Round-up: Management changes at Disney, Merlin and Six Flags

June 15, 2023, 5:59 PM · Time for another news round-up, with this week's focus on personnel changes around the theme park industry.

Let's start at Disney, where Kevin Lansberry, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products will take over as Interim Chief Financial Officer for The Walt Disney Company, starting July 1. Lansberry replaces Christine McCarthy, who is stepping down and taking a family medical leave of absence.

"Christine McCarthy is one of the most admired financial executives in America, and her impact on The Walt Disney Company during 23 years of dedicated service cannot be overstated," Disney CEO Bob Iger said. "Christine has served as a key strategic anchor during a period of great transformation, and she and I have discussed her desire to ensure an orderly and successful CFO succession in advance of the company’s transition to its next chief executive officer. She is stepping down from her CFO role as she takes family medical leave, but has graciously offered to move into an advisory position to assist her successor in assuming the duties she has so expertly handled these many years."

McCarthy joined Disney in 2000 as Treasurer and became Chief Financial Officer in 2015. Lansberry took on his current role in 2017.

McCarthy, Lansberry, Venning, and Bacica
McCarthy, Lansberry, Venning, and Bacica

In other news, Merlin Entertainments has appointed Sarah Venning as its new Chief Digital and Data Officer. As such, she will be tasked with "bringing together the key areas in Merlin’s technology, data, and digital capabilities to build a world-class digital strategy and deliver a seamless digital experience for guests and over 30,000 Merlin team members," according to Merlin's press release.

"Merlin is a company defined by its people, culture and dedication to innovation and I am excited to help drive the next phase of growth," Venning said. "Merlin's extraordinary global locations will become ever more social, connected, and immersive through the power of digital and data. With the whole team, we look forward to designing an incredible next-generation experience for our guests."

Venning comes to Merlin from Pret A Manger, where she was Global Digital Officer.

Six Flags has named Brian Bacica as the new Park President for Six Flags Great Adventure, including Hurricane Harbor New Jersey and Six Flags Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure.

Bacica comes to Six Flags as Regional Vice President at TriMark USA, continuing a career that has included stops at Universal, where he worked as a Senior Vice President, Revenue Operations, Parks Food and Beverage in Orlando and Senior Vice President, Food, Retail and Events and General Manager, Universal CityWalk in Hollywood. He also has worked as Operations Manager - Food and Beverage at the Disneyland Resort.

"I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work for the world’s largest regional theme park company at one of its most unique properties," Bacica said. "Six Flags Great Adventure is a one-of-a-kind destination including one of the largest drive-through safaris outside of Africa, the region’s best water park, and world-class coasters. I look forward to working with the team to continue driving park initiatives while enhancing the guest experience for years to come."

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Replies (7)

June 15, 2023 at 6:24 PM

Wasn’t McCarthy a favorite to take over as CEO once Iger ends his latest tenure?

June 15, 2023 at 6:49 PM

I don’t know if she was a favorite, but her name had been mentioned. She was instrumental in getting Chapek sacked, BTW. The family leave acknowledgement concerns me, however. I hope all is okay.

June 15, 2023 at 7:13 PM

She will forever be legendary for triggering all the Disney fans for making a joke about their weight.

June 15, 2023 at 8:00 PM

In my defense, I've been doing a lot of sit-ups.

Ms. McCarthy's exit leaves Alan Bergman (56) and the aforementioned Mr. Lansberry (approx.59) as potential candidates.

June 16, 2023 at 12:56 PM

TH, you were supposed to be hyping me for that job! (LOL) I've got the required first name, after all.

June 17, 2023 at 7:24 AM

Yeah, the name "Robert" has been kind of hit and miss and hit (again) and then start to miss a bit. So ...

June 18, 2023 at 8:34 AM

No offense, Robert, but if we're trying to keep the "Bob" dynasty going, I'd like to see Bob the Minion in charge.

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