Disney has a long history of restructuring its corporate structure whenever necessary. Sunday night’s vote by the board to fire embattled CEO Bob Chapek, and to ask Bob Iger to return was a perfect example of that.
Chapek was appointed to the Disney board in February 2020. During his tenure, the company has been a hotbed of controversy. His willingness to compromise to the demands of woke cast members about Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law was the most controversial move to draw ire from many Disney fans.
Many of Disney’s LGBTQ cast members fell prey to the false portrayal of the law by the media as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. They pressured Chapek, who was then forced to speak out against the bill. This led to Disney losing its special governing structure, which it had enjoyed for more than 50 years, with the blessings of the state.
This episode also ended Disney’s long-standing policy of being relatively apolitical, and courting politicians on both sides of the aisle who can act in the company’s best interests. Chapek was also unaffected by the clash with Florida. It revealed the awakening that Disney’s creatives were seeking.
The stock market suffered as Disney was enthralled by the controversy. Chapek’s fight with Florida wasn’t the only thing that happened to Disney. His watch saw Disney Parks abandon the highly successful FastPass+ system that allowed guests to skip certain lines and replace it with a more expensive option.
Chapek allowed parks to require guests to reserve a park, which was originally a crowd control measure after the pandemic. Chapek and his staff made many changes to the vacation experience that have taken away much of the fun and spontaneity from visiting the parks.
The quality of their parks experiences is also a problem, according to guests. A September survey revealed that over two-thirds (or more) of Disney guests felt that Disney has “lost its magic” recently.
Disney Dining reports that in addition to higher ticket prices, Guests are also reporting food quality and portions decreasing. “Guests are finding that their Disney World hotel rooms are lacking in quality, even though they are priced at an all-time high.”
Disney Dining reports that nearly half of respondents said they postponed a Walt Disney World trip because of the high cost. The cost of a Disney World vacation has risen to 92%, which is a significant increase from the previous poll.
Iger has agreed that he will return to the company after two years.
She continued: “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) November 21, 2022
Iger was previously the CEO of the company from 2005 to 2020. That era was one that saw creativity and growth.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that “Iger took Disney to new heights when he acquired Pixar for $ 7.4 billion in 2006, Marvel, for $ 4 billion in 2009, and Lucasfilm, for $ 4 billion in 2012.” “This created a powerful company that saw it surpass $ 10 billion in global box-office sales in 2019,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. “Disney closed the $71.3 billion, unprecedented acquisition of Fox — which included 20th Century Fox studio and Fox Searchlight — in the same year. This created a global content powerhouse.”
Disney was also successful during the Iger years. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Disney’s market cap was approximately $55 billion when Iger assumed control in 2005. It rose to $260 Billion in January 2020 and fell to $167 Billion as of Friday.
Susan Arnold, Chair of the Board, said in a statement that “We thank Bob Chapek” for his services to Disney throughout his long career. This included navigating the company through the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. “The Board concluded that Bob Iger, as Disney enters an increasingly complex period in industry transformation, is uniquely positioned to lead the Company during this pivotal time.”
I am a Disney enthusiast and an amateur Disney historian. This is the best Disney decision. Chapek was a horrible CEO and it was time to replace him. Disney fans worldwide look to Iger for help in restoring Disney to its best days of creating top-tier entertainment for guests and family-friendly entertainment for all.