Cockerell and Carter to switch VP roles at EPCOT and DHS

Some interesting news (via @Figgy999 on Twitter) coming from Walt Disney World’s theme park management today. Rilous Carter, the current VP at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be moving to the same position in EPCOT and Dan Cockerell, the current VP at EPCOT will be moving to the same position at DHS.

I’m not sure what inspired this shake-up, but if it’s true, I have a few ideas about what it might mean.

Rilous took over as VP at Disney’s Hollywood Studios shortly after it changed its name from Disney MGM-Studios. He effectively managed that transition. Rilous was previously the general manager for food and beverage at EPCOT. As it turns out that is one area where EPCOT has made some great strides (excellent Food & Wine festivals and two new restaurants), but also has some serious deficiencies. Rilous might be just the guy to make sure EPCOT continues on the right path.

Cockerell started working in the parking lot at EPCOT and later went to help open Disneyland Paris. His father was longtime WDW Operations manager Lee Cockerell. So expectations were high when he took over EPCOT from much loved Jim McPhee. Cockerell’s reign has been generally well received and Cockerell stewarded EPCOT’s two main festivals through economic tough times with minimal damage.

Cockerell is the only park Vice President I’ve spotted regularly walking through the parks, both in his official capacity and as a guest visiting with his family. That sort of attention to the guest experience had distinguished Cockerell as park VP.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios also has a couple of festivals, but I think there’s room for improvement there. It’s also the park most likely to have a massive expansion once the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland is finished. Putting Cockerell in charge of improving the festivals, improving the maintenance of the park, and a possible expansion is a good idea.

While Cockerell wasn’t responsible for removing the giant EPCOT sign from Spaceship Earth. He’s seen the power of restoring a park icon. So there’s hope that the Mickey Hat at DHS will be removed from its current location, that obscures the park’s Chinese Theater icon, to the front of the park, where it was originally intended. (Of course, I might win the lottery too.)

Disney parks has a long history of moving Vice Presidents around, so this move is really no surprise. It provides new experiences for the manager and gives them the chance to shine in a new area when a vertical move may not be available anytime soon.

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6 Responses to Cockerell and Carter to switch VP roles at EPCOT and DHS

  1. Pingback: The Disney Blog

  2. Interesting Announcement. I suspect this has a lot to do with wanting to bring Epcot’s successes over to DHS.

  3. Tommy says:

    Just my oppinion, I doubt that the ears from DHS will ever be taken down. From what I understand, they where actually placed there to cover up the chinese theater because after the contract ended with MGM, Grahms chinese theater was considered a trademark of MGM and therefor could no longer be used as the main park icon. Hence the big ugly thing built right in front of it to cover it up.

  4. Tuckenie says:

    The placement of the hat is just an urban legend. Disney cleared the legality of the Chinese Theater decades ago. The truth is it was meant to be temporary but nobody wants to pay to remove it.

    Cockerell actually met his wife while he was doing a college program with Disney. He understands the Cast Member life better than most executives and still takes the time to put on the costume and shadow cm’s. You never know, you may see him in front of Star Tours in the next couple of weeks. Excellent leader, the Studios are lucky to have him.

  5. george mitchell says:

    Dan Cockerell will be missed at epcot . His appearance in the park all the time is something he created to be among not only his cast members, but also the public. He always found time to stop and talk with the pass holders he saw each day. I PERSONALLY WILL MISS HIS SMILING FACE. Look over your shoulder Dan you just might see me at the studios.

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