When Bob Chapek was elevated to the Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company it left a void a top the recently consolidated Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products (DPEP) division, one of the biggest earners for the Mouse House at the time. Then the global health emergency began to look pretty serious and any plan for succession in the DPEP division was put on frozen.
It’s now been 3 months and spring is in the air at DPEP. Today, Chapek announced new leadership for the division, elevating Josh D’Amaro, who only recently came to Walt Disney World from Disneyland, to lead the division. I hope he didn’t sell that house out in California.
I mean leading the Disney Parks division is a dream come true for anyone, but right now it’s going to require some careful stewardship to guide it back to profitability and create new models of themed entertainment for a future where cast member and guest health have to take priority over large crowds.
The move opens room for Jeff Vahle, who formerly lead the Disney Cruise Lines and other Disney Signature Experiences to become Walt Disney World President. The Disneyland President moved to take over the suddenly open spot atop the Direct-to-Consumer division that runs Disney+ leaving room for Ken Potrock to take over that position.
I’m pretty happy for Ken who really worked his way through a number of unheralded positions over the last 25 years, but gave it his all in each of them. He’ll be good for Disneyland (they might even get a bowling alley).
Also moving up are:
- Kareem Daniel, formerly President, Walt Disney Imagineering Operations/Product Creation/Publishing/Games, has been named President, Consumer Products, Games and Publishing.
- Thomas Mazloum, who was Senior Vice President of Resort and Transportation Operations at Walt Disney World Resort, becomes President, Disney Signature Experiences.
“I’m incredibly proud of the new leadership team at Parks, beginning with the segment’s Chairman, longtime Disney veteran Josh D’Amaro, and his newly announced team of Jeff Vahle, Ken Potrock, Kareem Daniel and Thomas Mazloum,” said Mr. Chapek. “These talented executives played pivotal roles while leading our exceptional cast members during the largest period of growth in the segment’s history, which included the expansion of our parks and resorts around the world, the addition of new attractions including two highly acclaimed Star Wars-themed lands, and a shift to more personalized experiences for guests. And I am confident that as they assume even greater responsibility and pursue new opportunities, these proven leaders will have an even bigger impact on the future of our company.”
In his new role, Mr. D’Amaro will oversee Disney’s iconic travel and leisure businesses, which include six theme park-resort destinations in the United States, Europe and Asia; a top-rated cruise line; a popular vacation ownership program; and an award-winning guided family adventure business; and Disney’s global consumer products operations, which include the world’s leading licensing business across toys, apparel, home goods, digital games and apps; the world’s largest children’s print publisher; Disney store locations around the world; and the shopDisney e-commerce platform.
“I want to thank Bob for giving me this opportunity, and I look forward to following his record of driving innovation, value and growth at Parks,” Mr. D’Amaro said. “I am honored to be able to lead this newly announced team of exceptional senior leaders as we assume our new roles and continue to deliver unforgettable experiences for our guests. Even during this challenging time, the enthusiasm of our dedicated cast members for what we do is unwavering, and my goal is to bring them back to work as soon as possible so they can continue to create that magic.”
Before being named President of Walt Disney World Resort in 2019, Mr. D’Amaro was President of the Disneyland Resort. Mr. D’Amaro joined Disney in 1998 at the Disneyland Resort and held a number of leadership positions across the company. He served as Senior Vice President of Commercial Strategy for Walt Disney World Resort and also led the sites’ Resorts & Transportation Operations. He served as Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park as it underwent the largest expansion in its history. His other roles included Adventures by Disney; Sales and Travel Operations at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort; Finance for the Global Licensing division of Disney Consumer Products; and Business Planning and Strategy.
We’re realistic about what the future holds for all of the above leaders, but hopeful that they will be able to make the changes required to preserve the magic for future generations. Congratulations Josh and everyone else who received a new post!