge. Posted in Disney News, Features, MiceAge Update

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colglazier

Published on January 10, 2013 at 4:44 am with 31 Comments

Just a short note on yesterday’s news…

We knew this executive shuffle was coming, and as before we see both the expected and the unexpected taking place. First and foremost the good news is that Florida will probably get some much-needed attention. George Kalogridis is familiar with the property, knows where all the skeletons are buried, and understands that paint is something to be used on a regular basis. (I even expect that even all the Orlando Pollyanna’s will come to see that things could be much better run and maintained than they been in the past.)

Kalogridis

While some folks didn’t always see eye to eye here, Kalogridis understood Disneyland was a show, and he kept it fresh and in good running order. Hopefully the work on getting the Orlando complex back into shape will start sooner rather than later, and then they can get serious about countering all the increased competition they will be facing.

Colglazier

As far as our new president here at Disneyland, we’ll see how much Michael Colglazier has evolved since his last stint here. There is certain to be a cultural adjustment, as unlike Florida, the core Disneylanders are just as keenly focused on show quality as they are revenue-generating. But so far the early word is good; Animal Kingdom for the most part is one of the better maintained parks in the Orlando resort, and Michael has been seen out and about the property, interacting with the cast members working it. (The Tree of Life falling to pieces was a result of many poor choices and decisions made by his predecessors.) I don’t think there’s any other theme park on the planet that gets the attention Disneyland does from both the world at large and its devoted clientele. There’s a very exciting future planned for the Anaheim resort, and hopefully Colglazier will be the showman to present it to us.

Apparently there are more changes to come in the Parks and Resorts division as far as executives being shuffled around, but so far it for us here it looks pretty good. (Goodness, even Zenia has a new lunch partner – Meg! And there may still be a division going away to satisfy the cost-cutting they mean to do – if not two.) As the cliché goes though, the proof will be in the pudding. And you know it will be very darn expensive pudding because it’s from Disney and they always get a premium price for it.

What are your thoughts on the exec shuffle? Post your impressions or insights below…

See you at Disneyland!

About MiceAge

The MiceAge crew was started by Al Lutz in 2003, and is committed to bringing you the inside Disney story that you just can't get anywhere else. As much as we'd all like to see more frequent rumor updates on the site, we only publish when reliable news and rumors are available to share. Generally, you'll find a new MiceAge news update from Al and crew once or twice a month on Tuesdays. The MiceAge news Editor can be reached at: [email protected]

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  • Malin

    What about the broken effects on attractions like Everest and Dinosaur? Are these down to decisions made by his predecessors? I’m not sure who MiceChat is talking to but Michael was VP of Animal Kingdom during a time when the Park has seen a massive decline in maintenance and upkeep. Perhaps someone can explain what a VP of a Disney Park is responsible for and why we shouldn’t hold this against him?

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    I’m hearing nothing but good things about Michael as well. It should be noted that Meg was the one really in charge of the WDW resort and set all budgets and priorities. Micheal, simply did a great job scraping by on the shoestring he had to work with. While some folks are surprised to see him getting the promotion, there is little doubt he’s capable. He’d certainly be the cast member choice.

    It’s saying something that disney chose a nice guy who loves the parks, is freaquently out and about in them, and who cares about cast and crew, rather than a stalwart Disney bureaucrat. I really do think that Micheal can hack it if he’s given the resources and authority and Meg stays out of the way.

    That makes Meg Crofton the wild card. Now that she’s not mostly running WDW, she’ll have more influence on other parks. And while that may work in favor of Disneyland Paris (which could use any help it can get), Meg’s touch could really hurt Disneyland (as her tenure at WDW is clearly the worst of that resort’s history). I’m not personally down on her. She was very warm when I met her in person at Cars Land. But there is simply no denying that Disney World has reached its low point under her tenure. I’m certain that Tom Stags and Bob Iger have made note of this as well.

    It’s this simple, if lightbulbs start burning out and paint starts pealing in greater frequency, entertainment is scaled back or foods begin to decline again at Disneyland, we’ll know something is wrong with Micheal. These are all things a park President can influence. But if no major attractions are built, budgets get slashed again and more draconian One Disney laws are passed down, that’s mostly Meg and Tom.

  • TarzanRocked99-06

    While I am thrilled George is coming back, I am not sure how effective he will be in realistically implementing a culture change here in Orlando especially with Meg being left in place to oversee everything. Until she goes, along with ppl like Phil Holmes it’s going to be very hard to shift the direction we are headed, but he certainly won’t make things worse so I am grateful for that. As for Michael to Disneyland, you guys better break him in quick, DAK suffers from extreme stagnation and maintenance neglect and both those items fall under his control. He has let the Everest problems continue unfixed as well as let Dinosaur fall into a state of disrepair. Park hours have been reduced under his watch and they are still running a decade plus old parade. He is not someone I feel comfortable taking over what is the crown jewel of the Disney Empire.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      I’m not seeing it that way. Everest and Tree of Life issues are extreme budgetary and Imagineering related issues well beyond Micheal’s control. It will take George or Meg to make them a priority to fix. Micheal doesn’t set the hours of operation of Animal Kingdom, that’s a resort wide decision made by Meg and crew.

      The individual park heads are just high level managers. For example, at DCA, we have Mary, who’s wonderful, supportive, makes a lot of great suggestions and whom cast members respect. But she doesn’t really make the big decisions, that was all George and above. Her job is to implement. To make the things happen that have been asked of her from above and to manage the daily operations. An important task to be sure, but we can’t blame Mary for the ugly queues in Paradise Pier, lack of merchandise variety, or even the too short hours in her park. That all comes from the resort President and his/her bosses.

      What we need to understand is that there are two types of executives at WDW today. One is the Meg Crofton lackey who believes in wringing every last penny out of the parks and giving back as little as possible, and the other is the survivor who does what he’s told to preserve his job and make what little magic he can under extreme adversity. George will be able to lift most of that cloud at WDW. But will Micheal be able to spread his wings at Disneyland, or has Meg clipped them yet again.

      Micheal CAN do this, if he’s allowed. What we are trying to figure out is how much more power Meg has over Disneyland now that she’s been asked to mostly stay out of the way at WDW? She’s got to do something with her time, and that’s the single thing that worries me most.

      MiceAge, MiceChat and our readers are watchful and we’ll be on this. If things begin to slide, we’ll scream it from the rooftops, share it with our media partners, and warn the world that something just isn’t right with Disneyland. And Disney knows that they have to be more careful at Disneyland these days. We’ve trained the fans here to demand quality. We can and must demand that Micheal continue and improve upon George’s lead. I’m hopeful that he’s up for it, but cautiously so.

      And to Meg, whom I’m sure will be given copies of everything that has been written here: there is still time for you to repair your image. Now that you have the problems of WDW off your plate, don’t create new ones for Disneyland. Reinvest in your parks, continue to improve things. All revenue enhancement with no investment in magic will result in you becoming the new Paul Pressler, and no one wants that, least of all you (that is if you want to be hired anywhere when you leave Disney). Use your power for good. The resorts can achieve record profits from investment but will only suffer from cuts. You can only cut once to make a profit from something, but if you invest that profit is recurring. Remember that.

      Consider DCA. It was not cuts, but rather massive investment which saved that property! Follow that example and opinions of you will change over night. We hold no grudges beyond our last visit to the parks. Things either feel right or they don’t. No one hates you, they hate the results of what you have done. Only you can fix that perception and it is well within your power to do just that. Be the Meg people will love, be the Meg Walt would have demanded, be true to the spirit of the magic and look beyond the balance sheet. True profits come from making something people want, not from diminishing it. There is still time . . .

      • BC_DisneyGeek

        Excellent post. I hope the powers that be see that you have to spend money to make money. If Harry Potter and Carsland didn’t make this clear, what will?

      • jcruise86

        Dusty, that was inspired!

        These two Dusty Sage posts and Al’s brief update, plus a Kevin Yee update on the state of Disney Quest–all today, make Miceage/Micechat my favorite place in the internet! Thank you all! (And Sam, and Fishy, etc.!)

      • Jeff Heimbuch

        I was going to write a long, thought out statement, but then I realized Dusty pretty much said exactly what I was going to. Well said, good sir! haha

      • Malin

        Meg still has Paris to mess up. Although CEO Phillipe Gas is doing a good job of that on its own.

      • AB Born

        Great post!!!

      • JulieMouse

        Wonderful thoughts, thank you for expressing what I am feeling as well.

      • JMazz

        “We hold no grudges beyond our last visit to the parks.”
        So true & well said. Thx.

      • JMazz

        BTW, even tho 2013 is still so very new, I nominate this as “post of the year”. Totallllly in the running for this unofficial award!!! :)
        Hard to top!

      • Internitty

        With great power comes great responsibility…

  • eicarr

    These shifts always seem to me as an attempt to hobble strides being made at Disneyland. Isn’t there any talented entertainment industry people in Los Angeles that can make a career at Disneyland, the best and most famous theme park on Earth, and not have to leave after 5 years??? I already know this new guy will be leaving for Tokyo, WDW or the GAP in five years only to be replaced by the guy in charge of timeshares at WDW. A talented Hollywood guy who would grow in his position and refuse to leave his Hollywood area would be great. They just have all these committedless pushovers with no real heart/love/commitment for DL and rollover and move to Japan or swamplands at will.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      If you don’t give your executives a growth path and continue moving them up the chain, they will leave you. You can get one or two 4 year contracts out of someone before they leave, unless they are given a career path they like.

      There are lots of middle management folks who are happy to stay put, but that is not the case for motivated people at the top.

      Disneyland is an increasingly important stepping stone to the top of the Disney Company. And rightfully so. :-)

      • troyer

        If directing Disneyland is viewed as nothing more than a stepping stone to a “higher” position(i.e.a position earning more $ and with more power) that petty selfish, and small-minded lack of appreciation of the genius/beauty of the Park in and of itself disqualifies the person for the post in the first place.

      • Internitty

        The alternative would be to put them in the vault for 7 years then re release them with bonus material

    • JMazz

      We do need another “showman” again. I think that type of person would follow well in the footsteps of Walt.

  • darkamor

    Both George Kalogridis (who will become President of Walt Disney World) & Michael Colglazier (who will become President of Disneyland) get my 100% … my problem is why the Walt Disney Co is continuing to hold onto that leach Meg Crofton (who I don’t see as the right executive to continue acting as President of Operations for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, United States and Paris) ….

    I’m hoping Meg Crofton retires @ the same time Robert A. “Bob” Iger plans to (2016?), so that we can get the “George Kalogridis” types @ the Walt Disney Co’s corporate higher up the corporate ladder (these executives understand what Cast Members / Park Guests want) …

    The Walt Disney Co would be foolish to lose either George Kalogridis, or Michael Colglazier, as you know the ever globally expanding Universal Studios would snag both executives quickly (Universal needs more theme park savy executives if they’re going to prep for expansions @ all of their Theme Parks) ….

    C J

    • jcruise86

      Iger is set to retire in 2015 and Thomas Staggs is said to be the frontrunner. If Staggs 800 million bracelet system at WDW does not appear to be money well spent, it might be bad timing for him.

      I’d prefer that Staggs, a former CFO, move into the Roy Disney, Dr./Frank Wells #2 moneyman role with a creative person at the top of Disney, like John Lasseter, Steve Burke, or (if he sold Dreamworks Animation to Universal or ?), Jeffrey Katzenberg.

  • jedited

    To eicarr,
    I think the reason that Disney shuffles it’s management around so much is because they are looking for the next replacement for senior management. You shouldn’t have the new head of parks and resorts be a WDW only guy (or gal). It’s better if they have worked throughout the parks and resorts worldwide.
    The same is true for the company as a whole. Ideally the next President or CEO of Disney should have experience in ALL aspects of the company (parks, movies, and TV).
    And sometimes it’s good to shake things up. Sometimes an outside perspective can help.
    It also allows Disney to find the correct fit for their talent. Jay Fasuolo was HORRIBLE as the Parks and Resorts chairman, but he seems to be doing a fine job as the CFO. Tom Staggs seemed to be a good CFO, but he is a much better Parks and Resorts chairman.
    I commend Disney for promoting from within and NOT hiring outsiders. Most of the BIG names (especially in Parks and Resorts) are LONG time Disney cast members.

    • Internitty

      I think all executives like Meg should put on the uniforms and work 2 weeks in the park with no preferencial treatment or showboating just doing the job an on stage empoyee does so they can stay in touch with the guests and cast members. It should be part of their job desription and not optional

  • sonnyk155

    Forgive my naivete but, why isn’t John Lasseter mentioned as an advisor or something. He seems to have the Walt mentality that may be missing from present executives. To me, he’s like the 3rd coming of Walt, after Steve Jobs.

    • jcruise86

      ^This.
      (And I’ve never written “^This.” before!)

    • stitch1085

      I think John is John and Walt is Walt. Unfortunately I think John has a huge uphill battle fighting off the “corporate” environment that has now been established in the Walt Disney Company. Walt was able to build his own path, whereas John can attempt to blaze a trail but he can’t wander off too far off the path that has been laid before him. I wish the Company would release John from all these rules and regulations and let him figure out what works and what doesn’t on his own and leave the pencil pushers and number crunchers out of the equation!

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I applaud the changes. My concern for Disneyland is to really have a long term plan. Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary is just around the corner. This could be as big as it was in 2005. It all depends on planning. We need a new parade and fireworks show. We need to really upgrade some of the less flattering parts of Disneyland, like Tomorrowland. I know that the President of Disneyland does not have really the authority but he can be a spokesmen for the great potential. WDW missed their opportunities of Epcot and WDW anniversaries. It was a penny wise pound foolish decision. I hope that Michael is not so focused on his own career path that he does put in the work to make the next five years a great one for Disneyland.

    • Bronco21

      Disneyland just got a new parade and a new fireworks show recently. We don’t new fireworks or parades (except maybe at DCA). We do need a fix for Tomorrowland and a long term plan that doesn’t appear like just throwing the next popular movie tie in ride around the parks. The whole idea that Iger is going to approve a major overhaul of Tomorrowland immediately after spending $1 billion on DCA is a little much to ask for. I don’t own any stock in Disney, but if the CEO of my company announced that the $1 billion, which had a very good return, was not enough, I might not be so eager to throw more money at it so quickly. We’ll see, but I have doubts about the speed at which we will actually see the Tomorrowland revamp.

    • Internitty

      I think that’s the basic fear of everyone posting here, that nothing will happen.

  • JMazz

    While I don’t always agree with Al, I must say, his sense of humor often gets overlooked when we are all *passionately* debating the minutia of DL. The last few lines of this article stuck me as quite funny.

    Thx for the laugh Al,
    Happy New Year,
    ~J

  • George Taylor

    To me, these are thoughtful changes and directions that the Company needs to take.

    Both execs are well thought of and the castmembers I spoke to (frontline and management) are really excited because they both have a good track record.

    As a Walt Disney World fan, I’m glad to see George coming back East. I hope he will address issues and bring back a love of working and creating the magic that we haven’t seen or felt in Florida in years.

  • WDWizard

    So, to summarize, Walt Disney World has suddenly entered a period of renaissance even before Kalogridis assumes his office, and Animal Kingdom’s maintenance problems are a stunning example of managerial negligence….until its VP Colglazier is announced as the new Disneyland president, after which it seems like its really not his fault, nothing to see here. Typical MiceAge – gotta love it.