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Djuan Rivers

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Djuan Rivers
EducationBA in Economics
Alma materEmory University
Occupation(s)(Fmr) Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Djuan Rivers was the Vice President of Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World from 2014 until May of 2021. He previously served as Vice President for Hotels and Business Solutions at Disneyland Paris after having been General Manager of the Disney Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii. He was one of the most senior African Americans in the Walt Disney Company during his tenure.


Djuan Rivers (born 1965) is an Orlando native and attended Emory University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1987.

Career with the Walt Disney Company[edit]

Rivers is a 30-year veteran of the Walt Disney Company and one of the Executive Champions of the Disney VoluntEARS program. Having started at an entry level managerial position, he worked his way up to become the General Manager of Disney's Wilderness Lodge. He subsequently was the Hotel Director for the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder cruise ships. Rivers went on to hold a number of executive positions within Disney, and he helped lead the opening of six resorts in Florida and three resorts at Disneyland Paris. In 2005, he was named Vice President of Downtown Disney in Florida. In 2007, he was named the Vice President for New Business Development for Disney’s Parks and Resorts division.[1][2]

In 2008, he was made the Vice President of Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa, making him one of the most senior African-Americans in the Walt Disney Company. In addition to overseeing the $800,000,000 construction project, Rivers was also charged with building ties with local communities and government officials along with learning about the native Hawaiian culture, in order to authentically integrate it into the resort.[3][4][5] Rivers also committed to incorporating environmentally friendly initiatives into the resort's design and construction.[6] In 2012, Rivers was appointed Vice President for Hotels and Business Solutions at Disneyland Paris.[7]

In 2014, Rivers was appointed to the position of Vice President of Disney's Animal Kingdom.[8] Rivers first launched Animal Kingdom's newer "after dark" attractions, including the "Rivers of Light" show[9] and evening lighting on the Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Tree of Life.[10] He then worked to complete and launched the popular Pandora–The World of Avatar area of the theme park in 2017,[11] which opened to excellent reviews and won awards for the visual effects. [12]

Djuan Rivers speaking before his name is engraved on Main Street USA.

In August of 2021, Djuan Rivers was honored by having his name engraved onto a storefront window on Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom; he is the first African-American to receive such an honor.[13][14]


Rivers serves on the Board of Directors of the Child & Family Service charity of Hawaii and the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii.[15]

He is known for being an avid sportsman, as he is attempting to climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent.[16] In October 2008, Rivers was one of the first people to participate in a HALO skydive over Mount Everest, incidentally making him the first African-American to do so.[17]

In August of 2019, Rivers explained to the Orlando Sentinel how his travels to Nepal and his climbing of the real Mount Everest helped inspire his love of the Disney attraction Expedition Everest, which incorporates dozens of artifacts and designs from the real life adventure. [18]

In January of 2021, Rivers announced that he would be retiring from the Disney Company in May of that year. He said that he would be moving to Paris and that he hopes to spend his retirement traveling the world, which is his other great passion, having visited over 70 countries so far.[19][20]


  1. ^ Orlando Sentinel: Disney Names Exec to Lead Hawaii Resort Archived October 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ New Window on Main Street Honors Phil Holmes, Trevor Larsen, Jim MacPhee, and Djuan Rivers
  3. ^ "Disney Resort Taking Shape on Oahu; Expects to Invest $800 million, Employ 1,000 / October 2009". www.hotel-online.com. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  4. ^ "The Walt Disney Company". The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  5. ^ "Yesterland Side Trip: Disney Ko Olina, Hawai'i: a Closer Look". www.yesterland.com. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  6. ^ Traveling Mom: Disney's Aulani for a Hawaiian Experience Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Djuan Rivers Bloomberg Profile
  8. ^ "Djuan Rivers – Disney News Today". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  9. ^ Disney's Animal Kingdom to Explore Its After Dark Side
  10. ^ How New Lighting on the Savannah Gave Animal Kingdom Nightlife.
  11. ^ Tribou, Richard. "What we know about 'Avatar'-inspired Pandora coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  12. ^ Orlando Business Journal: Walt Disney World's Newest Marquee Ride Gets Theme Park Industry Accolades
  13. ^ Phil Holmes, Trevor Larsen, Jim MacPhee, and Djuan Rivers Receive Main Street Window Dedication at Magic Kingdom
  14. ^ New Window on Main Street Honors Phil Holmes, Trevor Larsen, Jim MacPhee, and Djuan Rivers
  15. ^ "Child & Family Services of Hawaii: Board of Directors". Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  16. ^ Urban Land Institute: Djuan Rivers Biography Archived July 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Skydive, Everest (2008-10-07). "First Everest Skydive 2008 - Updates - 7th October". Everest Skydive. Archived from the original on 2019-04-16. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  18. ^ Orlando Sentinel: Disney’s Animal Kingdom VP and his Peak Performance
  19. ^ Orlando Sentinel: Disney: Djuan Rivers, VP of Animal Kingdom, Retiring
  20. ^ Spectrum News 13: Djuan Rivers, VP of Animal Kingdom, to Retire

External links[edit]