It All Started With A Mouse
Barry Jacobson has always had hospitality and guest experience as part of his DNA, from as early as watching his mother host large gatherings at his childhood home to his first role with Disney as a Recreation Host (lifeguard). After spending 37 years with the Walt Disney Company and as a senior executive, Barry has now embarked on his next chapter, consulting and sharing his experiences and knowledge of Disney culture, brand, leadership, hospitality and customer experience.
Barry is originally from Windsor Locks, Connecticut and moved to Orlando at age 14. During his high school years, he was a competitive swimmer and still enjoys the sport today. Barry received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from the University of Central Florida and his MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Barry spent 15 years in Resort Operations for the Walt Disney World Resort. He was immersed in hotel operations including Resident Manager and Food and Beverage Manager at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, along with front office operations, concierge, housekeeping and recreation. His various roles landed him at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, The Disney Inn and Fort Wilderness Campground.
Following this, Barry spent 16 years in the Sales and Marketing division. In 1994, he became the Manager of Special Events and Participant Services and was also the acting Manager and Director of Convention Services at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Promoted to Director of Event Management in 1998, Barry’s responsibilities included Event Management for Walt Disney World and The Walt Disney Company including Cast Member and executive events, Group and Convention Tradeshows, Disney’s Fairytale Weddings, Alliance Partner functions, and Park and Event Catering for the Walt Disney World Resort.
“This was a great time in my career,” relates Barry. “I was part of the team that led many high-profile events for our company and cast members, including Cast Member Recognition, the Walt Disney Company’s annual shareholders meetings, board of director’s and investor conferences, marketing press events, and theme park and resort grand openings all over the world.” Among his career highlights, Barry was selected to serve on the Grand Opening Teams for Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, and the launch of the Disney Cruise Line.
When asked about one of his most exciting assignments, Barry says, “The quintessential pinnacle event was being selected as the General Manager for the D23 Expo, Disney’s first-ever fan exposition. This special event was designed exclusively for Disney fans, and attracted more than 30,000 participants. It was exciting to be on the ground floor.” As a result of its kickoff and success, Barry was recognized and honored by Event Solutions magazine as the 2010 Corporate Planner/Producer of the Year. The D23 Expo has continued to be a thriving platform for ‘everything Disney’.
Barry was recruited away from Disney and went from the finest name in family entertainment to the greatest name in sports entertainment for America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys. This next career milestone moved him to Dallas, TX in 2010 to join Legends Hospitality Management as the Vice President of Special Events for the Dallas Cowboys Football Club, overseeing all premium services for suites, private clubs, and corporate/stadium wide events. This included being a part of the team that hosted Superbowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium.
Barry’s career has also included other notable companies. He was General Manager with ClubCorp, Director of Convention and Conference Management at Venetian and Palazzo Resort for the Sands Corporation, and Director of Events and Education for Meeting Professionals International (MPI).
Fast forward to 2012. Barry accepted the role of General Manager for Disney’s Golden Oak – a private, luxury, residential community located on Walt Disney World property. He was responsible for providing leadership to a team that managed the operations of the community, non-residential associations, facility maintenance, resident concierge-level services, resident interactions and experiences, private transportation, exclusive dining, special events, a resort-style pool, and a health and wellness facility.
Barry’s portfolio included Club 33 at the Walt Disney World Resort. This private, in-park club allows Club 33 Members exclusive access to four distinct private club locations, one in each Walt Disney World theme park. Club members enjoy admission, unique amenities, exciting VIP tours, and elite services and activations specific to membership.
Additionally, Barry managed and led the Walt Disney World Spa and Salon operations for six locations. When tasked with rebuilding the spa and salon experience, Barry was credited with devising a new incremental business, ‘Character Couture’ (Disney inspired hair and makeup).
Barry and his wife Sharon married in 1995. Sharon owns Stein Marketing Group. They are proud parents to Michael, who works for a tech firm in Atlanta, and Jenna, who is a freshman at the University of South Florida.
When asked about one of his most exciting assignments, Barry says, “The quintessential pinnacle event was being selected as the General Manager for the D23 Expo, Disney’s first-ever fan exposition. This special event was designed exclusively for Disney fans, and attracted more than 30,000 participants. It was exciting to be on the ground floor.”
As a result of its kickoff and success, Barry was recognized and honored by Event Solutions magazine as the 2010 Corporate Planner/Producer of the Year. The D23 Expo has continued to be a thriving platform for ‘everything Disney.’
2013-2019: General Manager of Golden Oak, Club 33, and Walt Disney World Spas and Salons
2012: Director of Meetings and Education, Meeting Professionals International (MPI)
2011-2012: Director Conference Management and Catering, The Sands Group – Venetian/Palazzo Resort
2010: Vice President Special Events, Dallas Cowboys Football Club-Legends Hospitality Management, Inc.
1998-2010: Director Corporate Meetings and Special Events, Walt Disney World/Walt Disney Company
1994-1998: Services Director, Conventions, Catering, Special Events and Disney’s Fairytale Weddings, Walt Disney World
1992-1994: Food and Beverage Manager, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
1990-1992: Resident Manager, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
1988-1990: Front Office Manager/Resident Manager, Disney’s Polynesian Resort and The Disney Inn
1985-1988: Club Manager, ClubCorp of America
1984: Area Manager, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
1983-1984: Manager, Disney’s Special Activities
1981-1983: Assistant Manager, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and Contemporary Resort
1977-1980: Lifeguard/Recreation Host, Walt Disney World