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Paul Pressler is a partner at the New York- and London-based private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. He has been president and CEO of Gap, Inc. and chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and a director of Avon Products Inc., Overture Acquisition Corporation, OpenTable,
A New York native, Pressler received a bachelor's degree in business economics from the State University of New York in Oneonta, New York. He then worked as vice president of design and marketing for Kenner-Parker Toys; and then for 15 years with The Walt Disney Company, first as president of Disneyland, president of the Disney Store chain, and senior vice president of Disney Licensing and then as chairman of the Parks and Resorts division.
Pressler was the president and CEO of Gap, Inc. from September 2002 to 22 January 2007. He also served on the company's Board of Directors.
The Walt Disney Company
The Disney Store
Pressler joined the Disney Store as president in 1993. The store opened up hundreds of new shops all over the world and was making larger profits for the company than Walt Disney Feature Animation at one point. In 1994, Pressler was appointed president of the company's Disneyland theme park. He led the team developing the property into a two-park, three-hotel resort.
In 1996, Pressler oversaw a major expansion, including the opening of the new Disney California Adventure theme park; a new hotel, Disney's Grand Californian; the remodeling of an existing hotel, Paradise Pier; a new retail, dining and entertainment complex called Downtown Disney; and a new multi-story parking area. The new park and hotels opened in early 2001, and the entire complex was named the Disneyland Resort.
In 1996, Pressler approved a $100 million change to one of Disneyland's attraction areas, called Tomorrowland. This change included several new attractions and an updated 'Jules Verne' theme for the area.
During his tenure as president the theme parks saw record profits, and various changes were made to the theme park's merchandise and operations. California Adventure consistently underperformed corporate and public expectations, and in November 2007, Disney announced an over $1 billion overhaul to enhance and expand the original park. Profits also came at the expense of maintenance as light bulbs, landscapes and fixtures went unchanged or ignored, But Pressler did push through a period of record profits for the Disney theme park division. However, after the September 11 attacks in 2001 (shortly after California Adventure opened), tourism to the resort had dropped.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Pressler was promoted to lead Disney's worldwide resorts division Disney Cruise Line, the Disneyland Resort, the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort Paris, and to encourage negotiations with the government of Hong Kong over the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. His time as head of the Parks and Resorts division is controversial among fans of the company and its theme parks.
A long-time supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Pressler served on the organization's Greater Los Angeles board of directors from 1994–2002 and on the national board of directors from 2002- 2009.
- Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Web site
- Avon corporate Web site
- United States Securities and Exchange Commission
- OpenTable Web site
- Company press release, 22 January 2007
- Disney To Build $1.4 Billion California Adventure
- Disneyland to Introduce Fast Ride at $100 Million Tomorrowland
- Disneyland Launching New Merchandising Strategy
- Tourism Slump Puts Disney's Theme Parks on Roller Coaster