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Disney kicks Meg Crofton upstairs; Disneyland's Kalogridis takes over Walt Disney World

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Published: January 9, 2013 at 1:03 PM

The Walt Disney Company today announced a rumored change in leadership among its top theme parks. Walt Disney World president Meg Crofton moves upstairs - to the "President, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France" position that she's held concurrently with her job running the company's flagship resort, in Florida.

That leaves an opening to run the Walt Disney World Resort, and that job's going to Disneyland President George Kalogridis, who oversaw the wildly successful revamp of Disney California Adventure.

Meg Crofton and George Kalogridis
Meg Crofton, left, and George Kalogridis, right, watch the red carpet arrivals at the opening of Cars Land in June 2012, from the balcony of the Carthay Circle at Disney California Adventure.

Michael Colglazier is moving over from Disney's Animal Kingdom to run Disneyland, replacing Kalogridis.

What does this mean? Success equals promotion. Disneyland thrived under Kalogridis, who will now get the opportunity to pump up Walt Disney World the way Disneyland improved under his leadership. Remember, Disney recently sent Cars Land creative director Kathy Mangum east to oversee Imagineering and design at the WDW resort. Clearly, Disney Parks chairman Tom Staggs and Disney management have decided to entrust Walt Disney World to Disneyland's management team, instead.

But what about Crofton's "promotion"? Remember, this is a side gig that she was doing in addition to the very full-time job of running the Walt Disney World Resort. Whatever Crofton will be doing now, it appears clear that it's the Disneyland team that's now in charge at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Update: My favorite line from Disney's official bio for Kalogridis? "George began his career at Walt Disney World in 1971 as a busboy at the Contemporary Resort." This is no outsider.

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on January 9, 2013 at 3:07 PM
It is obvious that Iger and CO. realize the WDW Resort needs a little bit of love and they are bringing in the talent to get the job done. Great news!

However, on the Disneyland side of the equation, I am concerned. Michael Colglazier... isn't he the fella who has allowed Everest's Yeti to sit in strobe lit shame for the better part of five years now? The guy should be sent packing, not promoted to run the current flagship park in the US arsenal.

From Rob Pastor on January 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM
That's the movement rumor that I brought up on another TPI discussion thread last week. Sounds like fairly good news. Meg's job has been partly changed per the "Peter Principle" after her meeting a few weeks ago with the CEO. Kalogridis brings a more hands on approach to the job. He actually even walks through the parks to see what's up. Kalogridis had a few blemishes earlier in his career according to some of the other sites, but he seems to have finally settled in to being a competent manager. The improvements he inherited and carried through at the Disney Resort have really turned that property around. Hopefully he gets the budget to do the same at WDW. A positive move for sure.
From Anon Mouse on January 9, 2013 at 1:38 PM
Any management change to fix WDW is a good sign. However, bringing a WDW guy to Disneyland seems like a step back. I certainly hope Disneyland Resort won't be declining, but we are beyond that. Perhaps the atmosphere has changed pernamently with Kalogridis' promotion. Since I don't know how the corporation functions, I hope the change works to the benefit of both parks.
From N B on January 9, 2013 at 1:52 PM
James,

From what I have read, the foundation for the Yeti is cracked. They would have to completely dismantle the animatronic monster, re-pour the foundation and put it all back together.

Conservative estimates put the fix at a year to 18 months and millions of dollars. Yeti will never move again....

From Tim Odom on January 9, 2013 at 2:04 PM
I'm with Mr. Rao, Mr. Colglazier ran what could be seen as the worst Disney park, and now he is moving to Disneyland? That does not seem like a great idea to me, but maybe we don't know the full story there. I mean, they could be moving him out of there due to the upcoming Avatar-land stuff, and they don't want him to mess that up. Who knows...

Granted, I don't know when he started at DAK, nor do I know any of the circumstances he was presented. Still, I think there is a story on why a guy who ran DAK is now going to run Disneyland.

From Dominick D on January 9, 2013 at 2:46 PM
Thank God. Meg was ruining the parks.
From James Rao on January 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM
N B, yep, that is what I have read as well. But a few million bucks never stopped Disney! Remember they recently spent $22M on a Dumbo-style spinner at Tokyo DisneySea!

The main challenge will be for DAK to finally get another E-Ticket to take the pressure off of Everest. Once that E-Ticket is built (Pandora) then Everest can go under the knife for a WAYYYYYYYYYY overdue refurb and the Yeti will move again - maybe not the same way he moved before (which was beyond awesome, or "be-awesome"), but his big, beefy arm will swing again, of that you can be sure!

From TH Creative on January 9, 2013 at 4:04 PM
Hoping someday Joe Schott returns back to the Magic Kingdom!
From TH Creative on January 9, 2013 at 4:00 PM
And congrats to Ms. Crofton!
From Sylvain Comeau on January 9, 2013 at 6:29 PM
AK is a good park, with a lot to offer. It's far from the "worst Disney park."

As for the Yeti, I would love to see the beast back in A mode, but it would clearly be an enormous undertaking. Hopefully, Imagineering will come up with a compromise solution.

From TH Creative on January 9, 2013 at 6:44 PM
Here's a prediction: The Yeti will be working again before October 1, 2021.
From Justin Knight on January 9, 2013 at 7:19 PM
This can only mean one thing. Pixar Place is gonna expand. Cant wait for that!
From Todd Donahue on January 9, 2013 at 9:01 PM
I hear the pandora/avatar ride is going to be a soaring type ride, nothing says excitement e ticket ride then that. Soaring is a decent family ride bit no e ticket. If that was what the old head was bringing in then I'd say good riddens and I'm sorry for your eventual downturn in the Disneyland department in all phases if he's boss. AK being a good park is and was a joke. Maybe a half a day you could spend there. It was not a zoo and has too few top attractions. Even the behind the scenes at AK was horrible. My family went on it in 2010 and we saw where they made the food and animal hospital and got a ride on Kilimanjaro for a lot of money. What a rip. Be gone you overzealous fool and let someone in that actually knows and cares about the park. Maybe for starters they widen the paths for a change. I'm rambling on but this is good for WDW bad for DL.
From 63.95.36.13 on January 10, 2013 at 1:02 PM
So much negative comments about AK Todd, unjust, you obviously miss the point of the park and it still gets more visitors then the god awful USF and IOA.
From 99.118.245.158 on January 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM
I'm hoping that this means that there will be a focus on reviving Epcot to its former glory as well as bringing Cars Land to The Studios. Still wishing they'd scrap the Avitar land.
From 68.216.113.74 on January 12, 2013 at 9:16 AM
If Mr. K brings just half of the effort he made at Disney West to WDW it'll be a major improvement over the stagnant reign of Meg Crofton. I am absolutely excited by this move.

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