Hinsdale Central High School

Tom Elrod

Membership level: Hall of Fame

Tom Elrod

Inductee Year 2017
Tom Elrod
Tom is a noted marketing and entertainment executive who has vast experience in the entertainment industry.

For 24 years, he was a key executive with the Walt Disney Company. He last served as President of Marketing and Entertainment for Walt Disney Attractions Worldwide, the theme park and resort division of the company. He was named by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner to be the senior creative executive within this business unit, and now occasionally consults with Disney’s current CEO Robert Iger.

Tom was the chief architect of the creative strategies that continue to be the foundation of the company’s marketing and live entertainment efforts for all the Disney theme parks and resorts around the world: Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris in France, Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Shanghai in China. His many original ideas and creative executions combined over the years to help the parks and resorts attain significant attendance gains and record profitability.

He guided a staff of hundreds and masterminded marketing plans and creative strategies with significant budgets and ambitious objectives. He was a key liaison with the Walt Disney Theatrical team and initiated significant tie in with Disney’s many movies and television shows.

He conceived the initial marketing plans, grand openings and worldwide press events for EPCOT, the Disney-MGM Studios and Disneyland Paris. He was also the creator of the parks’ famous year round anniversary celebrations and worldwide promotional tours.

He spearheaded over 15 years of national television commercials and innovation promotional activities. The famous “I’m going to Disney World” television ads, still a mainstay at the Super Bowl, were his concept, as were creation of the live, network televised annual Christmas and Easter parades, seen annually on ABC. The only new “land” ever created in the Magic Kingdom theme park, “Mickey Mouse Land”, was also his concept, as were many other activities that are permanent parts of the Disney entertainment landscape.

His Disney influence extended to events outside of Disney as well, including production of the NFL Super Bowl XXV and XXVI halftime shows, the Indianapolis 500 festival parade, and the opening of the Pan American Games. He conceived the popular official travel books to the Disney parks, written by Steve Birnbaum, and produced a series of travel videos.
Following his successful career at Disney, Elrod created Inspirations, Inc. an entertainment oriented consulting company. His clients included many noteworthy organizations throughout the sports, resorts and tourism industries.

His early career out of college included such stints as an elementary school teacher in inner city Indianapolis, an advertising agency account executive and Public Relations Head of the Junior Olympics for the AAU.

During his years at Hinsdale Central, Tom was a reporter for the school newspaper, and performed with a rock band, The Rogues.

A graduate of Butler University, Tom has been Chairman of the Board of the university’s Board of Trustees. He has been the Chairman of the Telluride Tourism Board, the marketing organization of the town of Telluride, Colorado and is a former board member of the Children’s Miracle Network, the Travel Industry of America, the International Museum of Cartoon Art and the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.

He was awarded the Butler Medal from his alma mater, Butler University. He also has been given the Association of Marketing Executives Travel Hall of Fame Atlas Award, named one of the most influential tourism executives by Tour and Travel News, and won the Silver Medal Award from the Orlando Ad Federation.

Tom is semi-retired and lives in Telluride, Colorado and Winter Park, Florida with his wife Janet. Both are proud parents of two children and have three grandchildren.
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