Welcome to DisneyBizJournal.com - News, Analysis and Reviews of the Disney Entertainment Business!

Brought to fans, investors, entrepreneurs, executives, teachers, professors, and students by columnist, economist, novelist, reviewer, podcaster, business reporter and speaker Ray Keating

Friday, December 4, 2020

Disney Ditching the Radio Business

 by Ray Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

December 4, 2020

 

The Walt Disney Company has announced that it’s getting out of the radio business early next year.



As part of the company’s ongoing restructuring, Disney revealed that it will be closing Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country in early 2021. That will mean the loss of 36 full and part-time positions.

 

Radio Disney kicked off in November 1996, with Radio Disney Country added as a digital channel in 2015. Disney had owned 23 radio stations at one point, but sold 22 of those in 2014, with KRDC-AM in Los Angeles remaining. That station will be sold in 2021.

 

In a statement from Radio Disney, it was noted: “Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country will cease operations in the first quarter of 2021… The difficult decision to close these two radio networks coincided with Disney’s recently announced structural changes that call for Disney Branded Television to sharpen its focus on increasing production of kids’ and family content for Disney+ and Disney Channels. Division leaders also took into account the fast evolving media environment that provides more personalized music choices than ever to a generation of young consumers, and the ongoing public health crisis that continues to affect in-person music events.”

 

The fast-changing transformation in the way consumers get and consume entertainment continues.

 

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Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. Pre-order the latest thriller/mystery in the series – Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel – for the Kindle or signed books. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

 

Pre-order The Disney Planner 2021: The TO DO List Solution today!

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

 

Also, get the paperback or Kindle edition of Ray Keating’s new book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Hong Kong Disneyland To Close for Third Time

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

December 1, 2020

 

COVID-19 has brought the fun at another Disney Park to a grinding halt.  For the third time, Disney’s Hong Kong park will close due to rising COVID numbers, beginning tomorrow (December 2, 2020). 



According to Disney, “As required by the government and in line with preventative efforts taking place across Hong Kong, Hong Kong Disneyland park will temporarily close beginning December 2. We are in close contact with health authorities and the government about the situation, and will announce a reopening date once they determine it is advisable.” 

 

Following their initial closure in January 2020, Hong Kong Disneyland reopened in June, but then closed again in July, reopening yet again in September. Hong Kong was one of the Disney parks cited at the Q4 earnings call in early November as being a net positive for Disney’s bottom line. Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company, reported at the earnings call, “Walt Disney World, Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland all achieved a net positive contribution in the quarter, which means we generated revenue that exceeded the variable costs associated with re-opening.”

 

This is the second Disney Park to re-close because of COVID-19. Disneyland Paris, after re-opening in mid-July, closed for a second time in late October, with a hopeful re-launch date of Feb. 12, 2021. Disneyland California remains closed for the foreseeable future, and Disney Cruise Lines are sitting at the docks awaiting future sailing dates, having extended suspension of all departures through at least January 31, 2021.  Sailings are cancelled on board the Disney MagicDisney Wonder and Disney Dream through February 1 and the Disney Fantasy through February 6. 

 

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Pre-order The Disney Planner 2021: The TO DO List Solution today!

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

Monday, November 30, 2020

“Vatican Shadows” is the New Riveting Read from Award-Winning Novelist and DisneyBizJournal.com Publisher and Editor Ray Keating

 Facing Threats and Murder, a Pope Calls on a Lutheran Pastor and Former CIA Operative for Help

Long Island, NY – Ray Keating returns with his latest page-turning thriller titled Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel

 


More than 500 years ago, two men – Jan Hus and Martin Luther – tried to bring about change in the Catholic Church. They suffered, with one burned at the stake. Could a modern-day pope transform these reformers from heretics to heroes in the eyes of the Catholic Church? Shadowy figures inside and outside the Vatican oppose Pope Paul VII’s efforts, and stand willing to do anything to stop him. For help, the pope turns to Stephen Grant, a Lutheran pastor, former Navy SEAL and onetime CIA operative. 

 

The action is intense and unrelenting. The characters and relationships are captivating and filled with complexity, commitment and betrayal. The twists and turns are fun. The dialogue is lively. And the story serves up reflections about faith, love, conflict, history, and friendship that are thought-provoking. 

 

Ray Keating said, “First and foremost, I hope readers – whether they be longtime or new Pastor Grant readers – enjoy Vatican Shadows as a page-turning thriller. In addition, I think Vatican Shadows could serve as an ideal book for all kinds of book clubs and discussion groups.”

 

Paperbacks and the Kindle edition of Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel are at Amazon via https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P1S5R26 and signed books are at https://raykeatingonline.com/products/vaticanshadows.  

 

About Keating and his Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries, Kirkus Reviews simply says “exhilarating.” Lutheran Book Review says, “I miss Tom Clancy. Keating fills that void for me.” The retired host of KFUO radio’s BookTalk declares, “Ray Keating is a great novelist.” David Keene of The Washington Times calls these novels “great reads.”  And another reviewer observes, “How I'd love to see Pastor Grant on Netflix!”

 

Keating’s previous Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers/mysteries – The Traitor (2019), Deep Rough (2019), Shifting Sands (2018), Heroes and Villains (2018), Reagan Country (2018), Lionhearts (2017), Wine Into Water (2016), Murderer’s Row (2015), The River (2014), An Advent For Religious Liberty (2012), Root of All Evil? (Second Edition 2020)and Warrior Monk (Second Edition 2019) – have received widespread praise from all kinds of readers. 

 

Review copies, and author interviews and appearances are available upon request. 

 

Contact: Ray Keating

E-mail: raykeating@keatingreports.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PastorStephenGrantNovels

Twitter: @KeatingNovels

PastorStephenGrant.com

RayKeatingOnline.com

 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

“The Disney Holiday Singalong” to Air November 30

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

November 29, 2020

 

Back in the spring, when the pandemic first hit and families across the country went into lockdown in their homes, Disney brought their first “Singalong” to the TV screen. It was a monster success, and Disney quickly rushed a second edition into production, with more than 22.3 million viewers catching the two specials. If you have Disney+, you can still go back and watch them.



Now, with Christmas approaching, Ryan Seacrest is back, hosting a holiday edition of the fan-favorite singalong. The Disney Holiday Singalong will air Monday, November 30 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. EST on ABC.  Animated on-screen lyrics will help you sing along to the songs with the performers (as if you didn’t already know all the words!)

 

Among the celebrities belting out your holiday favorites this time are:

 

  • Andrea Bocelli — “Silent Night”
  • BTS — “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
  • Michael BublĂ© — “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”
  • Ciara — “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
  • Chloe x Halle — “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
  • Derek Hough and Hayley Erbert — “Hey Santa” and “Jingle Bells”
  • Julianne Hough — “Whistle While You Work” and “Let It Snow”
  • Adam Lambert — “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
  • Leslie Odom Jr. — “What’s This?”
  • Katy Perry — “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Cozy Little Christmas”
  • P!NK — “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”
  • Kerry Washington — “Joy to the World”
  • DCappella — carols throughout the evening

 

And while the lights on Broadway have been dark since March, and aren’t expected to come back on until sometime this spring, you’ll be able to catch the casts of The Lion King, Aladdin and the touring company of Frozen as Disney on Broadway brings you a performance of “Let It Go” from the New Amsterdam Theatre. (You can get a peek at the performers rehearsing their number at Good Morning America’s website here.)

 

As they did during their spring Singalongs, Disney will also use the opportunity to feature community-based organizations that can use your help during the holidays. In Singalongs Vol. I and II, Disney highlighted Feeding America. This time, they are raising awareness for Disney’s Feed the Love campaign, driving to Feeding America, Toys for Tots, and One Simple Wish. Disney’s association with Toys for Tots goes back to Walt himself, and you can even drop off toy donations through December 13 at your local Disney Store, or through shopdisney.com. 

 

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Pre-order The Disney Planner 2021: The TO DO List Solution today!

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Disney Much to be Thankful for at Thanksgiving Weekend Box Office

 by Chris Lucas

Guest Column

DisneyBizJournal.com

November 28, 2020

 

For the last thirty years, Disney has dominated the five-day Thanksgiving weekend box office almost every time they have had a movie released during that period. 

 

Last year’s Frozen 2 holds the all-time record for Thanksgiving weekend sales, with over $93 million. Disney holds the top six spots, with their dominance only broken by 2018’s Creed II in the seventh slot. 



Here are Disney’s Wednesday Thanksgiving releases in the United States since 1991 and how they did that weekend.

 

1991 - Beauty & The Beast - 1st 

1992 - Aladdin - 1st

1995 - Toy Story - 1st

1996 - 101 Dalmatians (live action) - 1st

1997 - Flubber - 1st

1998 - A Bug’s Life - 1st

1999 - Toy Story 2 - 1st

2000 - 102 Dalmatians- 3rd place, just behind Unbreakable and How The Grinch Stole Christmas

2002 - Treasure Planet - 4th place, behind Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets, 007 Die Another Day, and The Santa Clause 2

2003 - The Haunted Mansion - 2nd place, behind Elf

2004 - National Treasure - 1st

2007 – Enchanted - 1st

2008 - Bolt - 4th, behind Twilight, 007 Quantum of Solace and Four Christmases

2009 - Old Dogs - 4th place, behind Twilight: New MoonThe Blind Side, and 2012

2010 - Tangled - 2nd, behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

2011 - The Muppets - 2nd, behind Twilight: Breaking Dawn

2013 - Frozen - 2nd, behind Hunger Games: Catching Fire

2015 - The Good Dinosaur- 2nd, behind Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

2016 - Moana - 1st

2017 - Coco -1st

2018 - Ralph Breaks The Internet - 1st

2019 - Frozen 2 - 1st

 

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Chris Lucas is the author of Top Disney: 100 Top Ten Lists of the Best of Disney, from the Man to the Mouse and Beyond.

 

On the PRESS CLUB C Podcast, enjoy Ray’s discussion with Chris Lucas about his career as an actor, author and Disney expert. Tune in right here!

 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Bing Crosby – Christmas Crooner, Top Entertainer, Top Entrepreneur

 by Ray Keating

Commentary

DisneyBizJournal.com

November 26, 2020

 

(Note: Bing Crosby had links to Disney, including narrating the Ichabad Crane part of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. But there was much more, as Crosby and Walt Disney were friends, and they actually had entered into a business venture together to build the Hollywood Sports Garden in Los Angeles in the late 1930s. Meant to be far bigger than New York’s Madison Square Garden, the project eventually got derailed by zoning issues. (The Disney History Institute did a series on this in late 2013/early 2014, including this piece.) This article was first published at www.KeatingFiles.com.)

 

Bing Crosby (1903-1977) enters the American mind during each Christmas holiday season, as we listen to him sing “White Christmas” and perhaps watch him in the movie of the same name. Indeed, watching White Christmas, with Bing, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, is something of a Thanksgiving night tradition in the Keating home. 



But Bing deserves more than being that guy who only shows up during the Christmas season each year and then disappears. Crosby rates as one of the leading entertainers of the 20th Century, as well as ranking as a great entrepreneur.

 

I’ve long had great admiration for Crosby who excelled in a variety of arenas. But the impetus for writing this piece came when spotting an article on the Gallup website that highlighted a poll from 1950 capturing the enormous popularity of Bing at the time. 

 

Gallup found and reported that 33 percent of Americans in 1950 cited Bing Crosby as their favorite male singer, with second-place Perry Como only garnering 6 percent. That’s darn impressive, but here’s the real kicker: Crosby ranked number one among all age groups, i.e., among 21 to 29 year olds, those 31 to 49, and among those 50 and older. One cannot even imagine such an outcome, or anything close to it today.

 

But perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised when it came to Crosby, as he was an enormous wide-ranging success as an entertainer and entrepreneur.

 

In addition to being a wildly successful singer for decades, Crosby’s variety show on radio stayed atop the ratings year after year. He was a movie star, including winning an Oscar for his performance of Father O’Malley in Going My Way. And Crosby would go on to conquer television as well, including annual Christmas shows. He ranks as America’s first multimedia star – leading as box office, ratings and record sales gold.

 

Bing also was an entrepreneur on the sports front. An excellent golfer himself, he started the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am in 1937, a stop on the PGA Tour, with professionals teeing off with celebrity amateurs. It also was known as the Crosby Clambake. Bing moved the tournament to the Monterey Peninsula in 1947, where it remains today as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. 

 

Crosby was a founding partner in the Del Mar Racetrack, and a thoroughbred breeder and stable owner. He also became part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.

 

In addition, Crosby was a venture capitalist, playing a key role in the development of fast-freezing technology, which led to Crosby’s success tied to Minute Maid orange juice – as a spokesman and investor. He also invested in and helped develop magnetic recording tape technology, with this particular investment being driven by a desire to record his radio show.

 

For good measure, Crosby made investments in real-estate development, television stations and oil exploration.

 

Crosby also worked tirelessly entertaining the troops during World War II, was a philanthropist, and quietly supported friends over the years who ran into assorted troubles.

 

Bing Crosby lived a full life that touched millions of lives in positive ways. He truly ranked as a top entertainer and top entrepreneur.

 

By the way, Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas,” which was written by Irving Berlin, remains the top-selling song of all time.

 

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Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. Pre-order the latest thriller/mystery in the series – Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel – for the Kindle or signed books. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

 

Pre-order The Disney Planner 2021: The TO DO List Solution today!

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

 

Also, get the paperback or Kindle edition of Ray Keating’s new book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York.

 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Disney Offers Thanksgiving Night Special

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

November 25, 2020

 

Before you find yourself sinking into a turkey-induced coma, or perhaps because that is all you are capable of by the time the sun goes down on the holiday festivities, Disney is offering you an opportunity to relax with the family in front of their annual celebration of Disney magic. 



The fifth anniversary edition of The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration will be a bit different this year in its COVID-era, flashback style iteration. Rather than a live, park-streamed event, viewers will take a “wintry ride through fan-favorite performances from the past five years and new heartwarming family moments.”  The show airs Thanksgiving night (November 26) from 9-11 p.m (EST) on ABC, and will give families a chance to reminisce over some of the performances gracing previous holiday celebrations.

 

Professional dancers Derek and Julianne Hough (Dancing with the Stars) and Trevor Jackson (Freeform’s grown-ish) host the evening, and in traditional Disney fashion, viewers will also get to take a behind-the-scenes look into the parks between musical numbers, including a sneak peek at “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure,” scheduled to open in 2021 in EPCOT. Coincidentally, siblings Derek and Julianne Hough were the hosts of the original edition of the special five years ago.

 

There will also be a preview of Disney and Pixar’s upcoming feature film Soul, which will begin streaming on Christmas Day (December 25, 2020) on Disney+. Soul is the story of a middle-school band teacher who “teams up with a sarcastic new soul on a mission to figure out exactly what makes life worth living.” The lead characters are voiced by Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey.

 

According to Disney Parks Blog, the evening’s musical performances include:

 

  • Emmy® Award-winning hosts Derek Hough and Julianne Hough sing and dance through a medley of holiday classics in a fantastical new show open
  • GRAMMY® Award-winning singer/songwriter Ciara gives a festive spin on a “Jingle Bells/Jingle Bell Rock” medley (2017)
  • Multiple GRAMMY® Award-winner Kelly Clarkson belts her version of “Underneath The Tree” (2016)
  • Global superstar Jason Derulo performs his take on “Silent Night” (2017)
  • Grammy® Award-nominated OneRepublic perform a rocking rendition of “What a Wonderful World” (2016)
  • GRAMMY® Award-winner Meghan Trainor and CMA Award-winning country artist Brett Eldridge share a sweet rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (2018)
  • Grammy® Award-winning and multi-platinum-selling artist Pentatonix give their rendition of “Deck the Halls” (2019) 
  • TONY® Award-winning actress Idina Menzel joins fellow Frozen star Kristen Bell for a chilling performance of “When We’re Together” from Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017)
  • Boyz II Men take on “Let It Snow” alongside “December Baby” singer/songwriter JoJo (2016)
  • World renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli lends his voice to a rendition of “White Christmas” (2018)
  • GRAMMY Award-nominated artist Aloe Blacc performs “I Got Your Christmas Right Here (2018)
  • Global superstar Becky G performs “Santa Baby” (2018)
  • Following the release of his new album “Christmas in the Islands,” multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning global reggae/dancehall & pop music icon Shaggy sings “Jamaican Drummer Boy” (2019)

 

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Pre-order The Disney Planner 2021: The TO DO List Solution today!

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Rail Station Proposed For Disney Springs

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

November 24, 2020

 

It’s no secret that Central Florida is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Soon, all those visitors may have another way to get from the airport to the House of Mouse.

 


Brightline, a private passenger rail company, will need final local government approvals for the project, but together with Disney, it announced this week their agreement to build a new station at Disney Springs. The route will be part of a planned extension of the high-speed railway’s offerings to the airport. The railway can reach speeds up to 125 miles per hour.

 

According to Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline, “Brightline will offer a car-free connection to the millions of visitors from around the state and the world who plan to make Walt Disney World Resort part of their vacation plans. Our mission has always been to connect our guests to the people and places that matter, and Walt Disney World Resort is a tremendous example of this.”

 

The exact location and a potential start date for construction of the station have not been announced by either Disney or Brightline. But according to a release from Brightline, “The Brightline station is intended to provide a convenient travel option between Walt Disney World Resort and Brightline stations at Orlando International Airport (OIA), Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and planned stations in Aventura, Boca Raton and Port Miami. Brightline’s expansion from West Palm Beach to OIA is on track to be completed in 2022.” More than 170 miles of new track will be laid as part of the expansion.

 

The proposed station at Disney Springs includes a ground floor lobby, passenger facilities, and an upper level train platform. According to WESH, “They are currently in the design phase of the station to create the appearance and find out when the build will start.”

 

There are still hurdles to work out in the construction process, COVID notwithstanding. Brightline faces approvals processes with the Florida Department of Transportation, the Central Florida Expressway Authority and Orlando Utilities Commission. The construction of the new station at Disney Springs is contingent on those approvals.

 

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Pre-order The Disney Planner 2021: The TO DO List Solution today!

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Welcome Back, Park Hopping!

by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

November 21, 2020

 

When Disney World reopened in July after its COVID closure, one of the biggest disappointments for park guests was the suspension of Park Hopper passes. An add-on, paid feature to a guest’s park ticket or annual pass, “Park Hoppers” allowed visitors to enjoy more than one park in a single day.  



You could start your day in the Magic Kingdom, then head to the EPCOT restaurants for dinner.  Enjoy Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios, then head over for EPCOTs Food and Wine Festival. Ride Test Track in the morning at EPCOT, then explore the luminescent magic of Pandora at night in the Animal Kingdom. Guests could pack a whole lot more activities into their stay by jumping from park to park.

 

Yesterday (November 20), there was big news in Disney World as the resort continues expanding its offerings during its phased-in reopenings. Starting January 1, 2021, Disney is bringing back a modified Park Hopper option.  

 

After adding the Park Hopper option to their tickets, guests will still need to make reservations for their first park of the day, and physically go to that park and check in, enjoying what that park has to offer. After 2 p.m., however, they can then head to another Disney park of their choice, enjoying that park until closing without needing a second park reservation. (As January approaches, park hopping may potentially begin later than 2 p.m., so keep an eye on the My Disney Experience App for confirmation of start time.  Entrance to a second park will also be subject to that park’s capacity for the day.)

 

This news follows an announcement last week from Disney CEO Bob Chapek at Disney’s Quarterly earnings call that attendance limitations were increased from 25% capacity to 35% capacity as Disney heads into its traditionally busy holiday season.

 

Detailed information is available on the Park Hopper ticket options here. You can also check DisneyWorld.com/ParkHours and the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date Park Hopper hours as January approaches.


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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Pre-order The Disney Planner 2021: The TO DO List Solution today!

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Two Disney Leaders Inducted Into IAAPA Hall of Fame

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

November 20, 2020

 

IAAPA, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, met virtually at their Expo 2020 and education conference this week, and inducted three new members into the IAAPA Hall of Fame.  Two of those inductees were Disney trailblazers. This year’s inductees are Tony Baxter, Greg Hale and Mats Wedin.

 

The IAAPA Hall of Fame award “recognizes individuals who have made a lasting impact on the global attractions industry.” This year’s inductees join the ranks of such illustrious Hall of Fame members as Milton Hershey (the chocolate king responsible for Hersheypark); P.T. Barnum of the Barnum and Bailey Circus;  Alberto Zamperla of Zamperla  (ride manufacturer); and Walt Disney himself.

 

According to Michael Collins, 2020 chairman of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee, “The IAAPA Hall of Fame celebrates industry-changing leaders and we are proud to induct these leading-edge innovators into the Hall. Tony Baxter, Greg Hale and Mats Wedin are inspiring examples to everyone in the industry. They embody the ingenuity, creativity, passion, and leadership the attractions industry is known for and their contributions leave a lasting legacy.”



Disney Legend and Imagineer Tony Baxter is a well-known name in Disney fan-circles. He’s also rumored to be the inspiration for the character of Barnabas T. Bullion, the founder and president of the Big Thunder Mining Company at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Magic Kingdom. Bullion is also a noted member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A). His portrait hangs in the queue at Big Thunder.  Barnabas’ likeness to Tony Baxter is striking, but you can be the judge the next time you ride Big Thunder.  

 

Like many Disney creatives before him, Baxter started out among the front line cast members. In 1965, he was just 17 years old when he began serving up ice cream at Carnation Plaza Gardens on Main Street in Disneyland. He made his way to WED Enterprises, where his vision landed him a spot as executive vice president in charge of design for Disney Parks.  He and his creative team brought guests such iconic rides as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Snow White’s Adventure, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Star Tours, and Journey Into Imagination. He was also part of the master plan development for Disneyland Paris. He is currently returning from his sort-of retirement to Walt Disney Imagineering to work on the reimagination of Splash Mountain. Tony Baxter was named a “Disney Legend” in 2013.

 

Greg Hale may not be as instantly recognizable a name to Disney fans, but he certainly is just as responsible for creating the magic in the parks.  Hale began his career at Disney in 1988 as a manager of electrical and electronics engineering at Walt Disney World, moving up to become the first vice president and chief safety officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in 2002. His niche is in ride design and operations, and he holds more than 80 patents worldwide, including for the Disney FASTPASS service. IAAPA also cites Hale’s efforts to “develop designs to improve attraction accessibility, including assistive captioning technology seen today in Disney parks across the world, as well as at the World of Coca-Cola Museum, The Hall at Patriot Place in Massachusetts, the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Texas and several U.S. National Parks.” 

 

A leader in the efforts to improve amusement ride safety standards, Hale has also led IAAPA’s global safety standards harmonization initiatives, and has previously served as IAAPA’s chairman of the board.

 

Mats Wedin served as Volvo’s director of marketing before arriving at Liseberg Amusement Park in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he was influential in expanding the park, as well as developing Liseberg’s first Christmas event. The new Christmas programming extended the park’s operating season and attracted thousands of additional guests to the park each winter. As a result, many other European parks were inspired to add similar events to their calendars. Mats has served not only as a global ambassador for IAAPA, but as IAAPA’s 2007 chairman of the board.

 

If you would like to see the awards presentation in its entirety, as well as the honorees’ thoughtful responses, head over to IAAPA’s Vimeo stream here.

 

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Pre-order The Disney Planner 2021: The TO DO List Solution today!

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!