Disney Parks Management Shake Up Shakes Up Fans

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What began quietly with a job swap between Hollywood Studios VP Rilous Carter and Epcot VP Dan Cockerell has now exploded into a full Disney Parks management shake-up. In the days following, Walt Disney Parks and Resort president Al Weiss “retired” after 39 years with the company, prompting Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs to announce that the position would not be filled. Now, the plans become clear…

Walt Disney World president Meg Crofton now finds herself as president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France. No longer is she only president over Disney World, but now over the Disneyland Resort & Disneyland Resort Paris as well. Crofton has been president of Walt Disney World since 2006 and has been with the company for over 30 years.

Karl Holz, president, New Vacation Operations and Disney Cruise Line, will take on a new leading role for Disney Vacation Club, in addition to maintaining roles at Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Aulani.

What does this change mean for the Disney Parks and Resorts during this time of rapid expansion? Probably good things. Disneyland Resort & Disneyland Resort Paris have not been sound in theme park operations. Basic crowd for control for parades & shows at Disneyland are a nightmare, the way shops and restaurants are operated are appalling, and on too many occasions I have seen hourly cast members handle guests in the most un-Disney ways. Upkeep of the parks is no better in California either, I have seen my share of ride breakdowns and missing/non-working effects on the west coast. As for Disneyland Paris, the recent boost in funds for park upkeep are no doubt coming from management shake-ups there.

Some fans are heralding this as the beginning of another dark age for the Parks and Resorts, which is probably a little overdramatic. Under this management, Florida and California are seeing the biggest construction projects in their history and Disneyland Paris is slowly turning the corner on two decades of under performance. Without a doubt, the future of the Parks and Resorts will be announced at the D23 Expo, projects that will take us beyond Cars Land and the Fantasyland Expansion. I think only at that point can we judge if the direction is for better or for worse.

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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Philip Kippel
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Philip Kippel

Let's hope that this turns out to be a good thing and not a bad thing. That way, maybe it can show Ms. Crofton in a better light to the pessimists.

Now, if only the rumors about Disney selling off the parks can be put to rest…

David Smith
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David Smith

I don't get that rumor at all.  It makes 0 sense from a business standpoint, a PR standpoint, and an investment standpoint.  If Disney is planning on selling off the parks to other groups, why bother making the huge investments we are seeing that won't see a payback for 10 years (and never if they sell them)?

Anonymous
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Anonymous

That was considered one time back in 1985, but now the parks is too closely tied to the franchise movies that Iger wants the studios to produce more of that will have strong connections with the parks.  So, to sell off the parks would not make any business sense at all and not provide any benefit to the company now or in the future.  The only time a company sheds a division in a sell off is when that business unit is no longer delivering a good rate of return on the investments or doesn't help to support one or… Read more »

alphac2005
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alphac2005

With the Crofton matter, you note: "Under this management, Florida and California are seeing the biggest construction projects in their history" 

That's a inaccurate, to say the least. Besides the redo of DCA, the current management team of the past several years has overseen some of the least amount of construction in the history of Disneyland and WDW. 

David Smith
Guest
David Smith

Besides the Fantasyland expansion, there's almost no construction going on in Magic Kingdom.  Besides Star Tours 2 and Toy Story Mania, there haven't been many updates at Studios.

I'll be the first to admit that the current management team has done a poor job with the resorts, and have had some missteps with maintenance, but I don't think it's fair to say they haven't made investments in the parks.

Philip Kippel
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Philip Kippel

I don't think their jobs have been all that poor, though.

Tom Corless
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Tom Corless

Over the last two years, work walls have been up on Main Street U.S.A., the Town Square Theater was constructed, the Tomorrowland Terrace was refurbished, signage & lighting throughout all of Tomorrowland was replaced, Space Mountain experienced a major refurbishment, the entire Winnie the Pooh facade was remodeled, the Fantasyland Expansion began, every facade in Fantasyland was refurbished, a wider path between Fantasyland and Liberty Square is being built, the Hall of Presidents had a major big budget overhaul, the Haunted Mansion was refurbished yet again, all of the Frontierland facades are now being repaired, Splash Mountain has had two… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

True these are good things for the MK, but these are cosmetic and in many cases a reaction to really deteriorated structure or facility.  However, for these handful of positive examples there are so many other growing examples of upkeep concerns and issues from animated figures badly needing attention to effects and technical support requiring work to either bring show elements back to their original intended operation or upgrade to new technology of today's standards.  See the problem with the mentality at WDW when it comes to upkeep is, and I'm not making this up, the leadership at WDW believes… Read more »

alphac2005
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alphac2005

"See the problem with the mentality at WDW when it comes to upkeep is, and I'm not making this up, the leadership at WDW believes that people only come once every two to four years so there isn't a need to address everything now." What you're saying makes total sense and is actually quite obvious when you look at the Florida property. Maintenance and cosmetic issues were all over the place and to me, it's all very clear. Management sees that turning to generic Disney branded merchandise, the elimination of countless little touches, which had always been deemed the "Disney… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

You obviously live under a rock!  Your assessment of how things are going out in California couldn't be any further from the truth.  All of those things you are mentioning are what is being experienced on a daily basis at WDW, NOT DLR.  Pull your head out long enough to see the truth and then you can come back and correct your idiotic statements in this silly update about one of the worst decisions that Tom Staggs made in elevating this horrible leader from WDW over DLR and DLP.

Tom Corless
Guest
Tom Corless

As someone who has spent enough time on both coasts, my assessment is well thought out. Your responses with words like "idiotic" and the type of over dramatic garbage you try to spread are everything wrong with this fan community. You are entitled to your opinion like anyone else, but like most people making this argument, you are attacking people who you are probably not even sure what role they play in the day-to-day operations of the parks. I think you need to better examine the quality of WDW right now and the daily operations carried out at Disneyland.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I stand by my comments.  And likewise you don't know the role some who post here play in the day to day operations of the parks either.  It isn't me that has posted on various fan sites the numerous examples of the poor upkeep at WDW.  In addition, on the numerous inspections I've executed at WDW I am so disappointed on the growing list of things that are in need of repair.  I have never seen the overall property this bad in at least a decade or longer.  And apart from the college students who are part of the college… Read more »

Philip Kippel
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Philip Kippel

I hope that the Admins of this site will reply to Disneyphile soon to sooth his nerves.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Lol, thanks Philip for your concerns.  I'm actually quite soothed right now.  Just refuting statements that are not all that accurate nor are in line with the majority of the thinking out there as found on numerous fan sites.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I was only providing a rebuttal.

Philip Kippel
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Philip Kippel

Tom Corless, please come back and respond to Disneyphile's spam comments soon. :'(