On November 20, 2022, the former (and very popular) Disney CEO, Bob Iger, once again took to leading The Walt Disney Company. Iger’s return immediately followed the abrupt firing of Bob Chapek — who had been in charge for less than three years.
During Bob Chapek’s short time as CEO, he struggled to get in the good graces of Disney fans. Between his public fumbles with the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit and Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, his extreme price increases, the addition of Genie+, theme park reservations, park hopping restrictions, and more… Disney fans felt like they were left in the dust and discontent ran rampant.
Of course, Bob Chapek was CEO during the COVID-19 pandemic, which would be difficult for any leader of a massive industry to bounce back from.
But, unfortunately, Chapek was known for always looking for ways to increase profits while cutting costs, something most CEOs prioritize. However, Chapek’s ways of cutting costs angered many who saw the quality in Disney’s theme parks go down while prices shot up.
Guests frequently complained about rides and attractions being in disrepair and trash overtaking some areas.
While Mr. Chapek was seemingly constantly taking money away from Disney Parks, in December 2022, Bob Iger was quick to share he planned to do the exact opposite.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Disney revealed it was increasing spending by 37% in 2023 — going from $4.9 billion to $6.7 billion. Disney fans were elated that more money would be spent on Disney theme parks.
The Walt Disney Company is developing plans to accelerate and expand investment in its Parks, Experiences and Products segment to nearly double capital expenditures over the course of approximately 10 years to roughly $60 billion, including by investing in expanding and enhancing domestic and international parks and cruise line capacity.
It is important to note that this additional money may not necessarily mean more attractions, but it could mean that more money will be spent on improving things already in the parks, which would still be a nice change of pace.
There have, however, been big expenses unfolding for the Disney Parks, such as the opening of TRON Lightcycle/Run at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT’s Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana attraction, the massive EPCOT construction overhaul, and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (formerly Splash Mountain) at both Disneyland Park and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Not only has the current CEO, Bob Iger, held Town Hall-style meetings with Disney Cast Members to share how happy he is to be back and to look at the bright side of the future of the company, but in the Disney fandom is celebrating Chapek-era changes as recent as January 2024.
January 9, 2024, marked a big day for Disney fans, as many restrictions were shifted or removed altogether, such as the abolishment of the 2 p.m. Park Hopping rule at Walt Disney World. Additionally, there is now more flexibility to visit the parks without theme park reservations (with some exceptions) and even opportunities for guests to take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan once again.
More Work to Do
Alas, Mr. Iger… there is more work to do!
Could we see changes to Disney’s Genie+ expense that Chapek instated to take the place of the free FastPass+ system? Could more Disney Resort benefits return, such as Chapek’s removal of free resort guest MagicBands and free transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport with Disney’s former Magical Express? Only time will tell!
Mr. Iger is set to remain in the CEO role through December 31, 2024, and a new CEO will take over in the New Year.
Have you been pleased with Iger’s reversal of the Chapek-era changes? Let us know in the comments!