September 27, 2002

So Long Paul

Some other news coming down the wire, on a distinctly non-Web front, is the announcement that Paul Pressler is leaving Disney and moving on to the Gap. This might raise a chorus of “Huh? Who” from the crowd, so a note of explanation is in order.

I’m kind of a closet Disney geek. Not the cartoons, mind you, not the movies, not the cable channel, not the media holdings, but the theme parks. Disneyland, in particular, and to a lesser extent the others scattered around the globe. I’ve dug into their history, I know how the rides works, when they were built, and the stories of the men who made them. And even though Michael Eisner has had a bullseye painted on his behind by many people in the Web world for his stance on copyright and the Berman bill, he’s a villian in my book for a different reason: single-handedly shoving Disneyland right down the crapper.

But more about that in a future post, maybe. This is about Paul Pressler, who, up until now, was Eisner’s right-hand man as far as the parks were concerned. As head of the theme parks division, he seemed to have very little power aside from being a yes man (and a fall guy) for Eisner. Pressler took a lot of the blame for the recent cost cutting measures, maintenance cutbacks, the lack of new attractions in the past seven years, and the lackluster quality of the new California Adventure park. Pressler became a villian by association, and because he was most often the spokesperson for change (or lack thereof) he was always the one singled out for attack for Disneyana fans. I never quite bought it though, and even though my perch here in Northern Nevada is far from Glendale, I tried to keep track of what was really going on in the halls of the Mouse. It seemed that Pressler was Moff Tarkin to Eisner’s Darth Vader: feared, but little more than a puppet. Now that he’s gone I don’t expect much of a change in the way the parks are run.

So Paul Pressler is off the head the Gap. It seems like a good move for him, from what I understand of his background. He built his reputation at Disney by running the Disney Stores, so this is a move back to retail and merchandising for him. And one thing I did notice when I visited DCA was that the most time and thought seemed to be put into designing the shops and restaurants, not the rides. That seems to be Pressler’s skill, his focus, and I think the Gap should do pretty well under his leadership.

As to what puppet will replace him, and when it will be Eisner’s time to go, that remains to be seen.

More from Jim Hill.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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