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Discovering the Magic Within

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

When George A. Kalogridis joined the original team at Walt Disney World as it exploded upon the Central Florida landscape in 1971, he was thrilled and inspired to be a busboy for a company that was expanding its horizons, fulfilling its highest potential and making an indelible impact upon the community. With his education at Polk State College (then known as Polk Junior College), George discovered the power within himself to become part of that magical accomplishment. Read about how George soared to exhilarating new heights.

George A. Kalogridis

George A. Kalogridis is a 1971 graduate of Winter Haven High School who received his Associate in Arts degree in 1973 from what was then Polk Junior College. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Central Florida in 1976. Since October 2009, George has served as President of Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. George oversees a workforce of 20,000 cast members at Disneyland Resort, the largest employer in Orange County, California. He received the Polk State College Distinguished Alumnus Award in December 2010.

George’s grandfather came to Winter Haven from Greece in the 1930s. His father, Tony, ran Tony’s Pharmacy for many years. George has two brothers, one sister, and several nieces and nephews who currently live in the Winter Haven area. While George worked and paid his own way through Polk Junior College, he considered an out-of-state move to continue his studies. At that same time, something was happening that would change life in Central Florida forever. Walt Disney World was preparing to open in Orlando. George was hired as a busboy for the Contemporary Resort, and he was part of the original team that opened the park on October 1, 1971.

Just a few of the many positions George has held in his 39-year career with the company are: General Manager of the Grand Floridian Beach Resort, Vice President of EPCOT, Senior Vice President of Operations at the Disneyland Resort, Vice President of Travel Operations, and most recently he served for three years as the Chief Operating Officer of the Disneyland Resort Paris. While serving as the Vice President of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, he led the Millennium Celebration for the Walt Disney Company.  During this company-wide celebration, George was responsible for creating relationships with key community and business leaders from the 50 countries that were represented at Epcot during the Millennium Celebration.

George serves on the board of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County in California and recently served as the Honorary Chair of the 2010 Gala for Orange County’s Pacific Symphony.