Jim Cora, Disney Legend Who Helped Found Tokyo Disneyland, DisneySea, and Disneyland Paris, Passes Away at 83

According to the OC Register, Disney Legend Jim Cora passed away on Sunday, March 21st a following a brief hospitalization.

Cora began his Disneyland career working part-time as an Attractions Host Cast Member cleaning 3-D glasses for the Mickey Mouse Club Theater. After 43 years with the company, Cora retired as the chairman of Disney International.


Cora thanks Walt Disney himself for his quick rise through the ranks of the company. He recounts an incredible story where Walt Disney sent teenage Cora to the Disneyland Administration building to find Van Arsdale France. Cora was instructed to “Tell him Walt sent you. I think he may have something for you.” Van Arsdale France founded Disney University.

Jim Cora went on to join the opening team of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and then to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World where he was responsible for implementing the “Disney Way of Leadership” program. Cora then helped redesign the “area concept” of the Disneyland Park, leading him to be responsible for Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

In 1979, Jim Cora became the managing director of Operations for the Tokyo Disneyland Project. He held responsibility for all of the operational planning, management, and training for the park. Before the park opened, he was promoted to Vice President of Walt Disney Productions Japan, Ltd to help oversee the Oriental Land Company and to upheld Disney’s operational standards.

After his time in Japan, Cora moved back home to California and assumed the role of Vice President of Disneyland International in 1983. Shortly thereafter, Cora took on the project of negotiating agreements and master planning for the Disneyland Paris project. He was promoted to Vice President and COO for the Euro Disney Corporation. In 1995, Jim was promoted to President of Disneyland International where he oversaw the development of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. His final focus was to develop and maintain strategies that would allow Tokyo Disney Resort to succeed and grow. He retired from this position in 2001.

Josh D’Amaro, the current Disney Parks Chairman, claims that Jim Cora was one of the few remaining connections to Walt Disney. D’Amaro said in a statement,

“His dedication to bringing Disney magic to people around the world was only matched by the passion he exuded throughout his career and for the many years that followed. I always loved hearing Jim’s thoughts about our business. He was one of our last connections to Walt Disney and he will be missed dearly.”

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  1. I worked under Jim at WDI in the late 90’s. He was such an inspirational and visionary leader. His dedication and passion for Disney shone through daily. He was truly a Disney Legend!

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