By Andy Guinigundo
The last few weeks I have been posting Halloween stories, well, because ‘tis the season! As a result, I have a few weeks of backlogged updates to report this week. We’ll travel to Singapore, Africa, and then back home to the USA.
Universal to Get Dreamworks Madagascar and Shrek Attractions
Universal Studios Singapore announced that it will house the first Madagascar theme park attraction. Madagascar: A Crate Adventure is touted as a “mega-attraction” that will open in early 2010. The ride will be an indoor boat ride that will feature favorite characters from the movie. No doubt they’ll re-assert the fact that they “like to move it, move it”.
Far Far Away Castle from the Shrek movies is also coming Universal Singapore. The castle will include Shrek 4-D, Donkey Live, and Magic Potion Spin. The attractions will represent the biggest collection of Dreamworks Animation attractions in the world. These Singapore exclusives seem to be a trend. It was announced last year that Universal Singapore would be the first to get a Transformers attraction in 2011 a few months before Universal Hollywood. Universal Singapore is slated to open its doors in the first quarter of 2010.
Six Flags Nigeria?
Nigeria, Africa? Rumor? No, Six Flags confirmed in a press release in September that they have formed a strategic partnership with the Cross River State Government (CRSG) in Calabar Cross River State Nigeria. Under the agreement, Six Flags will provide concept development and master planning services for the creation of a Six Flags branded theme park. Further, after the initial stages, Six Flags will collaborate with the CRSG in design, development, construction, and management of the area. The park will occupy approximately 250 acres. It is scheduled to open in 2013.
This would appear to be a bold move by a company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June and whose stock is trading at less than .25¢ per share since that time. Perhaps bold moves are what they need; hopefully, it’s the right bold move.
Disneyland President Ed Grier Retires, replacement named
Ed Grier has been the president of Disneyland Resort in California since July 2006. Effective Oct. 9, he retired from that position and the Walt Disney Company after over 25 years of service to the company. Prior to his tenure at Disneyland, he held positions at Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World in Florida including Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios.
Grier’s unexpected retirement announcement comes on the heels of Disney Studios Chairman and 38-year Disney Company veteran Dick Cook’s resignation on Sept. 18. This has fueled speculation that both Grier’s retirement and Cook’s resignation were not entirely voluntary. Officially, this is not the case.
George Kalogridis has been named the president of the Disneyland Resort. Kalogridis, who started with Disney 38 years ago as a busboy at the Contemporary Resort, is returning to the Disneyland Resort, where he served from 2000 to 2002 as senior vice president of operations during the resort’s first expansion project – the opening of Disney’s California Adventure. Kalogridis joins the Disneyland Resort after most recently serving as chief operating officer for Disneyland Resort Paris
Rich Ross was announced as the new president of Walt Disney Studios. Ross was the former head of Disney Channels Worldwide. Ross is credited with the growth of Disney Channels to a total of 94 channels and channel feeds available in 163 countries in 32 languages. Ross is a 13-year Disney employee.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.