Walt Disney World’s Gay President
When he answered an employment ad in 1971, it's safe to assume that George Kalogridis, a Winter Haven native, never thought that he would be starting out his career, much less imagined that he would one day return to run the place. But this past February that's exactly what happened.
After starting off as a bus boy at the Contemporary Resort, Kalogridis really took to the Disney way and began to work his way into the corporate side of the company. One of his earlier positions with the company saw him as the General Manager of the Grand Floridian, one of the ritzier hotels at Walt Disney World.
It's reported that when a guest complained that the hotel's grass was wet at an event she was attending, he personally went out with his staff and a bunch of towels and dried the grass off. He is dedicated to the company, to their brand, and to ensuring that all guests have a magical time while at Walt Disney World.
If you have been to Epcot for the International Food and Wine Festival, you can thank Kalogridis for helping to create it, and if, while you're at Gay Days this weekend, you pick up a pin to add to your collection, he also had a hand in marketing that idea.
Now he is overseeing the largest upgrade to the Magic Kingdom since it opened, the $245 million expansion of Fantasyland, including a new Seven Dwarfs rollercoaster, Little Mermaid ride, and Beauty and the Beast experience. He lives with his partner Andy on Disney property in Golden Oak, a luxury subdivision on the north east corner of their 40 square mile property.
As the first openly Gay president of Walt Disney World, he must love it when Gay Days comes around, despite the fact that Disney doesn't officially sponsor the events. Since the inception of its Corporate Equality Index, the Human Rights campaign has consistently rated Disney as one of the best places for LGBT people to work, but let's face it, Disney would be nothing if they didn't have "family" working there. Who else is as creative as we are? Who else in Florida has the need for thousands of actors, performers, waiters, artists, and other jobs in the service industry? These are all jobs we gays thrive in and it was only a matter of time until one of us got the top job.
According to published reports, the new president is often seen wondering the parks, talking to guests and employees alike, something tells me he will be out and proud, wearing red this year as the LGBT community shows up in record numbers.