It’s no secret that Abigail Disney — granddaughter of Roy O. Disney and great-niece of Walt — does not like the direction that the Walt Disney Company has been going in the past few years.
She has spoken out numerous times against Disney’s labor practices, especially when it comes to who work at Disneyland and and now she is set to make her documentary premiere that takes an even deeper look into the House of Mouse. The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24.
Abigail recently spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the documentary film and Disney’s leadership under new CEO Bob Chapek and had this to say:
“Bob Chapek was the guy who presided over all of the changes at Disneyland and Disney World that we’re talking about in this film — dynamic scheduling, a euphemism for jerking them around so they can’t get a second job and they never make 40 hours a week and they don’t qualify for health care. Taking a department of 250, shaving it to 200 and expecting them all to do the same work in the same amount of time. There are a thousand ways they’ve been cutting costs, and much of it came from Bob Chapek and under his command. So I don’t really have very optimistic expectations. If anything, it’ll probably get worse.”
Abigail Disney is not the only person who’s not a fan of Disney’s new CEO. Bob Chapek took the reins from former CEO Bob Iger and has struggled to find his footing with legions of Disney fans. Fans and Guests are unhappy with the removal of many free programs and their paid-for replacements, including includes Disney Genie+ replacing FastPass and Magical Express being replaced by Mears. A petition to fire Chapek at Change.org has even made the rounds online, already amassing about 100,000 signatures.
In addition to being asked how she felt about current leadership and decision-making at the company, Ms. Disney was also asked what inspired her to do this deep-dive into the company that her family created. Here is her response:
“Back in 2018 or 2019, I had already been talking to the workers at Disney, just quietly for my own sake. Everything I have is based on what they do, and for me to ignore what they were saying when they appealed to me directly just seemed inhuman. Honestly, I wanted to believe Disney was better than that. I know that’s really naive, and there are so many naive assumptions I’ve had to give up.
“But there was a time when Disney really did see itself as a company that was contributing to the world. I would go [to Disneyland] with my grandfather and almost every time, he would pick up a piece of garbage. I asked him why he did that, and he said, ‘Because nobody’s too good to pick up a piece of garbage, and I want the people who work here to know that I know that.’ He would tell me, ‘These people work so hard, you need to respect them.’ So to have been raised that way, and then to find myself years later listening to them say they have to choose between insulin and food, I couldn’t just sit by and let it happen.”
Abigail Disney hasn’t been actively involved with The Walt Disney Company for years, and she has spoken out against many of the company’s policy decisions in recent years. She even wrote to presidential candidates in 2019, asking them to support a wealth tax. In 2020, she was one of 80 millionaires to state that they should pay a higher tax rate.
Ms. Disney’s potential inheritance would have made her a billionaire, but the heiress turned it down. She has said in the past that her family’s extreme wealth has made her uncomfortable as she does not feel like she has earned the billions they are worth.