Disney Replaces Bob Chapek with Bob Iger as CEO!
Disney has pulled off a classic Bob Swap, replacing Bob Chapek with once former and now current CEO Bob Iger. Yes, you read that correctly. No, this is not an early April Fool’s Day joke—but perhaps it is an early Christmas present! This post offers our commentary about what this does and does not mean for Walt Disney World, and what led to the ouster.
Let’s start with the official press release, in which the Walt Disney Company announced that Robert A. Iger is returning to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Iger, who spent more than four decades at the Company, including 15 years as its CEO, has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board. “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”
“Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide—all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership,” Arnold said.
The position of Chairman of the Board remains unchanged, with Arnold serving in that capacity.
“I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO,” Iger said. “Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe—most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling.”
During his 15 years as CEO, from 2005 to 2020, Iger helped build Disney into one of the world’s most successful and admired media and entertainment companies with a strategic vision focused on creative excellence, technological innovation, and international growth. He expanded on Disney’s legacy of unparalleled storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox and increased the Company’s market capitalization fivefold during his time as CEO. Iger continued to direct Disney’s creative endeavors until his departure as Executive Chairman last December, and the Company’s robust pipeline of content is a testament to his leadership and vision.
In an email to employees and Cast Members, Iger revealed he was returning to the company. “It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement—that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to the Walt Disney Company as chief executive officer,” he wrote.
According to the Wall Street Journal, several top Disney executives first learned the news that Bob Iger was returning as CEO via that email–with a few wondering if it was the result of a hacked account. Some of these executives were together attending an Elton John concert at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles that was streamed live on Disney Plus. Chapek was expected to attend the concert and the company had planned for him to introduce Elton John on-stage, but that did not happen.
While being fired (sorry, “stepping down”) had to be a pretty big bummer for Bob Chapek, missing out on the chance to introduce Elton John at Dodger Stadium had to be a close second on the disappointment scale. If I in a position of strength negotiating my multi-million dollar severance package for a company that wanted rid of me, I might’ve pressed to be fired (sorry, “stepped down”) after that concert. That’s just me as someone who loves good music, though. Bob Chapek is probably more of a Justin Bieber fan.
But I digress. Also according to the Wall Street Journal, negotiations between Iger and Disney’s board of directors to return as CEO were initiated only in recent days. It’s unclear what convinced Iger to return, as he’s publicly stated on at least two occasions over the last year that he isn’t interested in returning to Disney.
In fairness, these denials have been about as convincing as a politician who has already established an exploratory committee claim that they have no intentions of running for president “at this time.” As with that, the time’s have changed since Iger issued those “vehement” denials. (On a related note, it’s also possible Iger has realized he doesn’t have an appetite for, or future in, politics.)
If you’ve followed the “Battle of the Bobs” that we’ve been documenting over the course of the last couple years, this “surprise” Bob Swap™️ (coming soon to Disney+ or perhaps another book by James B. Stewart) actually should NOT be so shocking. In fact, we’ve written repeatedly since February 2020 that Bob Chapek was likely brought in to fulfill a specific role, acting as a hatchet man to make unpopular decisions that were necessary fiscal austerity measures when times were tough.
Our position has been that Bob Chapek was a placeholder CEO–the one who would do the dirty work and help Disney emerge from a time of crisis as a stronger and leaner company. That it was likely even Chapek knew the score, and what he’d have to overcome in order to have a legacy and tenure on par with Bob Iger or even Michael Eisner.
We became even more confident in this prediction in the year after Bob Iger stepped down as CEO. During that time, there was nearly nonstop palace intrigue about the tensions between Bob Chapek and Bob Iger. Only a couple months after he stepped down, there were credible reports that Bob Iger reasserted control at Disney after riding off into the sunset.
It didn’t stop there. Variety published a story titled “Disney’s New World Order Leads to Confusion and Bruised Egos.” Since then, there have been several more articles about the tensions between Bob Iger and Bob Chapek. All of this was exacerbated by the bombshell Black Widow lawsuit filed by Scarlett Johansson against Disney, with insiders blaming CEO Bob Chapek for the handling of that embarrassing incident.
As recently as this spring, there were reports that the Bobs rarely talk–with some media insiders claiming they weren’t even on speaking terms. It almost certainly didn’t help that Iger took an early public position on the controversy in Florida, which was at odds with Chapek’s initial (but not final!) response. That made headlines for weeks, and culminated in Florida passing bills to dissolve Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. Books (plural) will someday be written about this saga.
With that said, I’ve gotta be transparent rather than taking a victory lap: my confidence in the assessment that Bob Iger would return to helm the Walt Disney Company was shaken once he relinquished his role of Executive Chairman and actually left. My expectation was that he’d also extend that, and continue waiting in the wings.
It was a similar story when the Walt Disney Company’s board of directors extended CEO Bob Chapek’s contract for three more years earlier this summer. That was likely a show of confidence for investors after Chapek’s stumbles with Florida and numerous other unforced errors–and done with the realization that there were no better options short of a hail mary to bring back Bob Iger, Kevin Mayer, or Tom Staggs. It was still somewhat surprising, and cast serious doubt on predictions of Bob Iger returning. Honestly, I thought it closed the door on Iger’s future with Disney.
Then the last couple few weeks happened. The first (recent) red flag for me was Chapek’s session with the Wall Street Journal. While most fans focused on the substance of what he had to say, what I found more striking was his demeanor, erratic and contradictory statements. Notably, he ended by claiming he “can be teflon” and his own feelings aren’t important when it comes to fan criticism, saying so in about as defensive and wounded way as possible.
Only a couple weeks later, Chapek delivered the fiscal fourth quarter results, and offered optimistic commentary that Wall Street investors called divorced from the actual results and forward-looking guidance. As a result of the misses on earnings, revenue, and the lowered earnings forecast, Disney stock plummeted over 13% to close under $87 the following day.
Wall Street analysts and investors had criticism for CEO Bob Chapek and his stewardship of the company, with many downgrading the stock or slashing target prices, and CNBC television personality Jim Cramer calling for Chapek to be fired (repeatedly).
With that, it seemed that the chorus had grown to loud for the board of directors to ignore. Rather than continuing to weather tone-deaf decisions and clumsy communications, something had to be done. However, with all previous potential successors unceremoniously exiting Disney, that left only an outside candidate or…Bob Iger. And so the king has returned.
To be fair, we’ve also expressed plenty of disappointment that Bob Iger stepped down so abruptly right before the pandemic reached America and the resulting economic fallout ravaged the company. We’ve speculated that Iger was privy to non-public information, or at least had better insight into what was about to happen domestically given Disney’s business dealings in China. (This isn’t intended to sound conspiratorial—many multinational companies knew the writing was on the wall before things got bad in the US.)
From the outside looking in at the time—and with the benefit of hindsight—it sure seemed like Iger was cutting and running before times got tough in order to preserve his legacy. A legacy that, had he not returned, should’ve been appended with an asterisk about his lack of succession planning and the debt with which he saddled Disney thanks to the 21st Century Fox acquisition and launch of Disney Plus.
With that said, I’m happy about Iger’s homecoming to Disney and am excited to see his actual “final act” as the Walt Disney Company’s CEO. I was skeptical about how much he paid to acquire 21st Century Fox at the time, comparing it to the deals ESPN made with various leagues that became an albatross years later as the media landscape changed. However, I also noted that you should never bet against Bob Iger when it comes to M&A decisions.
You would’ve lost multiple times over betting against Iger, as he was previously “undefeated.” (It’s like doubting James Cameron—no matter how odd or bad the idea might seem, he has better vision than you or I.) Eventually, it’s likely that Iger will be vindicated with Fox just like he was with Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and all of the lower profile companies Disney bought during his tenure.
Now, Iger will also return as investors are reevaluating streaming, pent-up demand at the parks is fizzling out, and we’re on the precipice of a recession or economic downturn. (Already, Iger is receiving a vote of confidence from Wall Street as it anticipates a strategic redirection–shares of $DIS are up about 8% in premarket trading today–it’ll be interesting to see where the stock closes.)
This will be the first time since the early days of Iger’s (original) tenure that he’ll be tasked with dealing with economic headwinds. It should be another true test of his chops as one of the world’s most highly regarded executives, as cleaning up Chapek’s messes (and by extension, Iger’s own past mistakes) will be an even bigger challenge than undoing the damage of late-stage Eisner. Depending upon how quickly he can right the ship, Iger may still have a deal or two left in the tank–video games and social media are two notable ‘holes’ in the Disney empire, and acquiring another streamer (or at least full ownership of Hulu) is also possible.
However, Walt Disney World fans should not overestimate what’s in the purview of the Walt Disney Company’s CEO. Bob Iger is not going to come in this holiday season and give the gift of Disney’s Magical Express, free FastPass, unlimited Park Hopping, Annual Pass sales, reservation-free visits, lower prices, or the Disney Dining Plan.
Many of the unpopular decisions among Walt Disney World fans that have been made since Bob Chapek became CEO would’ve occurred regardless. A good number of things people blame on Chapek were well below his pay grade–he likely had no clue about them in the first place.
Beyond that there are other reasons reviled decisions would’ve happened regardless. That this was and is the trajectory of the theme park business, certain decisions were initiated while Bob Iger was still CEO, or due to changing circumstances–staffing shortages, pent-up demand, pandemic losses, increased consumer spending, etc.
Given the comedy of errors and how bad the last couple of years have been for the parks, it’s easy to forget that Bob Iger was also at the helm making unpopular decisions in 2019 and earlier. None of this started with Chapek, it just got much worse…and in a hurry!
Not to belabor the point, but a good example is paid FastPass. This was an inevitability at Walt Disney World for years before it came to fruition. Long before the closure and suspension of FastPass+ we warned readers that would happen and urging people to prepare for this day. The writing was on the wall for almost 4 years, with the first trial run being offered to Club Level guests. During that time, Disneyland launching MaxPass to great success, and other parks sold FastPass bundles.
Then came the announcement of the Genie app for Walt Disney World while Bob Iger was CEO. While pitched vaguely, the purpose of Genie was to up-sell guests and assist in crowd management. There was no other reason for the company to invest in yet another new app unless it will offer direct ROI.
If that’s the case, you might wonder why we’re happy to have Bob Iger back as the Walt Disney Company’s CEO. (And we very much are happy! We’re also just realists about his mandate, likely limitations, etc.) There are actually a lot of reasons, but I’ll boil it down to a few: stability, attention to detail, and care for the creative legacy of the Walt Disney Company.
The “unfortunate” angle of this news for me personally is that it renders obsolete a halfway finished article I was writing titled: Bob Chapek Doesn’t ‘Get’ Disney. You’re probably better off not having read that, as it said in 2,000+ words what the title says in 5. In a nutshell, Chapek seemed wholly unconcerned with legacy of Walt Disney and what made the 100 year old company so special, unique, and distinct from any other Fortune 500 corporation.
To that same point, Chapek came across as indifferent to creatives and the storytelling process. This isn’t just idle speculation. We have heard from countless employees and high-level Cast Members that Chapek was clueless and did not care. Although often mischaracterized as a theme parks guy, consumer products was his actual forte.
This was hardly a secret–plenty of former (and a few current) Imagineers have expressed exactly this sentiment publicly and did so while Chapek was still gainfully employed. Now that Chapek is powerless, even more are coming out to celebrate his downfall. These same individuals still rave about Eisner and have had positive (or at least not negative) things to say about Iger. The former is beloved for his years with Wells, while Iger is routinely praised as empowering Imagineers and putting Disney back on the right creative track following Eisner’s darker days.
It should go without saying, but how the CEO is viewed from within the company is a big deal. Imagineers, animators, artists, filmmakers, etc. are the heart and soul of the Walt Disney Company. To lose them is to lose the thread, so to speak, and the damage is done even if not immediately apparent in the near-term creative output. Inertia is most definitely a thing that can keep certain things going in the right direction…until it doesn’t.
On a similar note, we’ve remarked how with Chapek it was ironic that a company specializing in storytelling had a leader who is utterly incapable of presenting a compelling narrative or delivering a message in a way that seems sincere and heartfelt, rather than stilted and scripted. So many of the “unforced errors” that occurred under Chapek simply would not have happened with Iger at the helm. Even if the exact same decision were made, it would’ve been framed in a better way.
You may think that this doesn’t matter to you as a consumer or guest, but it absolutely does. Corporate culture and tone gets set from the top down. Iger ran a tight ship, was zealously on message, made Cast Members feel like they were part of something special, and didn’t relish insulting fans. There are a bunch of little (and large) fumbles and missteps that occurred under Chapek that never would’ve been tolerated under Iger (who will presumably be bringing back his c-suite team that was likewise great at this type of thing). All of this matters in the long run.
Similarly, Bob Iger was much more detail-oriented and far less sloppy. While Disney IT has been bad for a long time and the buck stops with Iger when it comes to the NextGen initiative and My Disney Experience app, those are the exception rather than the rule. (And to Iger’s credit, there are no easy solutions when it comes to Disney IT–there are a lot of legacy systems that cannot easily be replaced.)
I have a very difficult time imagining that Iger would’ve allowed Genie to be released in its initial (or present) form. Or that he would’ve allowed the launch and subsequent changes to be so sloppy. I also doubt Iger would’ve tolerated comments about guests’ waistlines or made any number of other mistakes, all of which add up in aggregate.
Ultimately, Bob Iger returning to his former role as CEO of the Walt Disney Company is very good news, in our opinion. The intention of this commentary isn’t to throw a wet blanket on the excitement Walt Disney World and Disneyland fans undoubtedly have in response to this news. Rather, we’re simply trying to manage expectations and provide a bit of reasonable context and commentary about what is and isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
In the end, you shouldn’t underestimate how pivotal this moment is–in a positive way–for the future of the Walt Disney Company. For all of the guest-facing damage that was plainly visible during Chapek’s reign of terror, there was just as much bubbling below the surface that would’ve manifested down the road. Iger absolutely will not make all of the “positive” changes you’d like to see. To the contrary, he’ll undoubtedly make some more “negative” ones that you won’t like.
However, Iger does have the chance to rectify Chapek’s missteps and mistakes, while making a variety of positive low-hanging fruit changes in the short term. More importantly, Iger has the chance to course-correct, altering the trajectory of the company and setting it back on the right path while also finding and grooming a suitable successor. It may not be enough for a lot of you, but I honestly cannot think of a better move for the Walt Disney Company as it enter its 100th year than setting things right to ensure it’s around for the next century. The king has returned, indeed.
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What do you think about the “surprise” announcement that the Walt Disney Company is doing a classic Bob Swap™️, replacing Chapek with Iger? Are you excited or disappointed that Disney is bringing back CEO Bob Iger? Think he’ll give the gift of Disney’s Magical Express, free FastPass, unlimited Park Hopping, Annual Pass sales, reservation-free visits, lower prices, or the Disney Dining Plan? Thoughts on anything else covered here? Are you bullish or bearish about the company’s future as the Walt Disney Company enters its 100th year? Agree or disagree with the firing of Chapek? Are you still worried about the future of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or the company in general? Think things will improve or get worse throughout 2023? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I read Bob Iger’s autobiography (The Ride of a Lifetime) and saw how much he did to make Disney what it is today. The only thing I question about his judgment was how he handled the creation of moderate and value resorts. They could have been so much better – I speak from having stayed at moderate resorts – something Steve Jobs commented on in the book. Moderate: small window, no real door on bathroom area, and balconies/patios would have added great value. It’s too much of a leap from the Poly to the Caribbean; moderates in particular could have been so much more, well, special. I also remember the golden Eisner days and how he was said to have “out-Walted Walt.” A little more of that passion in Iger would be good.
Sign me, true Dis Fan anyway.
Moderate fans like me and my family do not want balconies. At all. We love being able to walk out our moderate room door directly into the Florida weather. We won’t ever be on a balcony. We’ll be out experiencing the sizable resort and its marvelous grounds. We’ve stayed deluxe before and didn’t enjoy the experience anywhere nearly as much as the moderates, didn’t use the balconies, and thought it was really fussy to have to pass through the inside of a “deluxe” hotel in beachwear headed to the pool. We have our favorites and not so favorites, but we think the moderates are on point.
As always, an excellent analysis.
My intuition was that Iger left so abruptly because his (severance) compensation was tied to previous stock prices. Once the pandemic hit, and before stock prices could decline too much and/or for too long, Iger had his severance package memorialized.
Chapek may have been a consumer product guy, but that’s reason enough that he never should have received the CEO job. Product quality has declined, and were it not for Mandalorian (announced during Iger’s tenure), consumer products may have had negative growth the past few years. If I couldn’t take my family to Disney during the pandemic, I could have at least bought some toys. That poor pipeline is on Chapek.
And I believe you expressed how much attitude of the CEO is reflected in the customer (& cast) experience. Like you, I am doubtful that Iger would have been as indifferent to the poorly introduced Genie+. So even if a paid fast pass was inevitable, Iger would not have alienated so many loyal customers. Cast members were overwhelmed by the poor product too, which was not a way to lift their spirits either.
You’ve mentioned that Chapek never seemed to care about how people feel and/or react. The result, something I have repeatedly expressed, Chapek was ruining brand loyalty for the long-term at the expense of short-term profits.
Genie+ and the need to wake at 7am to be attached to a phone may never be replaced, but I truly believe that Iger ‘gets Disney’ far better than Chapek, and that, somehow, Iger will try to regain the loyalty that has been lost by customers like my family. Chapek lost my family to Universal, but Iger is likely to find a way to persuade us back. Sadly, it’s likely too late. And it’s not just my family Disney let, it’s the folks I persuade to go too. I can no longer do that in good faith.
But what has stock analysts spooked is Disney+. Iger is a media guy. He should be able to change the course of this ship into the appropriate direction. Iger is likely to be able to inspire the next generation of leadership at Disney, whereas Chapek fired his likely successors. $180 stock price is far off, markets are down 30% everywhere, but Iger will be able to lift the valuation from the 20-year low that Chapek deserved.
This IS a miracle indeed Tom! And most certainly Disney needs Iger back now more than ever. I too suspected something amiss after Disney’s shares dropped so low & Chapeks WSJ interview. Disney is hurting in a bad way and Guest Satisfaction is at an all time low as well. And although Iger cannot undue a lot of the stuff already in place, I still think he’ll do a helluva better job than Chapek ever has. Bob Iger is suited for this comeback, albeit short lived until a suitable replacement is found ( We don’t need another Chapek). Curious if any of the other Top Disney guys will also make a comeback since Iger has returned? Your thoughts Tom?
I just think this is what We ALL need right now. Iger is beloved not just among Disney & has many Fans like you and me. I can’t wait to see what He does!
Disney needs to do 2 things –
1. Bring back “The Disney Difference” – no one likes price increases, but it is understandable. What you can’t have are price increases coupled with a lesser experience. i.e., paying more for less.
2. Stay out of politics – It is a no-win scenario; pick a side and you alienate those who are on the other side of the argument. Chapek was right to stay out of the Florida bill – All he had to do was remind his people, that people get the government they vote for and that if the people of Florida don’t like a particular piece of legislation, they can vote for other politicians or laws they like. Sure, some cast members would not have been happy with that, but that is the way things work and they would have gotten over it (eventually) and Disney doesn’t get the PR nightmare. Besides that particular legislation was grossly mischaracterized by the press/media/activists.
The second would be a horrible decision that would irreparably harm the company. Disney is one of the biggest producers of musicals. That means huge gay audiences. We’re in every styling department, hair, makeup department, choreography, writing team, set design, dancers in the movies and at the parks and on the cruises, do you really not understand that the magic of Disney doesn’t exist without us? Even a superhero movie with no gay involvement gets you Morbius. Good luck with that. Chapek refusing to weigh in was doing horrible damage to the image of a progressive company. The whole point of every Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel movie, every princess story, all of it is about standing up for what’s right. Do you even watch the movies? The way Chapek was handling that was destroying the credibility of their messaging.
If a state one of their parks is in is gonna start passing homophobic laws, I sure as hell want Disney to say something and to stop donating to the politicians who are carrying it out. It’s not a ~political issue~ these are kids lives. With this law, if a gay kid is getting homophobically bullied, it’s now illegal for the teacher to support that kid in the way they need to. That is pure evil.
Could it be that the last election and the outcome in Florida left the board shaking in their boots? Disney has to get along with the government, instead of trying to dictate public policy from the C Suite. Iger will probably be smoother in that arena.
As a DVC member it seemed that the regular next thing removed was really unfortunate. It seemed that each new thing, especially Genie, was to manage staff and increase revenue, which requires one to be a vacation planner rather than experience the vacation. Tied to the phone rather than seeing the park. Including the unfortunate “fun” of dining reservations being condensed into 60 days, rather than way out where you could have it figured out without a massive push nearer to the trip. This may sound like an old man rant, but when you have the path figured out, then everything is changed but not in helpful ways? It makes the magic become tedious and that you become a worker rather than a guest.
i totally agree with you on this one. iger would have been forced into making these same changes ie paid fast passes. this was the reason why he stepped away in the first place. hopefully he can bring that stability back to this company but there is a ton of bad blood over the last half decade. so many things that people including myself miss from the past that its going to be hard to get past.
Worth having to wait all night to read your take on the Bob Swap! I think you overestimate the strategic unity of boards. Having worked closely with many boards in my career, I think it’s more likely the board was divided over what to do from before Iger anointed Chapek until last night. In my experience, boards kind of respond to their own potentially wonky decisions by just trying to ride them out, hoping that there’s some magic wand somewhere that someone else will use to make things right so that they don’t have to back up and fix things. You see this very often in nonprofit, and the folks who sit on nonprofit boards are the same folks who sit on corporate boards.
In that respect, I think the cluelessness of it all over all this time wasn’t just Chapek’s ineptitude, but the board’s as well. I think you hit the nail on the head about Chapek just completely not getting, or even having the capacity to get, what Disney means historically and culturally and in people’s hearts and in corporate culture. After all of his years they are, not getting Imagineering or show or the importance of story. Or the importance of not completely pissing off/terrifying visitors and employees and investors all at once. That’s a really big lift to believe all of that would be true in one high-level executive who was at Disney for years. And I think that’s part of the board sitting on its hands. Because when you think about it, all of that being true about Bob Chapek is just astounding. (Although when you get right down to it, isn’t this just really a version of the Pressler years at Disneyland applied to the entire company?)
I also agree with your take that Iger isn’t just coming in to “fix” the pandemic and post-pandemic elements the implementation of which Chapek oversaw. But the yawing delta between Iger’s understanding of Disney and Chapek’s willful ignorance is key here. None of the past two years would have happened in such a clueless manner. Not the war with Florida (which I don’t think we have happened at all), not publicly available interviews and commentary that ridiculed repeat visitors and the economic ability of one time family visits to even happen, there would not have been what is likely a majority of cast members and corporate employees wishing for a house to fall on the now-former CEO.
Most of all, though, there wouldn’t have been the massive push to pay for Disneyland Shanghai and Disney+ on the backs of park visitors. Because that’s really half of the story. I don’t think it’s just that Chapek so thoroughly tanked the stock price. I think that’s what precipitated the board to finally act. But we’ve just had an entire year of articles in major media interviewing long time visitors and one time family trippers saying we’ll just never, ever be back because of how awful the parks experience is now and how far above inflation and reasonable value the expense is.
When the board so heavily burnished Iger in its press release last night, so much of it specifically highlighted Iger’s ability to get everything that Disney is about and to respect and really love the history, the employees, and very much the fans, the visitors, the families. And by very obvious, forest fire-burning extension, that Chapek didn’t get any of it, at all, ever. And I think that really telegraphs that no matter the changes that needed to happen during Chapek’s tenure or would have happened anyway, that the board never expected it all to just suck so much, and suck so much in public.
So in that respect, I do think at the margin’s calm and may be unexpectedly in the middle as well, things are going to just feel different, and maybe even become practically different under Iger 2.0. he doesn’t just have a lot of work to do too many defenses with investors, or Florida, or Imagineering. It’s pretty clear he has dementia and says with visitors and fans. And I think he knows it, and I think he’ll do it, and I think that’s why the board brought him back.
If the board really just wanted Chapek as the hatchet man, after his recent announcement of layoffs and cutbacks, why wouldn’t they just have kept him on longer? That they didn’t says to me that maybe the board doesn’t think that’s the correct way forward. That instead, the strategic (or not so strategic) decisions and behavior that happened under Chapek need to be untied and backed up first. And that gives me hope.
A very MERRY CHRISTMAS to me!!!!!!and a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to all who love WDW.
I can’t wait for the Bob edition of the “Disney War” book. And I loved Iger’s autobiography. I’m already excited about a book on this stage of his career someday!
As happy as I am to have Iger back, I feel as if I’ve been played by Disney. Whether true or not, I’m sure Disney made the right decision. How Iger feels about it, I’m not so certain. Did he really want to return to take the helm? Who knows. Perhaps they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Either way, it’s good to have him back.
Let’s hope Disney gets themselves back on the right track and makes alterations to at least a few of the most unpopular changes Chapek made. Call me crazy for thinking this, but I sincerely hope they bring back Magical express. I believe that decision alone will do a lot in bringing back some of the good Will Disney lost with all their unpopular decisions.
Happy Thanksgiving Tom and Sarah!
Thank goodness. Respect Walt’s values, childlike wonder and love of his guests and respect a beloved
American treasure. Thousands who have left
will return, revenues and stock price will rise.
Bring back the magic.
it’s a thanksgiving miracle!
for what it’s worth tom, i’d still very much like to read the article you mentioned you were in the middle of. it sounds fascinating.
Had to go for the throat with the Bieber crack. As always, appreciate the thoughtful analysis.
I mean yeah, overall its good news for the company as a whole. But the parks will not see any improvement IMO. All the recent things people have been upset about will stay. Nickel and diming, reducing services/cost, etc. As you said, Chapek was the fall guy to get the ball rolling. Perhaps cast member morale or buy in will improve under Iger, but that is about as far as I think it goes.
Bob Iger will have some more work to do on my 7-step “save Disney” plan, but at least they got over the biggest hurdle:
1) Fire Cheapek, CHECK.
2) Remove the park reservation system and return to first come, first served like Universal still is.
3) Return to the free FastPass system.
4) Charge whatever you need to for room rates and park entry in order to pay the cast members a decent wage (that’ll be the most unpopular step with many readers I’d imagine).
5) Sell all the annual passes by the categories as they existed in March 2020.
6) Follow up the 50th Anniversary flop by announcing a return to a ‘Year of a Million Dreams’ campaign. Empower your cast members to make guests the priority (by deed, not just lip service), and make their dreams come true in both small and even bigger ways, every day.
7) And finally, stop focusing on culture war issues and mind your business as your number 1 priority. Full stop.
So well stated. I hope your voice – and so many of our voices – is heard WDW is special and deserves this.
Agree! I know WDW experts keep saying that we have to just accept that Genie+ is here to stay, but I for one will not go down without a fight. I honestly don’t mind price increases on food and tickets (I mean, I don’t love it, but it’s to be expected in this economy). It’s Genie+ that ruined it for me. Last November was the last time we’ll go to WDW for a long time. I absolutely hate waking up early every morning to scramble for a ride reservation (that I have to pay extra for – let’s add insult to injury). And I hated being on my phone all day navigating the stupid system. FP+ made for the best day. You had some set rides and then could sort of go with the flow with the rest. Please bring it back, WDW! I’ll never stop asking
Which culture war issues specifically would you like to see less emphasis on?
All of them.
I so appreciate your thoughtful and detailed analysis. Thank you! This realistic frame of mind will be helpful for impending announcements.
It’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, indeed, and tomorrow starts today. Woohoo!
Bonjour M. Bricker , je suis Canadienne française et je doit vous répondre en français. Je veux vous remercier de maintenir une opinion juste et réaliste , surtout concernant les décisions prises par la direction de Disney depuis certains temps. Vous contribuer avec vos propos , à faire revenir une patie de la magie de Disney qui à disparue depuis quelques temps . Vous êtes ma voie pour dire à la direction de Disney leurs faux pas et en espérant qu’ils vont reprendre une meilleure direction pour leurs clientèles . Je vous appuie dans vos propos et vous fait très confiance . Merci de tout coeur de nous aider à retrouver un Disney Magique .
What is the low hanging fruit? I’m worried that with his fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders, Iger can’t go nuts rolling back measures fans rightly hate but are making a lot of money for the parks.
Also Tom, would love to hear your thoughts on the “state of the parks”. In the past year there has been a ton of talk and articles about uncleanliness in the parks and rides being down much more than usual. Is this all anecdotal/exaggeration or is it based in reality? And if real, is the something that Iger can address in the short term?
Love your Mr Met photo. Glad to know there is another Disney loving Met fan reading Tom’s always great blogs.
on the ride down time Wall Street Journal just did a story on this indicating that downtime is up. I think some of this has to do (just my thought) that many longer term employees who could fix rides are gone and the new staff is either overworked or just did not learn the tricks. It may also be the more complex rides like rise may also have an impact but that is not the only attraction with down time.
Oh and Go Phillies!
The wife and I visit WDW 3-4 times a year and though we would like to and one day will, we have never set foot in another Disney park anywhere – So I have nothing to compare this to except our own experiences at WDW over the last Decade that we have been multiple times a year visitors. The overall experience is less than what it was pre-pandemic and costs have soared and WDW is not as “well kept” as it used to be. I remember seeing cast members with dust pans and brooms walking around sweeping the grounds – ALL throughout the day, but not anymore. After the re-opening and during the transition period of COVID, this was understandable, but as we moved out of the pandemic, regular visitors expected things to return to normal, not, this degraded, more expensive, more tedious experience become, “the new normal”.