Disney theme park boss leaves for Gap

Posted Thursday, September 26, 2002 7:34 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Disney's head of theme parks and resorts. Paul Pressler, is leaving his post for the CEO position at Gap, the retail clothing company. Disney has not yet names a replacement.

Read more from Reuters via iWon.

Thursday, September 26, 2002 7:36 AM
This is the single greatest thing that could have EVER happened to the Disney company. The parks will now have a chance to get back to their formal glory. Hopefully they will replace him with someone that won't take an axe to park budgets and projects.

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I hear a train a comin'
Comin' round the bend :P
TR2k3....GET READY!

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 7:40 AM
Jeff's avatar

It just floors me when people start talking about restoring budgets and spending money at parks. Did you ever think that maybe they're spending less money because they're making less money? If an executive reduces spending when revenue is down, that doesn't make him evil, it makes him responsible.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
"There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, when it's all in your mind. You gotta let go." - Ghetto, Supreme Beings of Leisure

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 8:02 AM

Yes, I understand this, but the spending cuts forced Disney to place their reputation of high quality themed attractions at risk. Remember, their high quality attractions and great service is what keeps the GP coming back year after year. Now, if you make cuts to projects such as California Adventure and Animal Kingdom, it throws doubts in the minds of the GP and they tend to make decisions that will leave out certain parks or cancel trips altogether.

Remember the millenium celebration when they had something new at every single park. In turn, attendance shot through the roof. Now, look at 100 years of Magic.... they add about 75% less to the parks and their hotels are at 65% capacity... They have to give people reasons to come back to the park, especially those who just attended the millenium celebration. What have they added since then? not much of anything. As most people know, you have to spend money to make money.

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I hear a train a comin'
Comin' round the bend :P
TR2k3....GET READY!

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 8:05 AM

I forget where I found it, but I came across an "editorial" of sorts that was written as an anonymous letter to Michael Eisner on behalf of Disney fans everywhere, claiming that there were 10 ways to save Disney. Replacing Pressler was one of those ways, as the article stated that Disney enthusiasts absolutely despise him for what he did to the theme parks.

I'm not saying if this news is good or bad, but I'm sure that lots of Disney aficianados will be happy...

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 9:41 AM
Thanks Nate! That's the article.
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Thursday, September 26, 2002 12:15 PM
Well Jeff I kinda have to disagree with you. It does make that "executive" evil when he takes an end of season bonus in excess of $300,000. See this is one thing I can't understand is how Companies like Disney and Cedar Fair (Dorney Park) will bellyache about how revenue is down for the year and yet at the end of their season the executive's will receive a bonus that continues to grow year by year. So if you look at it closely, you will see that these companies usually reduce spending on new projects so they can fatten their own pockets year to year. Not to say that most people wouldn't do the same.
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Thursday, September 26, 2002 1:58 PM
Jeff's avatar

Give me a break... $300k for an executive bonus in a business that does billions every year is a drop in the bucket. And furthermore I've heard no "bellyaching" on the part of Cedar Fair. In fact, today they just announced an increase in quarterly cash distribution, which pleases me as a unit holder.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
"There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, when it's all in your mind. You gotta let go." - Ghetto, Supreme Beings of Leisure

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 2:34 PM

here we go again. but its true, US execs are overpaid- ask any European or Japanese exec what the biggest problem with the us economic system is, and thats what they'll tell you.

And its finally what the US media is beginning to tell the American public.

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 3:04 PM

I've gotta say this is a good thing...I've been going to both CP and Disney for a long time. Disney has been over extending itself at the expense of it's image. Epcot is disaster and poor management and not $$ is to blame. The focus is gone. Rides boarded up (Living Seas cabs.), rides in disrepair (Spaceship Earth), lost corporate sponsors, but they can add a new attractions across the park. Walt Disney said if you can't do it right don't. I agree. They keep adding parks because of the "Demand" but complain about improvements and up keep because of low attendance.

Any change in management can only help. They entire management staff needs a shot in the arm.

I have never seen CP make some of the dumb decisions that Disney has made. Granted they are in different markets and a theme park is different than a thrill park... I find it hard to believe that I would ever go to CP and find a multi-million dollar coaster in such disrepair they had to close it while they are building a brand new coaster on the other side of the park......

(With this rant now completed I must say that I am a season pass holder at CP and visit Disney annually.. The Disney experience is a must even with the problems they have...)

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 3:53 PM
Well Jeff try doing a little research before you speak and try working for Cedar Fair. I worked for Dorney park where John Albino (general manager) makes $309,808 in salery and a seasonal bonus of $147,250. Dick Kinzel on the other hand makes $839,231 salery and a $336,000 end of season bonus. The "bellyaching" I was refering to was at Dorney Park, a Cedar Fair company. At one time during the season we were over budget by 4000 hours. Word comming down from upper management was that the seasonal employees were going to have to take a pay cut for the 2003 season. Now keep in mind that the management only has a realllll lot on their plate during about 4 months out of the year, the rest of the year is a lot of paper work and other stuff. Here's my point, when you have a person who makes an end of season bonus in excess of $100,000. I believe the consumer has a right to question why a particular park (Not Dorney in this case) won't be adding anything new for the following season.
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Thursday, September 26, 2002 4:28 PM

Right at the beginning, I was thinking the same as most of the other posters. 'YES!!!'

I still think that this is a good move, but not because Pressler was necessarily bad. I just like to see a little shakeup, and a possible new direction (or reverting back to the old, good direction.)

But the reason I don't blame Pressler is Disney Sea Tokyo.

Everyone talks about the American mouse's problems, how Cal Adventure (a park I've been to and enjoy) is Six Flags with one good coaster, how WDL is dirty... Prices...

I blame the American park development people (Imagineering?) for Cal. Adventure, because, as we've seen, Disney will spend, and when they do really attempt big, they achive, and Pressler was around to open DisneySea (Opened a short time ago.)

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"Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation." - David St. Hubbins, Spinal Tap
http://www.loopscrew.com

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 6:06 PM
Jeff's avatar

Dude, who cares what's going on at Dorney? I read the annual report, I see who has bought stock... do you think I'm some kind of idiot who blindly invests in a company because I think it's cool? Give me a little credit.

Kinzel is the big chief, and on his watch stock prices go up and cash distribution goes up. As an investor who profits from that situation, I say he earns and deserves that money.

As for your local guy, what do you suggest, pay the position less, let the person leave and get a less-qualified person do a worse job? That doesn't make any sense. YOU do the research. Earlier this month they said attendance and revenue at Dorney "continued to perform well."

And if you really think park GM's work four months out of the year, you're living in a fantasy world.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
"There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, when it's all in your mind. You gotta let go." - Ghetto, Supreme Beings of Leisure

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 6:40 PM
Obviously you do care or you wouldn't have responed to my post, and no I didn't say they only work four months out of the year, I said duing time is when they have the most work to do. I know there is a lot of work to do in the off season what do you think I am, an idiot? Here's what I am saying, if you are going to cut the pay of someone Making $5.75 an hour and busting their butt for the company, cut the pay all the way around in order to improve the park in general.
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Thursday, September 26, 2002 7:32 PM
Well, I want to say I'm happy, but we'll see what happens. I can say that I am excited.

We Disney fanatics would like to see a really great promotion, like, um, Roy Disney take the helm of the parks. I would probably wet myself.

Ya damn right Disney posters are happy! *** This post was edited by spacemountain551 on 9/26/2002. ***

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Thursday, September 26, 2002 9:02 PM

If a fat salary and big year-end bonus is what keeps in place a management team that gets results in a particular park, then I see nothing wrong with the high dollar amount. I wholeheartedly agree that park executives (or executives in any industry, for that matter) should be reasonably rewarded when there is a "job well done"... as long as it doesn't hurt those hundreds of employees in the park that are helping get results. If Dick Kinzel gets a huge bonus, then he is being compensated for going above and beyond what is expected of him in terms of profitability, attendance, etc.

Regarding Pressler, I wouldn't normally be so against a guy that I know very little about, but I do find it odd that SO many people claim to hate this guy and what he has done to Disney. He seems to have a reputation that surpasses that of the most despised Six Flags managers. IMO, if you are the head of Disney theme parks, you have a certain obligation to present guests with an experience that is worlds away from anything else out there. That means maintaining rides, adding new attractions and refurbishing new ones on a regular basis, and making each park the best it can be before another park is added (I don't think that many people will argue that DCA and Animal Kingdom are the best that they can be, yet new parks are obviously being planned). People seem to have a lot of bad things to say about Disney parks lately, and it has to be someone's fault.

Some new blood might be the answer.

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Friday, September 27, 2002 4:49 AM

The Disney theme parks in Florida need work. They have lost alot of their direction and sense of action. The quality of the attention to detail in the parks has declined over the past 12 years and is very evident. I've read and seen things first hand in and about the parks that makes my skin crawl and my blood boil. The magic shop, the main street cinema, Mr. Toad, Carpet rides in Adventure land?, no more swan boats... why the hell not? too expensive? paaaleeeassse, Horizons, Figment, Country Bear Jamboree, World of Motion, If You Had Wings, The Carosel of Progress, The Walt Disney Story removed... ahh, NOT THAT HE WAS A GENIUS AND THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT REASON THE PLACE EVEN EXISTS OR ANYTHING CRAZY LIKE THAT!!!!!, poor maintenance, early closings, animated merchandising vs. art...I could go on but I won't because I don't wish to feel any worse than I already do. ANYONE, who is responsible for the operation of these parks over the last 12 years that is leaving Disney can only be a good thing.

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Friday, September 27, 2002 9:42 AM
I-Nar, Disney didn't foot the bill for Tokyo DisneySeas, it was the Oriental Land Company. The imagineers were basically just handed the funds to create the park, unlike here where the suits build parks now. The problem with the Disney company wasn't just Pressler, it goes all the way to the top with Eisner. He has become stale in his management of the company. Where once he was innovating, now he seems content to just imitate. He dissolved the R&D department just this week, which means that now there will be no new innovative rides to come out of WDI anymore. It's all just going to be someone else's new technology or off-the-shelf. Which is fine for Six Flags or CF, but not for Disney. Especially not when Universal is still willing to innovate right down the way in Orlando. Until Eisner wises up and realizes that he needs to start innovating again, Disney will never regain their former glory. Pressler leaving is a great thing, but there still needs to be a cleansing of the management at Disney, starting at the top.
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Friday, September 27, 2002 1:15 PM

Pressler did plenty wrong on his watch. Here's just a sampling:

* Replaced park specific merchandise with same merchandise from Disney Stores.

* Designed and Implemented plan to close attractions early that backfired at Disneyland when local newspapers ran the plans.

* Suggested that DCA be designed by the (cheaper and faster) Disney Development Company (real estate concern who builds hotels and restaurants) instead of WDI.

I see this as a great development, but I know that the fish stinks from the head. I'm hoping that Eisner eithers reinvents himself or the company's stakeholders push him out.

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