Disneyland President Ed Grier Retires

According to the OC Register’s Around Disney blog:

Disneyland Resort President Ed Grier plans to retire effective Friday after three years of leading a major theme-park expansion and weathering a stormy debate over housing near theme parks.

Grier today announced he would leave his job overseeing Orange County’s largest private employer with about 20,000 workers at two theme parks, three hotels and a retail-entertainment complex. A replacement has yet to be named, said Lisa Haines, vice president of Disneyland Resort communications.

“I have been humbled and honored during the past three years as I’ve watched your hard work create smiles and laughter, and delight our Guests. The power of Disney magic never ceases to amaze me, and your passion will always be a source of inspiration,” Grier wrote in a memo to employees.

He declined interview requests today (To learn more abut Grier, click here for a short bio).

The Disneyland Resort job concludes a 28-career with the company, where he started as a senior auditor at Walt Disney World and ended up working in nearly every Disney theme park.

Grier, 54, stated that he has been considering the move for about a year in the memo. Haines said Grier has been discussing the possibility over the last few months with his superiors.

“One defining moment came when my wife and I moved our youngest son into his dorm at Stanford this fall. It was an opportunity to reflect on the past and consider the next chapter of our own lives,” said Grier, who has three sons. “I have had a long and rewarding career with the Walt Disney Company, and am excited to explore what’s next.”

Grier plans to help his son, Michael, who is in film school at Chapman University, with a post-production company that he recently started in Orange.

During Grier’s tenure, the resort began a $1-billion expansion of Disney’s California Adventure and constructed the company’s first West Coast timeshare units at the Grand Californian Hotel, which opened last month. Grier also helped lead Disney’s fight against the Anaheim City Council, which was considering a major housing development near Disney property. The developer eventually backed out of the proposal.

Grier’s retirement comes at a time when Disneyland Resort’s theme parks have experienced a 10-percent hike in attendance in the most recent quarter compared to the prior year, faring better than other Disney parks. However, revenue at all parks has dropped, according to the company’s most-recent financial report.

Disneyland had about 14.7 million visitors last year — the second-highest at a theme park in the world, according to the Themed Entertainment Association.

Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, said he was surprised Grier is leaving, but that Grier made a major impact with the expansion efforts.

“Ed is a crucial guy to the city of Anaheim and the whole economic fabric,” Ahlers said. “Those are big projects with lots of money and lots of ramifications to the marketplace. He clearly was in a powerful position.”

Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle said Grier cooperated with the city on major issues, including transportation, housing and venue expansions, during his tenure.

“There have been a lot of critical points that we worked directly with Ed on. And he has been a very good partner in that whole process,” Pringle said.

Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ worldwide operations, lauded Grier for his efforts both at the park and in the community.

“Ed’s leadership style has facilitated a culture of collaboration that has earned him the respect of the community and the Cast,” Weiss stated in a memo to employees.

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