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Disney names first openly gay man as president of Walt Disney World

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Walt Disney Company has named George Kalogridis as president of Walt Disney World, becoming the theme park’s first openly gay president.

Kalogridis, 59, is a 41-year Disney veteran and one of that park’s first employees, hired at age 17 two months ahead of the theme park’s opening in October of 1971.

George Kalogridis

Kalogridis takes over the company’s flagship theme park located in Central Florida after serving at the company’s original Disneyland Resort, park in Anaheim, California, as president since 2009.

He has previously served as the CEO for the Disney Resort in Paris, as vice president of Travel Operations at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and vice president of Epcot.

Kalogridis and his partner, Andy Hardy, a finance manager for the company’s Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Global Entertainment division, have been together for 12 years.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Kalogridis takes over at an important time for Disney World, where attendance has been soft in recent quarters. The giant resort has just opened the first phases of a $425 million Fantasyland expansion, its first major renovation of the Magic Kingdom since Kalogridis was busing tables in Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

“The first thing I see is one big word: humility. This is a very, very big place, and having been able to see it from Day 1 and to see it now — truly, you have to respect just how incredible this project is,” Kalogridis said in an interview.

Kalogridis, a park-operations expert, will preside over a business that generates more than $6 billion in annual revenue and employs nearly 67,000 people.

Walt Disney World is a 40-square-mile vacation metropolis that includes four theme parks, two water parks, 24,000 hotel rooms, 3,000 time-share suites, a 120-acre retail complex and a 230-acre sports campus.

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25 more reader comments:

  1. <3
    good…

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:32pm
  2. I love Disney World!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:32pm
  3. YAY…congrats!! <3

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:33pm
  4. Yay :)

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:33pm
  5. :) YEAH!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:36pm
  6. WTG Disney!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:37pm
  7. Yea!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:38pm
  8. I wonder if it will soon become nonnews when LGBT people are placed in high positions.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:39pm
  9. Glad to hear :) – people need to start accepting everyone equally.. which will take forever. but this is great news

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:44pm
  10. It’s important that these stories get reported, because it sends the message to LGBT youth that they can be anything they want to be — it does get better!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:46pm
  11. AMAZING!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 3:07pm
  12. Not surprising from a company that’s 80% gay, still wonderful news!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 3:14pm
  13. i agree with Randy , it is VERY important for these types of stories be reported.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 3:29pm
  14. When of the gayest companies in the world! And, breeders don’t even realize it! Ha ha!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 3:43pm
  15. Makes sense~

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 3:45pm
  16. Oh no everyone avoid it because now you’ll have to worry about your sons getting molested! (COMPLETE SARCASM IS MEANT BY THAT)

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:03pm
  17. Fantastic.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:04pm
  18. It’s about time

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:17pm
  19. The very first openly gay man? He doesn’t look that old

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:23pm
  20. awesome

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 5:46pm
  21. @ David O’Garr – hahahaa truly !

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 7:33pm
  22. So cliche

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 8:14pm
  23. yay for gay^-^

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 9:05pm
  24. Disney here I come!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 9:16pm
  25. About time they give credit where it’s due! :)

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 9:18pm