Walt Disney World Welcomes First Openly Gay President

george-kalogridisWalt 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.

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  • Dionte

    That’s amazing, I’m going to Disney World this year.

  • BritAus

    First OPENLY gay president … lol

  • Ryan

    The quoted text was taken out of context. Actually, the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t even mention the fact that he is gay other than a note about his partner. The quote about humility was about MyMagic+.

  • Aidan8

    LOL This should serve to irritate a few evangelicals… Gotta love it.

  • tarutan

    Aren’t 90% of Disney’s employees gay?

  • Bellerophon69

    Wait a minute!!! Disney corp. will even admit that gay people exist?!? What planet did I wake up on??? It wasn’t that long ago that you couldn’t get in if you were wearing jeans with holes in them and hair over your collar; now they’re putting a (gasp!) GAY MAN in charge?!?! Did I fall down a rabbit hole or a wormhole and land in a bizarro world?!?

  • Eric

    This is significant for our James family. My book Jesse James Soul Liberty Vol. I describes the court case in 1980 when my cousin, Judge James R. Ross (a great grandson of the iconic outlaw Jesse James) ruled against Disneyland, when Disneyland violated the civil rights of Andrew Exler (now mono-named Crusader) & Shawn Elliott, who were evicted from Disneyland for dancing together. Conservatives in Orange County, California targeted Judge Ross for removal from his bench. Jim’s landmark decision, however, paved the path to remedial legislation. Disney now appears to have come around. Disney’s turnaround, I believe, will be truly effected when Disney introduces and supports a gay cartoon character.

    More often than not, progress works in quirky ways, as I personally experienced. Around 1968 my professional acting career was placed on high risk when I accepted to replace Kenneth Nelson in the lead role of Michael in the groundbreaking off-Broadway play about gay life, Boys in the Band. I played in the role for two years in New York, Las Vegas, & Los Angeles. When asked to do the San Francisco production, I replied, “I’ve been queen for two years, but San Francisco deserves a real one.” Why they cast me, a straight, in the lead role, I have yet to figure out.

  • AxelDC

    He is sleeping with Mickey Rooney? He must be a friend of Dorothy to land Andy Hardy.

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