Jack Lindquist, Longtime Disneyland Executive, Dies at 88

Jack Lindquist - H 2016
Courtesy of Disney

Jack Lindquist - H 2016

The honorary mayor of the theme park started there in September 1955, two months after it opened, and was named its first president in 1990.

Jack Lindquist, a popular marketing executive at Disneyland who spent almost four decades with the Walt Disney Co., has died. He was 88.

Lindquist, who began at the park in September 1955, two months after it opened, died Sunday morning of natural causes at his home in Anaheim, his family said.

Lindquist served as Disneyland’s first advertising manager, and he shared an office with future Walt Disney Imagineering legend Marty Sklar.

The Chicago native was named president of the Anaheim park in 1990. When he retired on Nov. 18, 1993 — on Mickey Mouse’s 65th birthday — Lindquist received a commemorative window on Main Street, U.S.A. that reads, “J.B. Lindquist, Honorary Mayor of Disneyland.”

“We are not a cure for cancer, we are not going to save the world, but if we can make people that happy for a few hours or for a day, then we are doing something worthwhile,” he wrote in his 2010 memoir, In Service to the Mouse.

Lindquist helped come up with the sports celebration campaign, “I’m Going to Disneyland,” first exclaimed by Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms of the New York Giants in 1987.


"Jack Lindquist was a Disney original in every sense,” Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger said in a statement. “He made sure Disneyland was the Happiest Place on Earth for each guest who walked through the gates, setting the standard for every leader that followed. Those of us who had the good fortune to know Jack will always remember the kindness, humility and dedication that made him such an important part of this company and a true Disney Legend.”

Lindquist was involved in the marketing of the park's original “E tickets” and spearheaded myriad company projects, including Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom Club, Disney Dollars, the Disneyland Pigskin Classic, the Ambassador Program and Grad Nites. He also lobbied for expansion of Disneyland and the development of a second theme park for the Disneyland Resort.

Lindquist and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was 4, and as a child actor, he appeared as an extra in episodes of the Our Gang series of comedy short films. He also was in the background of such popular films as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Holiday Inn (1942) and The Major and the Minor (1942), and he danced in the Lucille Ball film Best Foot Forward (1943).

After graduating from Hollywood High School, he spent two years in the U.S. Air Force and then completed his education at the University of Southern California.

Lindquist became director of marketing at Disneyland in 1965. In 1972, he was named vp marketing for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, which had opened a year earlier in Orlando. Four years later, he was promoted to vp marketing for Walt Disney Attractions, and in 1982 he was put in charge of marketing and entertainment for all of the company’s outdoor recreation activities.

Lindquist went on to set up the marketing division for Tokyo Disneyland, and as executive vp creative marketing concepts for Walt Disney Attractions, he developed promotional and entertainment ideas for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

He was named a Disney Legend in 1994. 

“Jack was a great friend and mentor who taught all of us about risk-taking and never forgot who the boss was,” Sklar said in a statement. “As he acknowledged in his book, ‘Keep that smile on your face, twinkle in your eye and song in your heart. Thanks, Mickey!’ And all of us who worked with him say. ‘Thanks, Jack!’ ”