New Chief to Lead Disney’s Resort Plans in Anaheim


Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday appointed David L. Malmuth to head its Disneyland Resort theme park project.

Malmuth, 39, becomes the third development chief of the Anaheim project in just over a year. He succeeds Kenneth Wong, who was named executive vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering, the Glendale-based division that designs attractions for Disney’s theme parks.

Malmuth, who is vice president in charge of Disney Development Co.'s California operations, already manages projects ranging from the new Feature Animation building in Burbank to the renovation of the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York.

With his added title, he will also be responsible for development of Disneyland Resort, a $3-billion project that proposes building an internationally themed amusement park, called Westcot, next to Disneyland and adding thousands of hotel rooms in the vicinity.


Disneyland Resort, announced in 1991, fell behind schedule during the recession, and officials at Disney and the city of Anaheim now say they expect to scale back their initial plans. “We are trying to look at all kinds of possibilities,” Malmuth said.

Malmuth, a Long Beach resident, joined Disney’s development arm in 1988 and became project manager for a theme park project dubbed DisneySeas that was to have been built near the Queen Mary.

Disney Chairman Michael Eisner was reportedly enthralled with the plan, which would have created an ocean-themed amusement park on the Long Beach waterfront, as well as hotels and parks. But the project was scrapped in favor of Westcot after environmentalists and Long Beach residents raised objections.

Since then, the Disneyland Resort project has languished amid doubts about whether enough tourists would visit the new theme park to make it economically feasible. Also, the financial difficulties of France’s Euro Disneyland--now called Disneyland Paris--have forced Disney to rethink its expansion plans.


Disneyland Resort’s first project chief, Kerry Hunnewell, resigned in December, 1993. Wong took over then but divided his time between Anaheim and the Far East, where he has been scouting for potential theme park locations.

Malmuth said he hopes to apply in Anaheim what he learned in Long Beach.

That experience, he said, “taught me that all the elements of the project have to fit together. The community has to be on board, the economics have to work, and it has to be a creative home run.”