Photo: The New Face of Tom Staggs, Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts

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Or was that supposed to be The New Face of Disney Parks and Resorts, Chairman Tom Staggs?

Well, anyway, ever since we first learned the news that Tom Staggs (former CFO of the Walt Disney Company) and Jay Rasulo (former Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts) were going all Freaky Friday on us  (that’s the Jodie Foster kind if you will), the atmosphere quickly became thick with questions and theories about the future of the parks (oddly, not so much for the bottom line) and speculation that Staggs was being groomed by Iger for bigger and better things.

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Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Brings Imagineers and Their Creations, Future and Past, to D23 Expo

BURBANK, Calif., Aug. 3 — What will Disney’s theme parks and resorts look like in the future? Fans will learn the answer to that question and many more as they take a “behind-the-magic” tour of their favorite Disney destinations at the inaugural D23 EXPO, where the entire world of Disney will come together under one roof at the Anaheim Convention Center in California from Sept. 10-13.

Through a series of stunning displays and not-to-be-missed presentations, D23 EXPO attendees will explore the rich legacy and future of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts – a story that began in 1955 with Disneyland and has since grown to include 11 theme parks at five vacation destinations around the globe, as well as new immersive vacation experiences including Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Disney Vacation Club. On Saturday, Sept. 12, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo will share some behind-the-magic details as he pulls back the curtain on several new projects – including the 12-acre Cars Land that’s set to open at Disney’s California Adventure in 2012.

Here’s a sampling of exciting Disney Parks experiences that D23 EXPO attendees will discover:

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A Look at Washington’s D.C. (That’s Disney Connections)

The internet’s all abuzz with the recent announcement that Disney has invested in some land in the National Harbor project with intentions of building a hotel right outside DC. The truth is that Disney has a long track record of promoting tourism not just to its own parks, but nationwide, and that especially includes our nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

In order to promote United States visitorship abroad, Disney produced and donated a seven-minute, cross-country odyssey that tells the story of American hospitality and friendship, through the faces of this country’s greatest asset – its people. The $2.5M video is currently shown to foreign visitors at 105 American consular and embassy offices worldwide, at several of the nation’s busiest international airports (including Dulles International) and even onboard various airlines on their way to the United States.

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With National Harbor Land Purchase, Mr. Mouse May be Going to Washington (Area)

Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo with Milton V. Peterson, chairman of the Peterson CompaniesNATIONAL HARBOR, MD (May 19, 2009) – The Peterson Companies announced today the sale of land at its National Harbor development near Washington, DC to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Disney is considering using the 15-acre site overlooking the Potomac River in National Harbor, MD as the location for a resort hotel for families and others visiting the National Capital Region.

“We’re thrilled Disney has decided to invest in National Harbor,” said Milton V. Peterson, chairman of the Peterson Companies. “Disney is the top family entertainment company in the world, and its purchase is a great vote of confidence in the future of National Harbor and the Washington area as a top family tourism destination.”

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Disney Parks Chairman Jay Rasulo Testifies Before Senate in Support of Travel Promotion Act

Jay Rasulo, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts © Gene Duncan/Disney

Jay Rasulo, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts © Gene Duncan/Disney

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 14, 2009 — Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman, Jay Rasulo appeared on Capitol Hill this week to communicate his strong support on behalf of the Travel Promotion Act.  The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, seeks to create a nonprofit entity that would execute a nationally coordinated travel promotion program encouraging more people to visit the United States.

Appearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion, Rasulo told the body that, in addition to having a much easier, user-friendly entry process, the United States would greatly benefit by the creation of travel promotional entity that could speak with one voice, to welcome those who have avoided visiting the U.S. since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and more recently, because of the effects of the economic recession.

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