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'it's a small world' at Disneyland Park

Historic Relationship Continues with $5 Million Donation from the Disneyland Resort to Children’s Hospital of Orange County

posted on February 6th, 2012 by George A. Kalogridis, President, Disneyland Resort

In February 1960, Walt Disney joined a newly formed executive council dedicated to filling the growing need for a children’s hospital in Orange County, California. Fundraising came to fruition and dedication turned to development with Children’s Hospital of Orange County first opening its doors in 1964. Since then, the relationship between the Disneyland Resort and CHOC has continued to grow.

From left, Mickey Mouse, CHOC Children’s President and CEO Kim Cripe, 14-year-old CHOC patient Tommy Conforti and Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis.

This morning, 52 years after Walt helped secure donations for their first building, the Disneyland Resort announced a charitable contribution of $5 million toward CHOC Children’s fundraising goals for their newest building!

CHOC Children’s state-of-the-art, seven-story tower is set to open in spring 2013. It will feature fun and engaging experiences for all CHOC visitors on the second-floor lobby where Imagineers and Disneyland Resort cast members are currently working on some very magical designs.

As a company with 22,000 cast members in Southern California, many of whom have utilized the services at CHOC, we are bound together by much more than just proximity.

It’s about our shared history …starting with Walt Disney more than five decades ago.

It’s about our present relationship … maintaining a great bond through sustainable programs like the CHOC Walk, efforts from our Disney VoluntEARS and charitable donations like this one.

And it’s about our future together … supporting not only the building of a new tower, but the vision of building a stronger community with our friends at CHOC Children’s.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disneyland Resort

Looking Ahead: 2012 at the Disneyland Resort

posted on January 18th, 2012 by George A. Kalogridis, President, Disneyland Resort

Five years ago, the Disneyland Resort announced the second-largest expansion since the gates first opened in 1955. On the verge of its completion, it excites me to think that the next chapter in our storied history is about to unfold.

As you walk through the parks, hotels and the Downtown Disney District, I hope you sense the pride and enthusiasm building not only within our 22,000 cast members, but also within you, our guests, who have patiently and eagerly traveled along on this journey with us.

Radiator Springs in Cars Land Coming to Disney California Adventure Park

Every component of this expansion—from attractions, merchandise and dining locations, to new entertainment and re-imagined hotels— has been designed to craft new pages of our story.

So whether you are looking to whoosh down a monorail waterslide, stroll along Main Street, U.S.A., cruise through Radiator Springs or walk into a 1920s-era Los Angeles, memories await you at the Disneyland Resort in 2012.

Here’s to an exciting year ahead. I look forward to seeing you at the parks soon!

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney District

Celebrating 40 Years at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on September 30th, 2011 by George A. Kalogridis, President, Disneyland Resort

George Kalogridis Celebrates 40 Years at Walt Disney World Resort

As most of you know, Walt Disney World Resort turns 40 soon. And it’s no coincidence I’m celebrating my 40th anniversary with Disney as well, along with nearly 100 other cast members who opened Walt Disney World Resort in 1971, and continue to work for the company today.

I still remember my first interview, standing in the heat, in a queue that went on for what seemed like forever. I listened as the people in front of me and behind me talked about how they just came off the Apollo program in Cape Canaveral. So there I was, fresh out of high school with my diploma and those around me had just sent men to the moon! I thought I didn’t stand a chance!

As luck would have it, I did get the job and was hired as a busboy at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Two days before opening day, I took my mother to a cast open house where the first attraction we rode was ‘it’s a small world’ and I remember thinking how amazing it was. It’s still one of my favorites today.

I’ve had countless memories and incredible experiences over the last 40 years including opening Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, working at Magic Kingdom Park for the Bicentennial celebration and at Disneyland Paris for its 15th anniversary, as well as being part of the openings of Epcot and Disney California Adventure. The same excitement I felt on my first day has continued to grow and has carried with me through the many years and experiences but I’ll never forget where my journey began. I’m proud to still keep in touch with some of those first cast members I worked with at the Contemporary Resort.

As I reflect on my career and those of many colleagues I’ve grown with in this organization, I can say with certainty the reason so many have stayed through the years is due to the values we share with the company and one another – two things you simply cannot duplicate. I can’t imagine having spent the last 40 years anywhere else – and I look forward to our road ahead.

Congratulations on 40 years, Walt Disney World Resort!

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Filed: Disney History, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney VoluntEARS Help Build KaBOOM! Playground in Anaheim

posted on June 27th, 2011 by George A. Kalogridis, President, Disneyland Resort

We recently told you about a new KaBOOM! playground at Edison Park in Anaheim that Disney VoluntEARS, our partners and local community were setting out to build. I’m happy to report after three days, with the help of 320 volunteers, three tractor trailers of mulch, 483 bags of cement, a few blisters and eventually a bunch of very happy children, the project is now complete!

I couldn’t be more proud of the work we accomplished. This KaBOOM! playground build reflects our strong beliefs at the Disneyland Resort – the importance of community, partnerships, family interaction and promoting an active and healthy lifestyle for our children. It’s rewarding to know more than 1,200 Anaheim children now have a safe place to play, be active and enjoy time with their families.

The build not only included a playground designed and voted on by the kids, but five fitness stations and a learning garden at nearby Thomas Edison Elementary School, providing students an opportunity to stay active and eat healthy. Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs and his executive team joined in the fun, helping to paint a mural and revamping an afterschool program building for local Boys and Girls Club children.

Thank you to all of the neighborhood families who helped build a better environment for their children. To the city of Anaheim, Thomas Edison Elementary School, the Anaheim Family YMCA and KaBOOM!, thank you for your extraordinary partnerships and efforts. Anaheim is a better place because of all of you.

Here is a video that shows just how this project came to life – check it out!

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disneyland Resort

20th Annual CHOC Walk in the Park – Making a Difference with Only a Few Steps

posted on October 11th, 2010 by George A. Kalogridis, President, Disneyland Resort

George Kalogridis at CHOC Walk in the Park

In just a few days, many Disneyland Resort cast members, guests and members of the community will take the steps to make a difference by walking in one of our most heartwarming and popular events — the 20th annual CHOC Walk in the Park.

This event, which takes place on the morning of Sunday, October 17 and benefits Children’s Hospital of Orange County, holds a special place in my heart — not only was it the first event I experienced last year as president of Disneyland Resort, but I am now privileged to sit on the board of CHOC Children’s just as Walt Disney did so many years ago.

It truly is an honor to continue Walt’s legacy, and to give back to the families and children in our community through our partnership with CHOC. For the past nine years, Disneyland Resort has hosted the walk that has paved the way to making dreams come true for thousands of families. Walt recognized the importance of giving, and the power behind a supported community, and I’m happy to say that compassion and support is still alive and well in our parks today.

I want to thank all of those who have walked, donated and volunteered in the past, and encourage everyone to take these steps to making a difference. Unlike the CHOC Walk, the ability to make a difference has no finish line.

For more information on the CHOC Walk, and how to get involved, visit

I hope to see you all out there on October 17!

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disneyland Resort

Happy Anniversary, Disneyland!

posted on July 17th, 2010 by George A. Kalogridis, President, Disneyland Resort

As we celebrate 55 years today, I look back on my nearly 40 years with The Walt Disney Company and countless memories, and I feel privileged to be back in Anaheim – where it all began.
Mark Twain Riverboat
When I was a little boy, I remember watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” and especially a show entitled “Disneyland After Dark.” I loved seeing the Mark Twain Riverboat come around the bend on the Rivers of America, with all of its lights and a jazz band playing on the deck, and I used to imagine how wonderful it would be to experience something so magical. Now I have the privilege of leading the place where the Mark Twain Riverboat still travels the Rivers of America.

I want to take a moment today to thank all of you – our guests and fans – for the support and loyalty you’ve shown Disneyland park for the last 55 years. I also want to thank and recognize the 20,000 cast members who work hard every day to make the Disneyland Resort a place of “joy and inspiration for all the world.” You truly create happiness, and I am proud of the work you do.

I will be celebrating the day surrounded by guests and cast members, including some of the original cast members from 1955 who worked with Walt Disney as he created Disneyland park. I look forward to hearing their stories and adding to my memory bank today. I hope that you are also able to look back on great memories of your visits to Disneyland park and know that your memories are cherished pieces of our history.

Here’s to the next 55!

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Resort