One of Walt Disney World’s first employees now has 66,000 cast members calling him “boss.” In August 1971, George Kalogridis scored a job bussing tables at The Walt Disney Company’s new theme park, set to open that October. Now, as of Feb. 1, Kalogridis is Walt Disney World’s fifth president, taking over for Meg Crofton, who will fully assume her role as president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France. According to his official Walt Disney World bio, Kalogridis, 59, has been with the company for 41 years. He comes to his new role in Lake Buena Vista from Disneyland Resort, where he has served as president since 2009. Kalogridis’ job titles also include CEO for Disney Resort Paris, vice president of Travel Operations at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and vice president of Epcot.There are two aspects to this story that I love. Obviously, the fact that the Disney Corporation gave this high-profile job to a a gay man is of interest to me, but I also admire the fact that a bus boy would rise within the ranks to eventually find himself the CEO.
Kalogridis is a sociology graduate from UCF and was born in Winter Haven. According to the Orlando Sentinel, he and his partner, Andy Hardy, have been together for 12 years. The couple plans to build a home in Golden Oak, a subdivision being developed by Disney World on the northeast corner of the resort’s property. Hardy is a finance manager with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts global entertainment, according to the Orange County (CA) Business Journal.
According to his bio, he was active in the community in California, serving on CHOC Children’s Hospital Board of Directors, the Board of Directors of Children’s HealthCare of California, the Out and Equal Board of Directors and in several other high-profile volunteer roles.
Most people will greet this news with a shrug, however you have to wonder what the usual fundamentalist suspects are going to do with this. Back in 1997, the Southern Baptists voted to boycott Disney theme parks over their nondiscrimination policy.
Last June, Southern Baptists gave Disney a year to change its ways. Since then, the church leaders have said Disney has ignored their complaints and even increased its antifamily, progay policies and programming.The boycott was a spectacular failure and the boycott was lifted in 2005, but not without a promise that they would be "keeping its eye on the company." Just last April, the Florida Family Association got itself all worked up over the annual unofficial "Gay Day" held at the resort each June.
How would you feel if you entered the Magic Kingdom anticipating a normal day of fun with your family only to witness thousands of same-sex couples holding hands, hugging, kissing and wearing tee-shirts that promoted their lifestyle?"They went so far as to hire two airplanes to fly over the park with warning banners flapping in the wind, alerting all the good Christian families that the park had been taken over by the queers.
One Gay Day patron’s comments best describes their goal 'We need to be seen in the heart of America's playground.' It appears from the behavior of Gay Day patrons that they were more intent on being seen rather than seeing Disney World.
Just like activists’ attempts to gain access to youthful minds through LGBT characters in video games they also want to impact a captured audience of tens of thousands of children during the first Saturday of Summer Break.
Personally, I hope this latest move exhibiting the corporation's commitment to full-inclusion pushes these people back over the edge. The happiest place on earth would be even more happy without all those judgmental bigots stinking up the joint.