Bravo Bob Chapek! It takes a special kind of incompetence to get fired on a Sunday night. I should know, as a working class man in the service industry, I am no stranger to a good old fashioned firing. Yet, I have never been fired on a Sunday night.
That is sacred ground. That is when the drinks are poured. The TV comes on, you catch up with your family. You enjoy your escape from your corporate surroundings and enjoy the few hours of incomparable bliss that you have before starting all over again on Monday morning.
The Board Members of The Walt Disney Company enjoyed no such thing on November 20th. It was then, when an emergency meeting was called and Bob Chapek made his slow, lonely walk to the Hot Dog Hills Gallows.
He was swiftly removed from the Wonderful World Of Disney, and replaced by the man who bequeathed the throne to him. Bob Iger is back, Bob Chapek is free on Thanksgiving, and Disney has some light appearing at the end of what once was an extremely long, and extremely dark tunnel.
For many it was a long time coming.
2020 Was Not A Good Year
When Bob Iger stepped down for the first time in 2020, Disney was in a god spot. The MCU was riding high with Avengers: Endgame wowing audiences. While met with mixed reception by fans, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker still managed to pack people into the theaters. The Disney Plus streaming service was captivating fans with its extensive library. Things were looking up, and Disney was seen as a powerhouse that was churning out one hit after the other.
It was a perfect time to step down for Iger. Disney was on top and he was ready to move on. While it semmed sudden to everyone outside of the company, it had actually been a plan that was set in motion for months. Iger was ready to go and he had a handpicked successor ready to replace him.
Then 2020 reared its ugly head. COVID-19 was holding the world captive. Theaters closed. Theme Parks were shut down. People were confined to their homes for the foreseeable future. This is how Bob Chapek would begin his brief reign as the CEO of Disney.
No Wonder, Just Blunders
Following Bob Iger was never going to be an easy thing to do. For fifteen years, Iger had built and shaped Disney in his image. For all intents and purposes, he is the architect of modern day Disney as we know it.
That is a large shadow to cast on a quiet man who was used to keeping his head down and crunching numbers. Everyone knew that mistakes were going to be made, that is the nature of the business. Nobody saw this much going wrong this fast.
- Disney failed to renegotiate with Scarlett Johansson when they decided to release Black Widow simultaneously on Disney Plus and in theaters. This lead to Johansson taking Disney to Court, since her payout relied heavily on box office bonuses. The situation would be compounded when Chapek would greenlight a statement that was seen as libelous against the Black Widow actress. The suit was settled swiftly. Business rivals would describe it as “embarassing”.
- Disney has always been seen as a supporter of LBGTQA+ rights. So when Florida passed the Florida Parental Rights In Education Act, many looked to Disney to weigh in on the matter. Pressure was further applied when Bob Iger publicly voiced his opposition to the controversial bill. Chapek stayed silent and was met with employee walkouts. Then Chapek reversed course. This would draw the ire of Ron Desantis and Jeopardize Disney’s political interests in the Sunshine State. Many perks, particularly the Reedy Creek Improvement District were now put in jeopardy.
- After the political debacle, Chapek clearly set out to rid himself of a potential rival by inexplicably firing Chairman of Disney Entertainment Television Peter Rice. This was seen as a surprise to many. Rice, a veteran of Rupert Murdochs regime at 20th Century Fox, has been regarded by many Hollywood insiders as one of the best executives in the business.
The Theme Parks Lacked The Disney Experience
Chapek’s handling of Disney’s theme park division has been one of the more noticeable problems that the company has been facing during his tenure. Disney fans have grown wary of his excessive price hikes. That isn’t all that park goers have complained about.
- Rides have been in disrepair and the park has been described as filthy. Up until now, cleanliness has been the gold standard for Disney results.
- The Galactic StarCruiser has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. Average fans were priced out, with rates hovering at $1200.00 per person, per night. The Hotel has failed to meet projected numbers and as a result has started cutting their rates. Those cut rates will only apply to Disney Vacation Club members though.
- Season Pass Holders have not been happy. Pass Holders have been met with blackout dates. Prices keep rising, and some passes have been discontinued altogether.
- The Parks have been understaffed to the point where fan favorite experiences such as the second location of Bibbity Bobbity Boutique has not been open. The dining plan has yet to be reintroduced. The normal character meet and greets are few and far between. This has forced families who want to meet their favorite characters to purchase pricey character meals. To those who say that “forced” is a strong word, try taking a four year old to DisneyWorld and telling them that they can’t see Mickey Mouse. I dare You.
- Food portions have been reduced while the prices have risen. This has been an all to common gripe since Chapek and CFO Christine McCarthy ordered these changes to be made.
As you can see, Bob Chapek’s tenure was a bumpy ride at best. This is just the beginning as I am not done yet. We have a lot more to unpack.
So stay tuned for more on this constantly evolving saga. Part Two is coming after Thanksgiving.
What do you think, Geek Faithful? Did Bob Chapek fail? Is Bob Iger still the only guy for the job? Sound off in the comments below!
Thank you for reading. When I am not writing, I am enjoying time with my wife Barbara, my two year old daughter Frankie, and my loyal hound Marbles.
For more fresh geeky content and insightful discussion, check out our Youtube channel. Stay Geeky, and Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
November 25, 2022 at 8:46 am
I think it would have been a challenge for Bob Iger as well. COVID turned the world upside-down, so I don’t ‘blame’ Chapek.
I do believe in Disney, their Imagineers, and the creed: Together Everyone Achieves Magic. I think the team will put its creative, business-savvy minds together to create more and les expensive Disney Magic.
I do think it’s become a bit ridiculous in that one must reserve a park ahead of time, reserve your ride, dining, and basically where you’ll pee next. It’s gotten disenchanting for even a major Diseny goer – like myself. Remember, Walt wanted the AMERICAN FAMILY to come and enjoy the parks, not just the ELITES, so Disney has some work to do. If any company can adjust prices and schedules and dominate crowd control while keeping mom, dad, and the kiddos happy -it’s this one-of-a-kind company that will excel to above excellence again.