As we know, Disney Guests and fans are passionate and will make sure their voices are heard regarding attractions, products, and restaurants they may or may not approve of. This is most noticeable with Disney’s new Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane services, as many Guests either do not want to pay what their cost, or think the old systems were better.
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However, one of if not the most controversial things happening within the Disney community right now is the overall reception to Walt Disney Company’s newest CEO Bob Chapek. Chapek took on the role of CEO back in February of 2020 from Bob Iger, right before the entire world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, of course, taking control of a company during a pandemic is no easy task and a lot of issues cannot and should not be blamed on Chapek. However, many Guests do not approve of Chapek no matter the circumstances as they see him as nothing more than a profit-driven, “penny-pinching” corporate CEO rather than an imaginative and exciting visionary for the company and the Parks. We have not seen Chapek in full swing without a pandemic hindering him, however, so it will take time to give the new CEO a fair assessment.
Chapek has even come out saying he does not like being called a “cost-cutter” and does not see himself as one. Regardless, many Disney Guests just do not approve of Bob Chapek’s approach to the Disney Parks, with a petition to remove him gaining a lot of traction recently. Now, Guests have noticed a pretty public display of disapproval at the runDisney marathon event happening at the Magic Kingdom.
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Another big controversy right now is that in Florida, the state which houses the Walt Disney World Resort, there is a bill picking up traction essentially banning the discussion of all LGBTQ+ matters in elementary and middle schools. The Florida bill, deemed as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is now expected to pass the State Senate and be signed into law very soon.
A story that The Hollywood Reporter recently put out talked about a few executives who are close to Bob Chapek, revealing his stance on this new bill and the current political climate.
According to insider sources, Chapek is hesitant to take political sides or bring the company to these complex modern-day issues. For example, one source says Chapek balked at a proposal to weigh in on voting rights in the past, “Chapek is staunchly opposed to bringing Disney into issues he deems irrelevant to the company and its businesses,” this person says.
This is a far cry from former CEO Bob Iger’s approach to heated topics and issues. During his years at Disney, Iger weighed in on some hot-button issues such as the “heartbeat bill” back in 2019 that sought to ban abortions six weeks into pregnancy, saying it would be “very difficult” for Disney to continue to film productions in the state. “I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard,” he said.
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According to another source familiar with Iger’s and Chapek’s thinking, Iger tended to speak out not only when issues affected the company’s business interests but when they affected its employees, a number which now reaches nearly 200,000. This same source interestingly states that Chapek is trying to be more neutral on issues, being more concerned that Disney might be viewed as too liberal and left-leaning.
President Joe Biden has called the new bill “hateful” and Iger has joined in on the same thought process, publically posting to Twitter that he agreed with the president. Many responded to Iger asking him to chat with Chapek about taking a stand for the company. Of course, Iger is no longer working for Disney and does not hold any weight to make that kind of a change in the company.
Many have been saddened and disappointed by the company’s silence on this new “Don’t Say Gay” bill, especially since Walt Disney World resides in the home state of the bill. Interestingly, Disney has actually supported those who sponsored the bill. We are unsure if the Walt Disney Company will address it at all.
How do you feel about Bob Chapek as CEO? Let us know in the comments below.
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