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Mary Niven

By Kimberly A. PorrazzoPublished: November 01, 2012

Vice president, Disney California Adventure and Guest Services
Disneyland Resort, Anaheim
Hot factor: Spearheaded the $1.2 billion renovation of Disney California Adventure to overwhelming success

If you listen very closely while following Mary Niven around during her workday, we’re pretty sure you’ll hear her whistling. Like that other Disney team – the seven dwarfs who whistled while they worked – Niven, a 12-year veteran of Disney, loves what she does. For Niven, vice president of Disney California Adventure, every day is a trip to the Magic Kingdom.
This year, however, she was under more pressure than usual. She led the team that delivered on the promise of a new Disney California Adventure – Disneyland Resort’s response to guests who said the original park was missing something. Her team clearly hit their target. The $1.2 billion renovation and expansion received global acclaim when it opened in June, and it has earned the distinction of 2012 Park of the Year, awarded by Amusement Today magazine.
“It’s a great honor to have the publisher select us as Theme Park of the Year,” says Niven. “It’s a recognition from within our industry of the efforts that have gone into the expansion.” More than providing an exciting day at the park, however, the expansion has helped fuel the local economy. More than 4,700 jobs are directly tied to the project. And since launching the expansion, more than $19 billion in economic activity has been generated – 75 percent right here in Orange County. Reports from Colliers PKF indicate that local hotels have booked more rooms than the previous year, with rates up 7 percent, putting prices near pre-recession levels.

“Disneyland has always been this economic engine for this region,” Niven says. “We believe in the future of Anaheim and Orange County, and so we have a desire to make sure whatever we create at Disneyland Resort enhances the region’s ability to drive tourism. It has been a tremendous honor to not only be part of the development, but part of the leadership of the expansion.”

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