James B. Cora

James B. Cora

December 03, 1937 - March 21, 2021
Orange California

James B. Cora

December 03, 1937 - March 21, 2021
Orange California


There will be a private family service for Jim.

Cards of condolence may to sent to Jim’s family at:
Mary Ann Cora
P. O. Box 465
Trabuco Canyon CA 92678-0465


Jim Cora was born and raised in the Catholic faith, and carried his faith in God through his life. He was known by those that love him as Jimmy, Dad, Grandpa, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, and Friend. His wisdom, humor, and love kept us centered and inspired us to grow throughout our lives. He served in the Air Force and Army before starting his career with Disney. Jim’s passion for Disney was evident in his work, and he carried that magic with him in all of his endeavors. He loved all things Lebanese, especially his large extended family. We are all blessed to have been a part of his life. May he rest in peace. We love you Jimmy, God bless you.

The family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the healthcare professionals at St. Joseph’s Hospital of Orange. The excellent nursing care Jim received was always filled with compassion and grace.

In lieu of flowers, Jim had asked that donations please be considered for these two organizations. He worked closely with them for many years. Donations by check can be mailed to:

St. Joseph Hospital Foundation
In Memory of Jim Cora
1100 W. Stewart Drive
Orange, CA 92868


Taller San Jose Hope Builders
P.O. Box 685
Santa Ana CA 92701
(Please reference Jim Cora in the memo)


The following, written by Brady MacDonald for the Orange County Register, details Jim’s career and legacy.

Disney Legend Jim Cora’s influence at the company was so vast ” stretching around the globe from Disneyland to Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris ” that it took multiple windows dedicated in his honor on Main Street U.S.A. to capture all of his contributions.

Cora, of Orange, passed away on Sunday, March 21 after a brief hospitalization at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, according to Disney officials. He was 83.

Cora started at Disneyland in 1957 as a part-time attractions host polishing 3D glasses at the Mickey Mouse Club Theater and retired 43 years later as chairman of Disney International.

Cora credited his rapid rise to company founder Walt Disney who set his career path in motion with a promotion into a training and development role. The boss sent the teenager over to the Disneyland administration building to find Disney University founder Van Arsdale France with the admonition: “Tell him Walt sent you. I think he may have something for you.”

Disney Parks chairman and former Disneyland resort president Josh D’Amaro called Cora one of the company’s last connections to Walt Disney.

“Very few people have a Disney legacy that reaches as far and wide as Jim Cora,” D’Amaro said in a statement. “His dedication to bringing Disney magic to people around the world was only matched by the passion he exuded throughout his career and for the many years that followed. I always loved hearing Jim’s thoughts about our business. He was one of our last connections to Walt Disney and he will be missed dearly.”

In 1971, Cora implemented the “Disney Way of Leadership” program at the Magic Kingdom with the opening of the Florida theme park.

Ahead of the 1983 opening of Tokyo Disneyland, Cora was named managing director of operations for the Japan theme park before being promoted vice president of Walt Disney Productions Japan, overseeing Disney’s operational and design standards.

“My dad didn’t speak Japanese fluently, but he learned the things he needed to successfully communicate how a park should run and make sure the brand was safe,” said his son, Jim, in a statement released by Disney.

After Tokyo Disneyland, Cora switched his attention to master planning and site research for Euro Disneyland, which would later be renamed Disneyland Paris.

In the 1990s, Cora was responsible for the creative direction of Tokyo DisneySea. He retired as chairman of Disney International in 2001. Cora was named a Disney Legend in 2005.

Cora was a role model and mentor to many of his fellow Disney cast members, according to his son.

“As I talk to his colleagues and friends, I’m finding that so many people are telling me, ‘He was like a dad to me, too,'” said his son, who has worked at Disneyland for 33 years.

In retirement, Cora volunteered with Taller San Jose Hope Builders and served on the board of directors of St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. His memoir, “Not Just a Walk in the Park: My Worldwide Disney Resorts Career,” will be published later this year by Disney Editions.

Cora is survived by his wife, Mimi; daughter Rene Wong and her husband Kelly; his son Jim, and his wife, Bonnie; two grandchildren, Kayleigh and Joshua; and siblings Marilyn and John.


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40 responses to James B. Cora

  1. Repose en paix Jim, from a young French security officer at Eurodisney in 1991, memories of a senior manager who always took time to say hi when going through our gates.
    A name and face that we all remember fondly….
    From France, to his family, Jim was a true legend

  2. Sue Wilder says:

    My deepest sympathy to everyone in the Cora family. I worked with Jim on the Paris project and would walk off a cliff for him. A truly wonderful person and one of the best bosses I ever had. A sure Disney legend! He will be missed.

    1. Jim Cora was nothing less than one of the founding fathers of the Disneyland ideals. By coming aboard only two years from opening, he was in at the ground floor, but more importantly, he learned Walt’s way while Disneyland was still a flexible prospect. As much as anyone then and most assuredly now, Jim came to personify the might of Disneyland Park and the Jim Cora I knew and respected invested we designers with a firm sense of what made the magic kingdoms, magical. He was every bit the magician Walt was. In my career at Imagineering, it was the professionals, the storied veterans who kept the flame, and showed the next gen Imagineers what it took to envision a successful Disney park. They weren’t resting on laurels, Jim greeted the next international challenge as if he was overseeing the making of a Disneyland for the first time. He was of course a tough and dedicated executive who did not suffer fools, of which there were often too many to count, but Jim Cora could prevail. To be honest, without his firm leadership and unyielding focus, there may have only been one park in Anaheim. I had not seen him in the 13 years I’ve been retired, but I still savor the honor of having pleased Jim Cora with my work. There was a scant handful of senior executives whose gauntlet you must run and Jim was one of the toughest, but if you got it right, he was the first to acknowledge and approve. He was truly a giant and Disneylands the world over have lost a best friend. Farewell, you a missed already by all of us, but here’s hoping your next ride is at least an E Ticket. And say hello to Walt.

  3. Tim Delaney says:

    Jim, my friend, rest well. I have one final request, please review the Entry Sequence to Heaven, God knows the Imagineers need all the help they can get to enter the final Magic kingdom. Your knowledge, experience and leadership will always be remembered!! Tim Delaney, Imagineer


    Although we represented different parts of the company, I always enjoyed working with Jim.

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