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george kalogridis

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Monday was a big day in Central Florida when representatives of 102 local community focused groups took center stage at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and Walt Disney World awarded more than $4.5 million in Disney Grants. These gifts will enable the organizations to play an even stronger supporting role for more than 250,000 Central Florida children and their families.

Through the support provided by Disney’s signature giving program, the grants will help local organizations build children’s character, encourage creativity and promote economic development throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties. This year’s grant recipients offer an array of programs, including learning and reading camps, arts enrichment and furniture and clothes for families in need.

“Disney Grant recipients work tirelessly to build a better future for Central Florida and share Disney’s values of investing in children and families,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World. “For more than 43 years, we’ve joined with other local organizations to strengthen our community because we believe we’re better together.”

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Tonight Spaceship Earth transformed into “Monsters University” Star Mike Wazowski to help announce 24 hour events that will include special parties for the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, and Disney California Adventure. Sully put in a brief ‘scary’ appearance too.

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“This summer, Disney Parks are bursting with a monstrous lineup of new thrills, shows and happenings,” said Kalogridis. “Guests can start Memorial Day Weekend with a 24-hour-marathon of memory-making as three Parks stay open all day and all night to celebrate the bi-coastal kick-off of a Monstrous Summer at Disney Parks.”

Here’s a video featuring just Mike Wazowski:

[Updated] and here’s the whole announcement:

More details from the press release below the jump:

Note: Don’t have much time other than to get this press release up, but in general I think this will be seen as a good for both fans of the parks and cast members. That does not mean everything will be smooth sailing and ponies will come with every Disney vacation, but I like the idea of this leadership change.

Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs today announced key leadership changes across one of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences to better position the organization for growth. Effective Feb. 1, Meg Crofton will fully assume her global role as president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France – a position she has held since July 2011 – while concurrently serving as president of Walt Disney World. With Meg’s transition complete, George A. Kalogridis is named president of the Walt Disney World Resort, and Michael Colglazier is named president of the Disneyland Resort. Both Kalogridis and Colglazier’s roles are also effective Feb. 1.

“With all that we currently have in flight across our resort destinations in the U.S. and France, the time is right to move forward with this leadership transition,” said Staggs. “This group of Disney veterans has the knowledge and expertise needed to continue delivering on our legacy of creating unforgettable experiences that our guests have come to know and expect. I would like to thank Meg for her tireless devotion and the extraordinary contributions serving in both positions, and wish George and Michael the best of luck in their new roles. They both bring a wealth of operational expertise, leadership and passion to these roles, which will contribute to the success of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.”

With the appointment of a Walt Disney World president, Crofton will focus all of her attention to providing strategic oversight of the broader initiatives that impact Disney destinations in the U.S. and France.

Kalogridis brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to his new role at Walt Disney World, including more than 40 years of experience at Disney parks in a number of positions around the world. Most recently as president of the Disneyland Resort, he oversaw one of the most extensive expansion projects in the Resort’s history — including the immensely successful transformation of Disney California Adventure. Throughout his career, Kalogridis also has proven himself to be a leader in the travel and leisure industry, as well as a respected partner in the community.