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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.

Lincoln - Window

When I heard that Dreamworks movies would be distributed by the Walt Disney Studios, I immediately thought of how terrific it would be if Disney was able to distribute “Lincoln,” the movie Spielberg had been working on since 2001. If you’ve read even the shortest biography of Walt Disney you know that he admired Lincoln as our nation’s finest president. When Walt chose the first human being to be represented by an audio-animatronic, it was Lincoln who would once again wow the masses with his oratory. He has his own attraction at Disneyland and is featured in Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.

Lincoln has not be neglected by films either. Among the many times he’s appeared in the theaters, Henry Fonda played the 16th president in “Young Mr. Lincoln” in a film by John Ford and Raymond Massey played him twice, once in “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” and once in “How the West was Won.” Hal Holbrook, one of my favorite actors, won an emmy for his 1976 portrayal of Lincoln in an acclaimed TV special. (Holbrook reprised the role in the mid 80’s TV mini-series “North & South”).

Holbrook also has a role in Spielberg’s Lincoln, but it’s not the President. That role is filled impressively by Daniel Day-Lewis who took over from Liam Neeson who declared himself too old. Day-Lewis reportedly took a year to become Lincoln as part of his preparation for the role and would periodically text his co-actors in the voice of Lincoln as they prepared for the film. This all pays off when Day-Lewis disappears from the screen and you are watching Honest Abe work his way through these tumultuous moments in history. Day-Lewis’s ability to become the person he is portraying will no doubt earn him another academy award nomination and likely a third gold statue when all the votes are in.