On April Fool’s Day, we had a lot of fun here at Disney Dining. Writing satirical prices is a time-honored tradition in the Disney community, and we got really into it. We discussed ideas amongst ourselves and giggled at the outlandish ideas we had dreamed up. We expected to make you laugh at our antics, and many of you did. What we didn’t expect was for any of those silly articles to become verified predictions.
For my part, I took my satirical task seriously. I gave it some real thought asking myself, “What do I most want to see, and how could Disney royally mess it up?” I arrived at Dining Plans and Bob Iger’s replacement. I, like many of you, desperately wanted the Disney Dining Plan back. However, I knew it wouldn’t be the same when it returned. Thankfully my over-the-top satire turned out to be just that– over-the-top. It was never meant to be accurate, just close enough to make you say, “Oh, that’s not true…is it?” and chuckle when you got to my April Fool’s reveal at the end.
My piece on Bob Iger’s replacement (link below), however, was a reflection of my true thoughts, albeit sarcastically and jokingly delivered. At the time, I didn’t think Iger would choose a replacement. I assumed, instead, that he would just stay on as CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
Iger just doesn’t seem to want to let go of the job. In fact, I’ve even wondered if this was the plan all along– to save his skin, he installed Bob Chapek to navigate the pandemic so that he could maintain ‘legacy.” Once that was done, dispose of the fall guy and “reluctantly” agree to be called back. It’s dramatic, but recent reports show it may not be as far-fetched as it seems.
When Iger returned as Disney’s CEO, he did so on the understanding that it would be temporary. His main task was to find and train a replacement. Iger himself said, “Succession is pretty much at the top of the list between me and the Board.” The clock is ticking on that objective. He is six months into a 24-month contract, and there’s no successor in sight. In fact, he has terminated most likely candidates.
Sources close to The Walt Disney Company’s board report that “[Bob Iger] is likely to seek a contract extension beyond his current one (expiring in Dec 2024) as the company faces giant hurdles in finding a successor.” The news that they can’t find a successor surprises many, and it’s downright unbelievable to some. A powerhouse company like Disney ought to be spoiled for choice when it comes to qualified, competent leadership.
Current Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro seemed to be the heir apparent. It’s unknown why he was not named (though there is the possibility that he may not want the job). Another early favorite for the job was former CFO Christine McCarthy, but as of last month, she is no longer with the company. Co-Chairman of Disney Entertainment Dana Walden is also a potential candidate. With a TV and film background himself, Iger may be once bitten and twice shy about putting a “Parks guy” in the corner office and sticking with what he knows- entertainment. However, all signs point to a contract extension for Iger rather than a replacement. Training a replacement will take a substantial amount of time, and time is not currently on Mr. Iger’s side.
This may be for the best. The company has navigated through some choppy waters in the last three years. From a worldwide pandemic to a political war, things at Disney have been turbulent, to say the least. A steady captain and calm read may be just what Disney needs to pull through. While we may not love everything the company is doing, it undeniably flourished under Iger’s first term. The devil you know is better than the one you don’t, as the saying goes.