Phil Lengyel, Longtime Disney Marketing Executive, Dies at 70

Courtesy Lengyel Family
Phil Lengyel

He spent 23 years with the company and oversaw a period of great expansion at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Phil Lengyel, a longtime marketing executive with Disney's Parks & Resorts division, died Dec. 15 of cardiac arrest at Adventist Health Glendale hospital, his family announced. He was 70.

Lengyel joined Disney in 1982 and spent 23 years with the company. During his tenure, he and his team were responsible for marketing and selling the most aggressive park and resort expansion in company history, helping to make Walt Disney World Resort in Florida the planet's No. 1 vacation/holiday destination.

Lengyel also was instrumental in the creation and development of the Disney Sports and the Parks Alliance Development organizations that support joint marketing programs of the company's theme parks and major global corporations.

"From Raglan Road to our golf courses, this place is filled with Phil's memory, and his fingerprints are all over the work that made us what we are today," Walt Disney World Resort president Josh D'Amaro said in a statement.

Added former Disney chairman and CEO Michael Eisner: "Phil was brilliant in business development and the marketing group at Walt Disney World. He was polite and aggressive at the same time. He worked with CEOs to achieve creative and fair deals for Disney. He did things his way and got them done. Phil was one of the funniest, kindest, decent and most caring people on the planet, with an outsized heart to match his personality."

Lengyel left Disney in 2005 to fill the newly created position of executive vp and chief marketing officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, host of the Indianapolis 500.

In 2011, he and his family relocated to California to join Dick Cook Studios, run by the former chairman of Disney Studios. Cook called Lengyel "an extremely creative marketer with brilliant ideas that he brought to life. But more importantly, Phil was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. He was kind and giving, as funny as funny can be, full of adventure, dedicated to his family and friends, and was probably one of the most positive people I have ever known."

Born in 1949 in Hammond, Indiana, Lengyel was raised in East Chicago, Indiana. He attended Munster High School, Ball State University, where he received a bachelor's degree in radio and television, and Webber College, where he earned an honorary doctorate in business administration.

After school, Lengyel worked in television and radio as a journalist in Indiana and Florida before joining Disney as a senior publicist. He eventually became a senior vp at Disney Parks & Resorts Marketing and then senior vp sports and vp alliance development for Disney Parks & Resorts Worldwide.

Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Jana; their children Lauren and Shane; his son, Will, from a previous marriage, and daughter-in-law Chrisdin; daughter Kelly and son-in-law Jason; grandchildren Tony, Alani, Aiden and Addison; brother Michael; and sisters Nancy and Kathy.

Donations in his honor can be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.