disney parks and resorts

Bob Chapek moves from Disney Stores to Disney Parks Chair

bob_chapek_twdc-chair-disney-parks-disWhen Tom Staggs was announced as Chief Operating Officer, it was mentioned he’d retain control of the Disney Parks division until a successor could be found. I think everyone had a 6 to 12 month timeline on that, but Disney can move fast when it wants to.

Effective today Bob Chapek has been named Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Chapek is a 22-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company, having served since 2011 as President of Disney Consumer Products, driving a technology-led transformation of the Company’s consumer products, retail and publishing operations. Prior to that he managed Disney’s Home Video/DVD division.

If this move seems familiar it’s because Disney already tried this once with moving Paul Pressler from President of the Disney Stores to Disneyland (and then Disney Parks). The implication that the parks are little more than giant Disney stores is clear. Paul and his successor Cynthia Harriss were never quite able to shake themselves of the rules of retail and took their eyes off the real important things at the theme parks. I have a few suggestions for Bob on how to avoid that fate at the end of this article.

It’s true that this could be a move to expand Bob’s horizons and groom him for additional responsibility within the company. The good news is that merchandise mix at the parks is one thing the parks are generally doing well (the Big Hero 6 mix was a failure, alas). I don’t know much about Bob, this could a perfect fit for him, and I hope it is, but history hasn’t been kind on similar moves.

“Under Bob’s leadership, Consumer Products has seen great success, focusing on brands and a franchise-driven strategy while launching new products and retail experiences that combine technological innovation and creativity,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said. “He is an experienced and versatile executive well-suited to lead Parks and Resorts into the future.”Read More »Bob Chapek moves from Disney Stores to Disney Parks Chair

Disney Announces “Heroes Work Here” Veteran Jobs Program

Touting the motto “Heroes Work Here. Employ excellence. Hire veterans” President and Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Iger announced a new company-wide initiative to hire, train and support returning veterans yesterday at The Walt Disney Company’s (NYSE: DIS) Annual Shareholder meeting in Kansas City. The Heroes Work Here program continues Disney’s long history of respect and appreciation for the U.S. Armed Forces by expanding the company’s commitment to recognize and honor the sacrifice and service of these men and women.

As part of the initiative, Disney will provide at least 1,000 jobs and career opportunities for returning U.S. veterans over the next three years, support military families and veterans during their transition into civilian life, and launch a national public awareness campaign to encourage all employers across the U.S. to hire veterans.

In addition to providing career opportunities for veterans, Disney will also invest in select non-profit organizations that provide training and other support services. Through the Disney VoluntEARS program, employees will also engage in service projects with veterans’ organizations in communities around the country. The public awareness campaign, featuring veterans currently employed in various businesses across The Walt Disney Company, will highlight their value, encourage companies to hire these highly skilled men and women, and direct them to the Joining Forces initiative for more information.

Mr. Iger debuted the first spot at the conference, which can be viewed below the jump:

Read More »Disney Announces “Heroes Work Here” Veteran Jobs Program

Class Action Lawsuit Certified Against Disney for ADA Violations Against the Blind

This lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company for allegedly failing to meet the minimum standards set forth by the American Disabilities Act required to accommodate blind visitors to its parks and websites has been working its way through the courts for a long time. However, the a Federal Judge has just certified a class action lawsuit against Disney clearing the way for the company to potentially face a lot more damages.

The chief complaints, mostly against the Parks & Resorts division are:

1) Disney does not provide schedules, menus and maps in formats which are accessible to blind persons, such as in Braille, large print, or electronic form;
2) Disney does not accommodate the needs of guide dogs;
3) Disney does not accommodate the needs of blind persons during live parades and shows;
4) Disney does not permit any discounted admission for sighted companions who must accompany and support blind persons in the theme parks; and
5) Disney’s websites do not accommodate blind persons who use screen reader programs to access information.

I’m not a lawyer, thus this is just my layman’s observation, so take it with a large grain of salt. I think Disney stands heads and shoulders above almost every other theme park in the USA. However, are they perfect when it comes to ADA compliance? No. As far as point #1, I think Disney can easily refute that (at least in Orlando) as they provide a great mobile tool that provides almost all of that (and there are definitely braille maps in the parks). For #2, while I’ve not had a guide dog myself, Disney has no issues at all with guide dogs in their parks, I see them all the time. There might be some safety reasons while a dog cannot accompany a rider on certain rides, but you have to put safety first. Plus certain rides will be grandfathered in where changes would change the nature of the attraction. As to #3, see #1. With regards to #4, if this is something the law requires, I would be surprised if Disney does not provide it. #5, this appears to be most valid complaint. But then again, it’s a complaint that’s valid against most every website. Targeting Disney is a high visibility move for the cause. I know Disney is rolling out an updated website for Disney.com, so perhaps that will be included then. So, yes, Disney does have room for improvement, but does it rise to the level of a lawsuit? I guess a Federal Judge thinks so.

The full text of the press release is below the jump:

Read More »Class Action Lawsuit Certified Against Disney for ADA Violations Against the Blind

Promotions Shake Up Disney Parks & Resorts under Tom Staggs

In a long internal memo today, Tom Staggs made official the organizational shakeup everyone knew was coming after Staggs took over the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division. It’s nothing earth shattering, but it does flatten some of the levels of hierarchy that were said to have frustrated Staggs since he took over.

In short, current WDW president Meg Crofton expands to oversee all the domestic parks and the two parks in France. Karl Holtz, who a few years ago was rumored to be leaving Disney, is instead adding DVC to his DCL and Adventures by Disney responsibilities. Leslie Ferraro becomes executive vice president, Global Marketing and Sales combining those two closely related departments and Erin Wallace, executive vice president, Operations Integration also adds revenue management to her desk. The move also creates a new executive council under Staggs.

While Staggs’ reorganization did not cut any of the deadwood certain segments of Disney fans wanted to see go, I believe the general movement here is a good one. It will allow for efficiencies where they need to exist and independence, with oversight, as required for the parks. Combining marketing and sales is a no-duh in my book, they are both measured by the same final metrics (butts in beds and asses through the gates), so unifying them is good. The only move that looks questionable to me is giving the extra power of revenue management to operations. However, they are the yin and the yang of theme park operations. Having one person keep a close eye via her myriad of spreadsheets and minions (and I mean that in the nicest possible way), could be very positive.

Let’s keep a watch on this for the next 3-year planning cycle and see if there really is any improvement. Meanwhile, the pressure is kicked up a notch for these people to get things done or they too could be reorganized right out of a job.

The full text of Tom Staggs’ announcement is below the jump:

Read More »Promotions Shake Up Disney Parks & Resorts under Tom Staggs

Disney Parks launches it’s own blog!

Today marks the next step for the Walt Disney Company’s parks and resorts division. They’re finally launching a blog. It’s about time, I’ve been advocating for this for years. Disney employs the best and brightest in their fields and now you’ll be able to hear… Read More »Disney Parks launches it’s own blog!

Best. Disney. Hotel. Ever.

Thanks to Blue Sky Disney for pointing out this photo album of the newest Disney Hotel in the world. It’s the Toyko Disneyland Hotel and it opens on Tuesday. It’s an absolutely beautiful hotel full of the sort of amazing detail that will make your… Read More »Best. Disney. Hotel. Ever.