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George Kalogridis Becomes Walt Disney World's First Openly Gay President

Walt Disney World has, of course, long courted a gay following. But now, the Orlando-based resort is taking the next step by welcoming its first openly gay president. On Feb. 1, George Kalogridis became Disney World's fifth president, after having served as president of California's Disneyland since 2009. As South Florida Gay News reports, the 59-year-old Kalogridis has been with the Walt Disney Company since 1971, when he landed a job bussing tables at Disney's Contemporary Resort on the Orlando property. The Orlando Business Journal also notes that Kalogridis -- who replaces Meg Crofton -- will oversee more than 66,000 cast members in his new role, which is nearly three times the amount he managed while at Disneyland. Meanwhile, Crofton assumed the role of president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France. "Everybody has a unique leadership style, but I think we have a common vision as a segment, and that's how we operate all of our parks around the world," he is quoted by the Orlando Sentinel as saying. "This is a volatile business world and things change, and so it's really more how can we as a team make sure that we adapt." The Sentinel also cites friends and colleagues who describe Kalogridis as "breathing Disney." The publication points out that he and longtime partner Andy Hardy (who also reportedly works for Disney) are planning to build a home in Golden Oak, Disney World's new luxury subdivision. In 2011, Kalogridis was featured in an "It Gets Better" video, where he addressed "anyone who has ever been bullied, teased, or harassed for being different," popular Disney blog Inside the Magic pointed out.

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