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Disney parks to reorganize, more positions to be eliminated

February 18, 2009 |  3:28 pm

Tomorrowland_2 

UPDATE: Disney says the reorganization will also create one group to identify "development opportunities" for the parks, not "acquisitions." The previous information was based on a statement erroneously provided by the company.

The Walt Disney Co. has announced a broad restructuring of its parks and resorts operation -- a move that sets the stage for more job cuts in the coming weeks.

The large-scale reorganization, which encompasses Disneyland, Disney World, cruise ships and resorts that it runs in places like Hilton Head, S.C., comes on the heels of last month's buyout package offers to 600 parks executives.

"These changes are essential to maintaining our leadership position in family tourism and reflect today's economic realities," Jay Rasulo, Parks chairman, said a statement.

Under the new structure, facets of Disneyland and Walt Disney World will be consolidated into a single domestic operation, to be headed by Worldwide Operations President Al Weiss.

Rasulo said the company would streamline its operating structure to simplify the operations -- and in the process, reduce overhead. He said the reorganization was a further step in an operational review begun in 2005 at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, although he acknowledged that the bleak economy has accelerated the pace of the changes.

Disneyland Resort President Ed Grier and Walt Disney World Resort President Meg Crofton will continue to oversee the ride operations and other facets of customer attendance. However, Weiss' group will take over functions that cut across parks, such as procurement, menu planning and ordering stuffed animals.

The operations of Walt Disney Imagineering group will also be simplified. Chief Creative Executive Bruce Vaughn and Chief Design and Project Delivery Executive Craig Russell will continue to oversee the development of attractions for all Disney parks and resorts. But the group will no longer have separate groups devoted to development for resorts, entertainment and attractions.

A new global business development team will combine real estate development and business development under Executive Vice President Nick Franklin.

The changes are intended to streamline the organization and create one group that identifies possible acquisitions and park expansions, another that implements it and a third that is in charge of operations, company officials said.

The restructuring probably will result in job cuts, on top of the buyouts offered in January. It's unclear how many positions will be lost.

"Organization changes require difficult decisions, including the elimination of some roles," Rasulo said. "These decisions were not made lightly and we know this will be a challenging transition. The people affected are our friends and colleagues"

--Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo credit: Timothy O'Rourke / Bloomberg News

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