Paris operations chief named Disneyland president Tuesday, 13th October 2009 00:21 GMT
Our resortís own George Kalogridis, chief operating officer for Disneyland Paris, has just been named as the new president of Disneyland Resort in California.
The coveted position in California opened up after previous president Ed Grier stepped down last week
, right on schedule at 3 years into the job.
For newly-promoted Kalogridis
, this also ends a three-year reign. George became Chief Operating Officer (COO, or French title, Directeur Gťnťral Adjoint: Opťrations
) for Euro Disney SCA, operating group of Disneyland Paris, back in 2006 after Karl Holz was promoted to Chief Executive Officer.
In that time, weíve seen new parades, new shows and no less than six new attractions ó including of course, the formidable Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
. Weíve also enjoyed a renewed focus on the resortís upkeep and details, increasingly wonderful Cast Members, new initiatives like Extra Magic Hours and E-Tickets, and in pure number terms, the most successful years of the resortís life to date.
Meanwhile, characters have taken over some of the magic of the original park, proper entertainment has been shunned in favour of street dance-alongs, attractions have been forced into reduced operating hours, hotel pools have stayed closed until 3pm, the official website has remained incredibly poor, and progress, generally, at Walt Disney Studios Park
has been disappointingly slow and half-hearted. And of course, during his entire run as COO, George Kalogridis would never
have seen the front of Disney Studio 1
ó it being flanked first by Chicken Little
advertisements, then later a ďrefurbishmentĒ covering for the past 14 months.
Overseeing such a large programme of expansion should certainly have set him in good step for the continuing billion-dollar expansion and improvements still ahead at Disneyís California Adventure park, if his time overseeing the opening
of that park didnít already ó he was their senior vice president of operations first, from 2000 to 2002. Further back, he has history in Paris as one of the original Cast Members on the pre-opening development team in 1988.
The past three years have been spectacularly successful for Disneyland Paris, and we can only hope that the incoming COO is somebody who knows exactly what Disneyland should
be ó (preferably the Californian or Japanese version, eh?) ó and how to achieve that kind of quality more consistently in Paris.
Euro Disney SCA have yet to announce a replacement. UPDATE (01:46 GMT)
ó The OC Register ďAround DisneyĒ blog has just posted an exclusive Q&A with George Kalogridis
, with several interesting comments on the similarities between the California and Paris resorts and some operational tricks learnt in Paris. Hereís an excerpt:
Q. What have you learned from other resorts and your previous stint here that you can bring to the new job?
A. Probably, the one thing thatís most interesting is Disneyland Paris and Disneyland California are the two sites that are the most similar. Both have two theme parks, resort hotels and a retail-entertainment center. Both are in an urban environment. Secondly Ö in the last three years, Iíve opened a new major attraction each year in my time in Paris. So, I think I also have very recent experience opening a big new attraction. I see the same opportunity here.
Q. What lessons did you learn from the similarities of Disneyland and Disneyland Paris?
A. I think the dynamic of guest visitors and whether or not they choose to cross over to the other park and what makes them choose to do that. Itís an interesting dynamic. Thereís no recipe for it. But itís a big issue as to how you operate. I think we had some learning in Paris. For example, turning the direction of the parade made a big difference in terms of the crush exiting to get to the other park. Again, itís not that itís the right thing or the wrong thing here, but itís learning. Ö I think the Paris site and this site are the only ones where guests can walk between two parks without a mode of transport.
Q. How do you see your role with guests?
A. I hope, first of all, to be able to meet many of them. Ö My job has to make sure everything is in place for everyone to take care of the guests and the product.
Q. As Orange Countyís largest employer, how do you see your role in the community?
A. Itís obviously an important role. Ö I think my experience tells me that weíve got great relationships with the government, the city and the county and Iím confident that they will continue in the future.
And some good news for Disneyland Resort fans (and MiceAge columnists) ó George states very specifically that ďIím in the parks and hotels more than Iím not. Iím a visible person. [...] My goal is to be very visible. And in my time with the company, thatís always proven to be something thatís doable.Ē