DISNEY PULLS THE PLUG ON THEME PARK IN HAYMARKET
Last night The Walt Disney Co. killed plans to build
Disney's America in Northern VA's Prince William County,
"apparently after deciding that an unexpected national debate"
over its proposal "was hurting the company's image." Although
Disney was on its way to "gaining final zoning approval" for the
project, company execs "decided over the weekend that the
prolonged and increasingly ugly fight could permanently damage
Disney's valuable corporate image." Disney Design and
Development Pres. Peter Rummell: "Implicit in our vision for the
park is the hope that it will be a source of pride and unity for
all Americans. We certainly cannot let a particular site
undermine that goal by becoming a source of divisiveness" (Baker
& Hsu, WASHINGTON POST, 9/29). Disney will hold a news
conference later today.
REAX FROM "GRIM" GOVERNOR: After a surprise meeting last
night with park GM Mark Pacala and Disney Senior VP Robert Shinn,
VA Gov. George Allen -- Disney's most "enthusiastic cheerleader"
-- "emerged looking ashen and grim" and issued a terse statement:
"I'm committed to a Disney theme park in Virginia and the jobs
that will be created thereby. I'm pleased that The Walt Disney
Company shares that commitment" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/29).
DISNEY MANAGEMENT CHANGES: Disney also announced that
Pacala is leaving the company and that John Cooke, president of
the Disney Cable Channel, will now also serve as chair of the
theme park. Dana Nottingham, the park's development director,
will now be its president (WASHINGTON POST, 9/29).