Walt Disney World's Phil Holmes to retire August 2020

May 06, 2020 in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Wednesday May 6, 2020 9:01am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Phil Holmes will be retiring from the Walt Disney World Resort in August 2020 after almost 50 years with the company.

Phil started in 1971 during the construction of the Magic Kingdom and his roles at the parks have included everything from an attractions Cast Member at the Haunted Mansion to Vice President at Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom. He mostly recently oversaw the opening of Star Wars Galaxy's Edge as VP Disney's Hollywood Studios.

“Phil has had a tremendous impact on Walt Disney World Resort during his nearly 50-year career. His legacy will be his outstanding leadership and passion for the guest and Cast experience”, said Walt Disney World president Josh D’Amaro. “We’ll miss him, but we’re thrilled he will be with us through August, and we’ll be sure to celebrate his countless accomplishments before his departure.”

Discuss on the Forums
View all comments →

PuertoRekinSamJul 15, 2020

New vp is Jackie Swisher

The Empress LillyMay 24, 2020

I do believe this is how Baxter's portrait came about too. A tribute decades later by a new generation. But I'm too lazy to look that up. Beyond creatives, executives have tributes too. Precedents to Holmes' 'doggy syndrome' painting (doges too love to mark where they've been...) could be naming the Liberty Belle ship the Richard F. Irvine. Or Meg Crofton's MS window. I must confess I find the Irvine sign less grating than the Holmes and Crofton tributes, but I can't identify why. I hate to be found out as just a petty traditionalist, but not enough to invent an intellectually dishonest trivial distinction.

lazyboy97oMay 24, 2020

Using the name or likeness of a fellow Imagineer versus an executive. A prominent example would be Joe Rhode as the model for Harrison Hightower. He wasn’t part of the Tower of Terror design team nor was he any sort of gatekeeper for projects at Tokyo DisneySEA. That’s how a lot of these things started, a name on something that would have one adds realism and using the name of someone you know is an easy way to have a name instead of pun or something else.

peter11435May 24, 2020

All but one of the examples I gave were tributes installed while the respective honoree was still in their role.

LilofanMay 24, 2020

He's that influential to be honored while still working! That's impressive.

Animaniac93-98May 24, 2020

Phil Holmes was still working at MK when his portrait went up.

The Empress LillyMay 24, 2020

What do you mean? I'm afraid the reference is lost on me.

lazyboy97oMay 24, 2020

I think there is a big difference when it is your coworker.

TrojanUSCMay 24, 2020

Lee's a really nice guy and did a lot of good in terms of cast empowerment and some other things. What he did not do well was a lot of the homogenization across property, which basically watered down the restaurants, resorts and other guest facing areas from each having their own identity to just being kind of part of, essentially, a "chain."

Animaniac93-98May 24, 2020

In hindsight, it's surprising WDI hasn't put up a life-size bronze statue of Lilly somewhere on Disney property a la Walt and Roy. Not that I'm suggesting they should, it's just the kind of (literal) corporate myth building they'd do.

the.dreamfinderMay 24, 2020

Lee Cockerell, Dan’s father, was one of the main architects in the watering down of Walt Disney World.

LilofanMay 23, 2020

Cockerell retired at 49 to begin his consulting business in which he travels the world as a motivational speaker. He should have kept working.

The Empress LillyMay 23, 2020

Yes, fair points. Frankly I also find the big Baxter portrait in Thunder a bit much. 2010s Disney. Although Baxter, too, is both an aimiable man and a vain one who knows how to work corporate culture and sell himself. Tributes easily turn into vanity. Naming the trains and ships, MS windows, using relatives as models - these retain an air of restraint. The Empress Lilly takes Lillian Disney's name, but there's no lifesize statue of her in front. I'm not sure where, if at all, there is a line. Maybe a matter of subjective taste.

peter11435May 23, 2020

Thats really not the only option. Is that your takeaway from Joe Rohde being featured in the haunted mansion? or Joe Lanzisero being in Roger Rabbit cartoon spin? what about the windows on Main Street? Castaway Cay signage, haunted mansion tombstones... They’ve done these sort of tributes for years.