In my first role at Walt Disney World, my office was above what is now Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, in Magic Kingdom. During the breaks, my leader and I walked down Main Street, USA, and he pointed to the windows advertised by fictitious business owners, from music schools and detective agencies to modeling agencies and fence painters. Businesses are fictitious, but their owners are real; exceptional people who helped shape the legacy of Walt Disney World. A “window on the main street” has been, and continues to be, for a long time our final praise to such exceptional cast members.
We confer new windows very seldom. Still, on September 12th we dedicated a window to a beloved Disney leader on all three continents, and who at Walt Disney World we still love as “one of ours”.
Like me, George A. Kalogridis grew up in Winter Haven, Florida. It began with Disney in September 1971 as a bus to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I was pretty sure it would only be a temporary job, which would make my way to college. Half a century later, it continues with Disney. His leadership roles, which include presidencies at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, have been within what is now the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment.
George has had a hand in many things during his career, such as the creation of Disney Pin Trading and the memorable “Frozen Summer Fun” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. He directed the station during a period of remarkable growth and opened Pandora: The World of Avatar, Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge; experiences that have become staples of the Walt Disney World vacation. Today, in addition to being President of Segment Development and Enrichment, George is also the world ambassador for the 50th anniversary of our complex. These achievements have been nothing short of legendary and now there is a special place in the Magic Kingdom that pays homage to the person behind it.
Next time you’re at the Magic Kingdom, I hope you slow down and watch the windows of Main Street, USA Not just George’s, but all of them. The extraordinary contributions of the people in these windows are part of what makes Walt Disney World Resort “the most magical place on Earth.”