To say that people look at The Walt Disney Company differently nowadays could possibly be the ultimate understatement. Many Disney fans love to look back at the years when the company was run by CEO Bob Iger and smile at the memories. Iger retired from his position as CEO in 2020 and put in his place the then-Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products — Bob Chapek. Since he became CEO in February 2020, Chapek has struggled to find his footing amongst Disney fans and Disney employees.
Recently, Chapek has found his name in the news for the surprising firing of Peter Rice — Disney Chairman of General Entertainment Content — and replacing him with Dana Walden. Rice was reportedly incredibly popular in both Hollywood and with Disney employees and was seen as a potential successor to Chapek. Some think Chapek saw him as a threat. Others felt the move to fire Rice was a terrible one that made Disney “uninvestable”. However, Disney’s Board of Directors stood by Chapek and even released a public statement in which they supported his decision to get rid of Rice.
Despite the overwhelmingly negative public reaction to the Rice firing, it seems that Chapek may be sticking around for quite a while. According to an anonymous Disney insider who spoke with Business Insider, Disney’s Board of Directors is getting ready to renew Chapek’s contract. The source said that the Board is meeting later this month, as well as in September, and will most likely renew Chapek’s contract during one of those meetings. Chapek’s contract with the Walt Disney Company is set to expire in February 2023.
Recently, Disney and Chapek have divided fans over the company’s fight with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. On one side, you have the fans who felt Disney wasn’t quick enough to condemn the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill. On the other side, there were those who said they were no longer supporting Disney because they thought the company should have stayed quiet on any opinion they had of the bill. Since speaking out, Governor DeSantis has signed a bill to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, ultimately stripping Disney of its self-governing status.
On top of that, there are those who are not fans of Chapek because they feel he is letting the Parks fall into disarray. Many Guests have recently found that the quality of the food at the Parks — especially Walt Disney World Resort — is not where it used to be. Others are noticing that many rides and attractions seem to be falling into disrepair. While, in the past, it seemed that things would be fixed incredibly quickly, now malfunctions are lasting for days and weeks.
It will be interesting to see just how long it takes for Disney to announce that they have renewed Chapek’s contract. Disney’s stock has been struggling and declining — recently losing 5 years of gains — and Chapek has continued to remain controversial. However, his first years in the role have been anything but traditional as, just one month into his tenure, all Disney Parks were forced to shut down for months (or even more than a year) because of the COVID-19 pandemic.