CEO Bob Chapek Claims Disney Is Not The Place For Politics

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Bob Chapek with Mickey and Minnie

Credit: Disney

The last year or so has been quite a turbulent one for The Walt Disney Company. Controversy has seemed to gravitate toward all aspects of the company for the entirety of 2022, starting with the very critical reactions to how the company handles its response to Florida’s highly-contested Parental Rights Bill, which is more commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

bob chapek
Credit: Screenshot via Annual Shareholders Meeting

Related: Disney World Experience Reopens After 2-Year Closure

Disney decided to remain quiet on the bill, at first, that is. To many, this response, or lack thereof, was not satisfying at all, lacking any true agency. On the flip side, many thought Disney should stay out of the issue completely, but considering the company made political contributions to several sponsors of the legislation, Disney had already taken a stance.

Eventually, Disney and Chapek himself spoke out against the bill, even pledging millions of dollars to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which was eventually declined. Disney found itself traveling further into a PR nightmare when walkouts were held company-wide in protest of Florida’s controversial bill.

Bob Chapek at Goldman Sachs
Credit: Goldman Sachs

Things between Florida and The Walt Disney Company so much that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special ruling that essentially allows Disney to act as its own form of government.

DeSantis and other Republican figures rallied against the company in an attempt to push back against Disney stepping out politically. While Disney has certainly sided one way or another in the past, there was not quite a time when Disney found itself in the middle of a political discussion, especially one so fierce. Currently, the state of Disney’s Reedy Creek is up in the air.

Remember, all of these events happened in the last few months, permanently cementing 2022 as one of the most tumultuous years in Disney Company history. However, Disney may be backtracking on how political it decides to get in the future.

magic kingdom crowd levels memorial day weekend
Credit: Inside the Magic

It was recently reported by Hollywood screenwriter Kamran Pasha that Bob Chapek, who serves as The Walt Disney Company’s CEO, spoke with Kareem Daniel (Chairperson of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution) at El Capitan Theatre in front of an audience on Thursday.

During the meeting, a lot was discussed, including Park and leadership strategies and the current state of Disney. Most notably, Chapek gave his own take on politics within The Walt Disney Company and Parks. Surprisingly, Bob Chapek declared for the first time publicly that The Walt Disney Company would attempt to exit politics and ideology going forward.

Specifically, Chapek said:

“When people come to a Disney park they don’t walk in with their political views on their sleeves. People don’t come to Disney to get political points of view, either from the left or the right. Disney is a source of positivity in the world, no matter your sex, race, or politics. That’s a core focus for me.

bob chapek onstage
Credit: Disney

Integrated Planning Associate Sophia Pino (@sophiapino) shared an image from the event, which you can check out below:

DMED Town Hall with Bob Chapek and Kareem Daniel at the El Capitan Theatre!

We aren’t exactly sure what this means, but it is in sharp contrast with how the company has acted in the last few months.  It is important to note that Disney is engaged in an initiative that further promotes diversity and representation in all of its Parks and films, something that some fans may feel is political in nature anyway. However, to most, the prospect of improved inclusivity and diversity is an incredibly welcome one that we can’t wait to see more of in Disney Parks, movies, music, and television.

Perhaps one of the biggest moves in Disney history is also part of this initiative, with Disney completely retheming its iconic Splash Mountain attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

An official poster announcing Tiana's Bayou Adventure, opening late 2024.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Related: Disney Attraction Building Now Officially Closed, Inaccessible to Guests

While Splash Mountain is a very iconic and beloved attraction and has become one of the most recognizable rides in the world, the basis for the ride does come from a film that Disney has done its best to hide. Disney’s Song of the South (1946) is a film that many have deemed racist for its depictions of the Reconstruction-era American South.

The film has been effectively erased from Disney’s ever-expanding catalog of animated films, though with enough digging, you are sure to find it online. While slightly sad, we at Inside the Magic couldn’t be more excited for the new ride, now called “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure,” which will be opening in 2024. 

Splash Retheme
Credit: Disney

We can apparently expect a lot more information about this retheme at Disney’s upcoming D23 Expo, which takes place in September.

Disney D23 is “The largest Disney fan event in the world,” and this year’s expo will be no different. This year’s D23 Expo celebrates the wonderful worlds of The Walt Disney Company, including Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars across film, television, theme parks, and more!

The event starts on September 9, but we hope you have already bought your passes because, as of now, tickets are now completely sold out. While we don’t have any concrete information on what will be discussed, we have a few things to look forward to, especially when it comes to the Disney Parks. One of the major projects fans have been clamoring for ever since 2017’s D23 expo is the official opening of Magic Kingdom’s brand-new TRON roller coaster.

What Disney Park project are you most excited for?

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