In the continuing cascade of surprising executive news from Team Disney, the mysterious and possibly mythical Disneyland Resort President Ed Grier announced today that he would be retiring Friday. When asked for comment, Disneyland cast members said, “Who?”
Grier capped his 28-year career at Disney, where he started as a senior auditor at Walt Disney World, with his three years in charge of Disneyland. His tenure in Anaheim is best known for his near-total absence from the park, which disappointed many after previous resort president Matt Ouimet became famous for the amount of time he spent in Disneyland interacting with front-line cast members. Ouimet also remains beloved amongst fans for overseeing the restoration of Disneyland following the disastrous presidencies of Paul Pressler and Cynthia Harriss (both of whom went on to fail spectacularly at Gap Inc.), while Grier has only been tasked to maintain a fragile status quo during an economic turndown.
Grier, who is only 54, departs Disney using the ol’ “more time with the family” canard; this chestnut was also used by Harriss before she fled to The Gap to rejoin Pressler. He apparently realized it was time to retire as he helped move his son into Stanford this fall, and plans to spend his time helping another son run his new production company.
So who will run Disneyland? Previous resignations have usually included the announcement of a replacement, so I suspect we’ll know soon. Grier mentions that he’s been planning this exit for a while; one would expect Disney has a succession plan in place. But which way will it go? Will it be a true-blue Disneylander like Ouimet, an incompetent hatchetman like Pressler, or merely a photo-op placeholder like Grier? Will there be more resignations? Phil Holmes? Meg Crofton? Jay Rasulo? Will Ouimet return on his white horse to save Disney park fans from the budgeteers?
More as the world turns…