Walt Disney must be rolling over in his cryogenic chamber right now. On Friday, George Kalogridis became the first openly gay president of Walt Disney World, where he’ll oversee some 66,000 employees with a velvet, animated glove.
Kalogridis began working at Disney World back in 1971, busing tables; then 17, he was hired before the park’s official opening. Now 59, Kalogridis has put in time as President of Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Chief Operating Officer of Disneyland Resort Paris.
Disney World is the world’s most-visited entertainment resort, featuring four theme parks, two water parks, 24,000 hotel rooms, 3,000 time-share suites, a 120-acre retail complex and a 230-acre sports campus.
Its annual Gay Day, held on June 1, has become one of the largest pride events in the world, attracting some 150,000 LGBTs as well as their friends and families.
“The first thing I see is one big word: humility. This is a very, very big place, and having been able to see it from Day 1 and to see it now — truly, you have to respect just how incredible this project is,” Kalogridis told the Orlando Sentinel.
Kalogridis plans to make Disney World his home, both literally and figuratively. He and his partner of 12 years, Andy Hardy, are building their own little castle in Golden Oak, the luxury subdivision that Disney World is developing on the northeastern corner of its 40-square mile property.