The interesting thing about the rumor mill is that it gets really lively, dies off, then repeats. Read on to discover which executives are slated to move around, the latest state of Avatarland, and what’s hot in the rumor mill at Downtown Disney.
I’ll start with the most juicy rumor regarding another executive shuffle at The Walt Disney World Resort. To start, Dan Cockerell, former VP of EPCOT, who moved to VP of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) in summer 2011, is headed to the Magic Kingdom to be VP. Phil Holmes, current VP of the Magic Kingdom will be retiring. Perhaps even more interesting is the coming appointment of Jim MacPhee, VP of Next Generation Experiences and Walt Disney World Parks, to President of Walt Disney World. Currently, Meg Crofton has that position under her belt (along with Disneyland and Disneyland Resort Paris). So where does that leave Meg Crofton? Sources indicate she will be replaced with another common name, but details are sketchy at this point.
You might recall in my previous blog, I discussed the potential leadership change coming from CEO Bob Iger and working its way down. Could this be a result of that? It’s hard to say, but in my opinion, Dan’s movement indicates he is being groomed for a position higher up in the company, especially since he has only been at DHS for a little over a year. Dan has humble beginnings in the company, having worked in parking at EPCOT and as a front line food and beverage manager at Disneyland Resort Paris which makes him a good fit, in my eyes, for a higher role. Additionally, the vague tidbit about Meg Crofton leaves her status in the company up in the air, and THAT is movement I’ll watch with a close eye. I don’t have an exact timeline on when all this is supposed to happen, but reliable sources indicate it’s coming.
Next up, information continues to conflict about Avatarland at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Since it was announced, there has been no concept art released and no official word on the location in the park. In a previous rumor piece, I posted about Festival of the Lion King (FOTLK) moving to Africa, and that seemed to be confirmed because some contracted acts were only given a 6 month contract rather than a typical year, with rumors also swirling that the show is set to close in January or shortly after the new year. Yet, Avatarland continues to be hotly debated with many claiming it’s effectively on hold right now. So I question why they are planning to close FOTLK before a replacement theater is built, and if Avatarland is on hold, are they stil going to close FOTLK? One thing’s for sure, there’s a LOT still up in the air.
Lastly we come to my favorite topic, Downtown Disney. On October 6th, a new guide map with the tagline “Dine, Dance, Play” on the cover will debut along with a numbering system to indicate the location of the shops, restaurants, and activities. But that’s boring, let’s talk about the interesting stuff: sources have indicated some kind of dance party is coming to Downtown Disney, specifically to the island formerly containing pleasure. The dance party is said to be a concept similar to the Mad T Party at Disney California Adventure. A large amount of Mad Hatter Tea party pin merchandise has shown up recently at Downtown Disney and new Mad Hatter human statues have been added as well. Chatter was initially very high, but has since died down with one report that the idea was shelved, but I think it’s still worth mentioning considering the amount of attention it was given when information first leaked out. Regarding the clubs, there continues to be information, some of which is confirmed, but I’m waiting for more clarity before I go into detail. Having said that, I do know people have been utilizing the big garage door at the back of Mannequins. The question is why, and that’s what I’m trying to find out.
So that’s what’s new in the rumor mill. Some kind of expansion is still on the table for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but I’ll save that for next time!