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bob chapek
Credit: WSJ/Canva Creation

Not so Fast: Shareholders don’t have the power to oust Disney CEO Chapek

According to experts weighing in on the subject, shareholders have their proverbial carts before their proverbial horses.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about a shareholder coup of sorts that aims to oust Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek from his post amid a growing distaste for changes across a wide assortment of Disney’s offerings. Disney’s theme park fans are especially angered by price increases across the parks for things like annual passes and the removal of once-upon-a-time freebies like Memory Maker (with an Annual Pass purchase) and Fastpasses.

Bob chapek at hollywood studios

Credit: Disney

RELATED: Here’s how a famous comedian’s joke about Disney’s FastPass+ turned into a SuperBowl commercial¬†

Just how do shareholders plan to overthrow King Chapek?

Disney’s annual shareholder meeting is only a month away, and a proxy vote is on the agenda. Shareholders are planning to vote against Chapek in the election, ousting him from his ivory tower and restoring peace and magic to all the lands of the Disney Parks. There’s just one problem with that. Actually, there are several problems with this.

It’s no secret that many Disney fans do not double as Chapek fans. Chapek has been seated comfortably at the helm of The Walt Disney Company since early 2020, and many fans–especially Disney Parks fans–feel that Chapek’s is an administration of demise, of destruction–an administration that, to some, seeks to undo what it took Walt Disney, his team, the Imagineers, and thousands of others years and years to build.

And they don’t like it.

cartoon of bob chapek

Credit: Ben Kirchner

Now, a growing number of Disney’s fans who are also shareholders in The Walt Disney Company plan to make their voices heard by voting not to keep Chapek on the Board of Directors. That’s problem #1. The vote isn’t about keeping or ousting Chapek as it relates to his role as CEO. Next month’s shareholders’ vote is strictly about the Board of Directors, and it’s not just Chapek on the vote, but all 11 Board members. Removing Chapek from the Board won’t necessarily bring about the change that angry shareholders are seeking. Chapek’s CEO post has no “for sale” sign in the driveway.

RELATED: Imagineers unfreeze Walt’s head, and he’s furious with Bob Chapek over the destruction of his parks

Problem #2 becomes evident when you consider that most fans who are shareholders don’t hold the number of those shares necessary to bring about a massive change in the makeup of Disney’s Board. So even if ridding the Board of Chapek would satisfy shareholders, it isn’t probable.

Another Disney exec faced a similar fate in 2004 when 43% of the shareholders used those shares to give a strong voice to the growing unrest over then-CEO Michael Eisner. Incidentally, that 43% was thanks to many of Disney’s large shareholders, including Walt’s nephew Roy and PIXAR’s head Steve Jobs. It wasn’t a large enough vote to boot Eisner from his seat, but Disney read the message from shareholders loud and clear. Eisner was demoted as Chairman of the Board and then resigned as CEO only 12 months later.

And Problem #3 might even be the biggest problem of all. The congregation of Chapek-booters is largely comprised of theme park fans angry about change. They’re also frustrated by long lines at the parks and higher prices for annual passes. But many of Disney’s shareholders are investment giants. They aren’t buying shares for the perk of claiming ownership in the House of Mouse; they’re buying shares anticipating a return–a hefty return. So to those shareholders, word of longer lines in the midst of an increase in ticket prices creates a resounding “cha-ching” in their ears. Why would those shareholders vote to make any big change when it’s all good news for them?

bob chapek

Credit: WSJ/Canva Creation

Investment giants know about Genie+ and Lightning Lane too, and they don’t have nearly the problem with those so-called “inflated” costs as individual shareholders might. After all, they stand to gain sizable ROIs because of them.

About Becky Burkett

I'm an enthusiastic writer who finds joy in random things like cold weather, snow, "I Love Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," journals full of blank paper, countdowns to Christmas, the month of December, "Toy Story," "Sleeping Beauty," my 4 kids, my 4 shih tsus, Disney Parks history, Imagineering and visiting the parks. I think Walt Disney is the standard against which genius should be measured. I love to write about Disney Parks, Disney history, all things Imagineering and PIXAR. I adore the colors, story and art direction of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (Team Make it Blue!), and "Toy Story" is life (minus "Toy Story 4"). I believe Walt Disney was so much more than an entertainment and theme park tycoon; I believe he was a savant with a vision for life and how it could be if happiness and kindness are strived for. I love Biergarten at EPCOT and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian. You can find me croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room, chillin' on the PeopleMover or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. I'm always looking for Imagineers in the parks, and I'd rather meet Joe Rohde and Tony Baxter than anyone in Hollywood! Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!