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Disney in No Hurry to Name Replacement

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Disney Chairman Michael D. Eisner on Wednesday said the entertainment giant is in no hurry to replace Disneyland President Jack Lindquist when he retires, as Lindquist has agreed to stay on as a company consultant.

“There is no urgency in filling his shoes,” Eisner said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s not retiring. He will still be a consultant with us five years after he can’t walk anymore.”

A Disneyland veteran of 38 years, Lindquist announced Wednesday that he will retire as the theme park’s first and only president on Nov. 18, which is Mickey Mouse’s 65th birthday.

“He really is the person who, over the years, brought many of the creative ideas to Disney. He in part created the idea of a park that’s themed,” Eisner said. “More than just understanding the Disney culture, he understands the big idea.”

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Joining the Walt Disney Co. as an advertising manager in 1955, Lindquist has played a key role in planning the proposed $3-billion Disneyland Resort expansion and in creating the Mighty Ducks hockey team, of which he is chairman. He is also chief executive of the Walt Disney Travel Co. and president of the Magic Kingdom Club. It is unclear who will succeed Lindquist in his various jobs.

“I don’t think we’re prepared to announce that yet,” said Eisner, who would only say that Lindquist, 66, has entered into a contract to stay on with Disney as a consultant.

Frank G. Wells, Disney president, said Lindquist would remain key executive with the Anaheim theme park forever, calling him “Mr. Disneyland.”

In the Disney hierarchy, Lindquist’s boss is Judson C. Green, president of Walt Disney Attractions, the division that controls the $7.5-billion corporation’s four theme parks. His boss is Richard A. Nunis, chairman of the attractions division, who is based in Orlando, Fla.

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The two top officials at the park are Norm Doerges, executive vice president of Disneyland, who earlier had been mentioned as a contender for Lindquist’s post, and Ron Dominguez, executive vice president of Walt Disney Attractions, who has been with the park since it opened.

Company spokesman John McClintock said the company would not discuss likely candidates to succeed Lindquist.

“There’s been so much speculation on that,” said McClintock. “I just can’t say.”

Several analysts who follow the company, including Harold Vogel, an analyst for Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York, predicted that the change of command would not affect Disney’s stock prices, which closed Wednesday at $38 a share on the New York Stock Exchange. Vogel said Lindquist’s likely successors would probably be young executives found in the lower part of upper management. He would not suggest any names.

“Which young turk they’re going to put up there, I don’t know,” said Lee Isgur, an analyst with Volpe, Welty & Co.( in San Francisco.

In the local corporate hierarchy, 11 vice presidents fall under Doerges and Dominguez and could also be considered as candidates for Lindquist’s job.

They are: John Cora, vice president of operations; Hideao Amemiya, vice president Disneyland Hotel; Byron Pollitt, vice president of business planning; Bob Risteen, vice presdent of finance; Bob Phelps, vice president of costuming; Keith Kamback, vice president of recreation; Mark Feary, vice president of sales; Bob McTyre, vice president of attractions; Dale Burner, vice president of facilities; Rick Clair, vice president of the legal division, and Dave Cox, vice president of human resources.


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