After Six Months Back, Is Iger Any Better Than Chapek?

Bob iger
Credit: Disney, Pixabay

Bob Chapek didn’t make many friends during his tenure as the CEO of The Walt Disney Company. He wasn’t well-liked by fans, coworkers, or Hollywood. This made it easy to criticize him because one is far more willing to turn a blind eye to a likable person than a villain (or a scapegoat). Bob Iger, on the other hand, exudes charisma and charm. He’s well-liked by Hollywood and coworkers. After an abysmal stint with Chapek, even fans forgot that they previously hated Iger.

Bob Iger and Bob Chapek

Credit: Disney

His return seemed to signal forgiveness (or selective amnesia) among fans. It appears that bygones have become bygones. Fans are convinced the magic will come back now that Iger has returned to the helm. Iger is lifted up as a hero! Disney’s majestic savior! He’s even been exalted to almost Walt-like status amongst fans. Does he deserve any of it? No…and yes…but mostly no. Let me explain.

Disney’s wheel grinds at an almost glacial pace. Things simply do not happen quickly within the company. With only a 2-year term as CEO, very few of Chapek’s ideas were implemented. Most of what fans love to hate currently results from Iger’s tenure as CEO.

a phone in front of cinderella castle with disney genie logo

Credit: Disney

It’s easy to forget that Genie+ is Iger’s baby, not Chapek’s. While the planning and paid line-skipping system was put in place by Bob Chapek, it was announced in 2019. Iger paraded the idea of Genie+ around proudly. He was the one, not Chapek, who tried to sell us on what a game-changer it would be. Those of you hoping Iger would get rid of the expensive option are going to be disappointed. It isn’t going anywhere because he was the one who championed it in the first place.

Paid resort parking is now a thing of the past. We love that. It makes planning our Disney Vacation much easier not to have to budget parking costs. However, we haven’t forgotten who implemented them in the first place. That was Bob Iger’s doing. Sure, he’s also the one who took it away, but there wouldn’t have been a need without his greedy policy to begin with. Can you really put this in the win column for him? Eh…that’s debatable.

Meanwhile, he mentioned that he wasn’t fond of the price increases implemented by Bob Chapek. Cool. Neither are we. He hasn’t done anything about them, though. Iger is, at his core, a showman. He is also a masterful people-person. Saying he doesn’t like the pricing without correcting the pricing just feels like lip service. He told us what we wanted to hear, but talk is cheap, and I don’t personally put a lot of stock in how he feels about something. I care much more about what he does about something, and so far, he’s done nothing about pricing.

Bob iger Disney  maintenence

Credit: Twitter/@ozborn82

Maintenance doesn’t seem to have improved with Iger’s return. He had a chance to renew his commitment to the Parks by really focusing on and investing in the rapid deterioration around Walt Disney World. He hasn’t. An entire building has remained damaged at Hollywood Studios for months. Fans notice new issues daily and take to social media to discuss how Disney Parks seem to have gone downhill. Iger’s return as CEO has not changed this.

Bob Iger

Credit: Disney

On the movies and entertainment front, Disney continues to flop. Iger promised a restructuring that would put decision-making back in the hands of creatives, rather than suits in C-suite offices. That’s a wonderful first step, but it’s not enough to save Disney animation. The films that are excelling are films without controversy. If Disney wants to regain their title as Animation King, they need to leave the agenda out of their movies. Fans have pled with Disney to reverse course on this, but every time Disney has doubled down. You don’t succeed by telling a large portion of your fan base, “we don’t care what you think.” The recent failure of movies such as Elemental, Strange World, and Lightyear should be proof of that. There is a time and place for activism. Children’s movies aren’t it. Iger, thus far, has not gotten the memo.

In 2024 Disney’s Dining Plan is returning, and Park reservations are going away. That’s a definite improvement. We could say that the reasoning isn’t as straightforward and generous as Iger would have you believe, but we will just take it at face value for now. Regardless of the reason, this is a change that fans have been clamoring for, and we are very excited about a return to “the way things were.” These changes will definitely be an improvement to the guest experience.

Overall, Iger has done some things right, and he’s missed the mark on others. In his half year back in charge, there has been a lot of talk but very little action, at least not positive action. We are skeptical of his elevation to hero status. Much of that seems undeserved. Time will tell if he makes good on the things he’s said or if it’s just another way to manipulate consumer emotion. Until then, we wouldn’t agree that Iger is the knight in shining armor that many make him out to be.

About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.