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Disney Stores' Chief Is Going to Disneyland

November 08, 1994|MATT LAIT and JAMES S. GRANELLI | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

ANAHEIM — Ushering in a new generation of leadership, Walt Disney Co. announced Monday that the head of its Disney Stores division has been appointed president of Disneyland.

Paul Pressler, 38, who joined Disney in 1987, will also be in charge of the Disneyland Hotel and other resort venues in Anaheim, including the planned $3-billion Disneyland Resort. His promotion marks the first time since Disneyland opened in 1955 that park operations will be commanded by someone other than a protege of founder Walt Disney.

"Paul is a talented, creative business executive," Disney Chairman Michael D. Eisner said in a statement. "He is fiscally sophisticated, he nurtures great ideas, and he knows how to see them through. I know that Disneyland will thrive under his leadership."

Pressler is known for his aggressive expansion of the Disney Stores empire from 160 stores to 335 in eight countries.

"I'm terribly excited," said Pressler, whose official title will be president of Disneyland Resort. "I think it's going to be a tremendous decade for Disneyland. In a lot of ways I'm in awe because I'll be in the house that Walt built."

James C. Goss, who follows Disney for the brokerage Duff & Phelps in Chicago, said the selection of Pressler shows that the company is putting Disneyland's future growth in the hands of someone who has engineered vigorous growth in another part of the Disney kingdom.

Pressler takes over at a time when many Orange County political and business leaders are concerned about the direction of the aging theme park and Disney's commitment to its much-delayed expansion, which would include 1,800 new hotel rooms, a shopping district and a second theme park called Westcot.

Pressler, who fills the vacancy left last year by the retirement of Jack L. Lindquist, was promoted over other high-level park executives including Norm Doerges, executive vice president of park operations.

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