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meg crofton

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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.

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: