Bob Allen began working with Disney in 1955 as a ride operator at Disneyland. Eventually, he rose through the ranks to become vice president of Walt Disney World. Still, he remained a modest and low-key executive, who gained the respect of Central Florida’s government and community. Civic-minded, Bob regularly volunteered to serve the state and the Orlando community. Among his posts, he served as chairman of the Central Florida Economic Development Advisory Council and member of the Governor’s Committee on the Future. He was among Disney’s greatest goodwill ambassadors.
In 1987, the Orlando Sentinel described Bob as a person “who knew how to be successful and compassionate at the same time.” Fellow Disney Legend Joe Potter recalled that same year, “He was a great, great lover of people, and he showed it. When you met Bob Allen, he acted like you were the first person he ever met.” Former Florida Governor Reubin Askew added, “Bob was an outstanding person. He did a tremendous job for Disney and beyond that he was a very warm human being.”
Born in Corona, California, on February 4, 1932, Bob served in the United States Navy for four years during the Korean War. After the war, while majoring in physical education at Long Beach State College, he applied for a job at Disneyland on a “lark.”
He won a position working on the Casey Jr. Circus Train in Fantasyland, charged with blowing a whistle if anyone fell off of the train.
During those early years he held a variety of posts, including manager of the Golden Horseshoe Revue and manager of guest relations. By 1963, he advanced to production coordinator at Disneyland. In 1964, Bob moved to Denver, Colorado, where he managed Disney’s first venture into family recreation and location-based entertainment—the Celebrity Sports Center. Under his able guidance, the Center became a financial success. Then, in 1968, he returned to Disneyland to serve as staff assistant to the vice president of Disneyland and director of General Services. In that position, he helped prepare for the opening of Walt Disney World in Florida.
In 1970, Bob moved to Florida to serve as director of General Services for Walt Disney World and was later named vice president of its Resorts Division. He was elected chairman of the Walt Disney World Operating Committee in 1973, and on January 1, 1977, was promoted to vice president of Walt Disney World. In that position, he supervised the Park’s day-to-day operations, as well as its long-range development, until he passed away on November 8, 1987.