Replacing Karl Holz, who announced his departure eight months ago, Philippe Gas has effectively assumed the position of “president” of Disneyland Resort Paris, alongside Ed Grier of Disneyland Resort in California, Meg Crofton of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Toshio Kagami of Tokyo Disney Resort and Bill Ernest of Hong Kong Disneyland. Holz is now president of New Vacation Operations at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

The operating company, known more casually amongst fans as simply “Euro Disney SCA” or “Euro Disney”, to avoid the lengthy exposition of the group’s complicated structure seen above, released a quick biography of our new CEO:

Philippe Gas

Philippe, 45, is the first CEO of Disneyland Resort Paris who was a member of the opening team. As a 17-year Disney veteran, Philippe has extensive experience with both Euro Disney and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts worldwide. After having completed his law studies at the University of Paris Assas, he joined the Disney organization in 1991 as Finance Controller and held a variety of positions at the Resort over the next six years. In 1997, he was promoted to Director, Corporate Compensation and moved to The Walt Disney Company headquarters in Burbank, California. In 2000, he served as Regional Vice President, Human Resources, The Walt Disney Company Asia-Pacific, overseeing the HR strategy in 13 countries in Asia – first based in Tokyo and then in Hong Kong.

In 2004, he returned to Disneyland Resort Paris as Senior Vice President, Human Resources, where he was responsible for all HR Operations for its more than 12,300 cast members. In 2005 he was appointed Senior Vice President, International Human Resources, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and in 2006, he was promoted to his current position as Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts worldwide. In this role, he was responsible for the Human Resources strategy and services for nearly 100,000 Cast Members.

The official corporate website also posted an interview with Philippe, with comments from Gas about his recent work for Disney, his priorities at Disneyland Resort Paris and — most exciting of all — his plans for the future:

Question: You have returned to Disneyland® Resort Paris after working several years abroad for Disney. What is it like?

Philippe Gas: I am proud to return to Disneyland Resort Paris, the place where it all started for me. I joined the Disney organization in 1991 and was a member of the opening team at Disneyland Resort Paris. In Paris, the United States and Asia, I have held a variety of positions, notably in defining global human resource strategies. I have learned a lot from my international experience, but Disneyland Resort Paris has always held a special place in my heart. I am happy to be back and to see how much the Resort and its more than 13,000 Cast Members have developed over the years. It is our Cast Members who provide the service and ensure the high quality experience for which Disney is known. I am glad to lead our efforts in building the Resort’s future.

Question: Disneyland Resort Paris is the #1 tourist destination in Europe. What are your priorities in the next years?

Philippe Gas: It is a particularly exciting time for Disneyland Resort Paris, optimistic and dynamic. I am grateful to join such a great international team. Together, we are committed to the company’s long-term strategy and growth as Europe’s top tourist destination. We will keep working on driving results towards profitability, providing a high-quality guest experience, and investing in the personal and professional development of our Cast Members. I have had the chance to grow within this company and I hope this will inspire others.

Question: What are your future projects?

Philippe Gas: Imagining, creating, developing and growing is, and always will be, top of mind for us. We have already served, entertained and touched the hearts of more than 200 million visitors. We intend to continue exceeding expectations to remain Europe’s most-visited tourist destination. We would like to welcome more and more families, by continuing to grow and provide the quality and creativity that only Disney can create. That’s why we are always innovating and working on future development. We are studying a variety of projects – some would enhance exciting assets, while others are on a grander scale. For example, we are interested in increasing the Resort’s hotel capacity, adding to our convention facilities, or enhancing the Disney® Village. We work and plan all the time – today, tomorrow, and for the years to come.

The thoughts of increasing hotel capacity, enhancing Disney Village and adding to convention facilities are all expertly-worded in order to give an impression of the company’s priorities yet not officially announce a single thing. “Increasing” hotel capacity, for example, may not technically mean new hotels, nor might “enhancing” Disney Village mean constructing new buildings.

The years of Karl Holz brought the resort huge prosperity and several brilliant new attractions, with a quite remarkable return to the kind of Disney quality and service we remembered from earlier years.

However, the resort and its parks are not quite in the home straight just yet. And, as we head into 2009 with the two-year 15th Anniversary coming to a close and the impending challenge of a successful follow-up to contend with, we can only wish Philippe Gas the best of luck — and hope, beyond the business ability, he has the same dream in his heart as we do…

— The official statement from the company can be found here (PDF).

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