Disney announced Jeff Vahle, a 28-year veteran of Disney, has been named president of Disney Signature Experiences, which includes Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, Adventures by Disney and Aulani, a Disney Resort in Hawaii.
Jeff takes the helm at Disney Cruise Line at a time when it is poised for significant growth with the delivery of three new ships in 2021, 2022 and 2023, all of them showcasing the immersive family entertainment, enhanced storytelling and unparalleled service that only Disney can deliver. Since its launch in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has established itself as the leader in the family cruise industry, sailing from ports around the world on exhilarating itineraries to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Europe, Alaska, Hawaii and the Mexican Riviera, among others.
“There is tremendous opportunity to deliver magical Disney vacation experiences in new and exciting ways,” said Bob Chapek, chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products. “Jeff is a talented leader with a strong track record of success and I’m excited to see what he and the team will accomplish together.”
In his new role, Jeff also leads Disney Vacation Club, the company’s popular vacation-ownership program offering a portfolio of 14 themed resorts, from its newest property, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, to properties across Walt Disney World Resort, at Disneyland Resort and in Vero Beach, Fla. and Hilton Head Island, S.C. The proposed Disney’s Riviera Resort, slated to be the 15th Disney Vacation Club property, is expected to open in fall 2019.
Additionally, Jeff oversees Adventures by Disney, the company’s guided group travel business, which brings the world’s most magical destinations to life on nearly 40 itineraries across 30 countries, as well as sales at Golden Oak, the company’s luxury whole-ownership community of custom homes at Walt Disney World Resort.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to be part of an incredible team that makes magic for millions of guests every day at Disney destinations around the world,” said Vahle. “I look forward to leading this creative, dedicated and hardworking team as we build on the success of these businesses during this unprecedented era of growth and innovation.”
Jeff also will continue to lead the Global Facilities Operations and Sourcing and Procurement teams, which focus on providing a safe, reliable and high-quality show environment at Disney theme parks and resorts around the world. He began his career with Walt Disney World in 1990.
Jeff is a graduate of Auburn University, with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and holds a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College. He is active in the Central Florida community and currently serves as chairman of the board of directors for Give Kids the World.
This announcement explains a late-March rumor about a leadership change at DCL, which I left unpublished. Although, I was able to confirm the report, I decided it was best to let a leadership change at Disney Cruise Line under wraps until an official announcement was made.
Coinciding with the rumor that now, former President of Disney Cruise Line, Anthony Connelly was no longer with the company just months after taking over for retiring Karl Holz a mysterious edit on March 24th changing “is the President” to “was the President” on March 24th to Connelly’s Wikipedia page with a note: “Mr. Connelly is no longer in this role, let alone working for Disney.”
Little is know about Connelly’s sudden departure at this time, but based on today’s announcement it appears there was a bit of restructuring at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts with Jeff Vahle being named President of Disney Signature Experiences which includes Disney Cruise Line among other vacation aspects of the company rather than assuming Connelly’s former title, President of New Vacation Operations and Disney Cruise Line.