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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
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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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