Bob Iger is back in as the CEO of The Walt Disney Company after Bob Chapek was fired from his position on Sunday evening.
Chapek, who had taken over as the CEO beginning in 2020, was not well-received by Disney fans, and there are now reports confirming that Disney executives– including Bob Iger– had been rallying against Chapek for the last several months. The poor earnings report that was revealed earlier this month was “the last straw,” according to a report from the New York Times.
During his 15 years as CEO, from 2005 to 2020, Bob Iger helped build Disney into one of the world’s most successful and admired media and entertainment companies with a strategic vision focused on creative excellence, technological innovation and international growth. He expanded on Disney’s legacy of unparalleled storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox and increased the Company’s market capitalization fivefold during his time as CEO.
Now, he’ll be counted upon to do many of the same things again.
Though there have been downsides to Disney as a company, the Disney Parks division has easily been the strongest. Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort have both seen record numbers this year, and this likely means we won’t see Bob Iger make many major changes.
However, there are certain issues that fans have continuously brought up– and have since begged Iger to do something about since he stepped into office– that the CEO will at least have to address.
Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning Lane
Disney’s official description of Disney Genie says that “you’ve never had a friend like this.”
“Tap into Disney Genie service and Disney Genie+ service, conveniently built into the My Disney Experience mobile app. Once you log into your Disney account, these services magically make your theme park visit easier and more fun. It’s like having a genie in the palm of your hand.
Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro, Disney Genie service can help you get the most of your visit to Walt Disney World Resort,” the Disney website states.
However, many users of the new system have said it is “anything but a friend.” Disney just announced a sliding scale change that has allowed prices to Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane to skyrocket.
As a matter of fact, during the week of Thanksgiving, prices at Walt Disney World just reached an all-time high for Disney Genie+, coming in at $29.00 per person for the service, which allows Guests to book reservations for Disney attractions and then enter the Lightning Lane when it’s their turn, bypassing the standby line queue.
When Bob Iger was CEO of the company, Disney’s system was known as “FastPass+.” The system allowed Guests to book up to three attractions ahead of time so that they could reserve a chance to get in the FastPass line when it was their turn. The system wasn’t based on spending extra money, and was certainly more favorable among Guests.
While thousands of fans have already asked Iger to make a change to Disney Genie, it’s not likely that the CEO will embark on this mission, especially with all the revenue that Disney is currently bringing in from the extra paid service.
Disney Park Reservation System
While Bob Iger might not make the change that Guests want to see in Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane, one area that he could improve is the Disney Park Reservation system.
Put into place during the pandemic, the Disney Park Reservation system requires Guests to make a reservation to a theme park ahead of time. To enter a theme park, all Guests ages 3 and older must have a Park Reservation in addition to valid admission for the same park on the same date (limit one park per day). At this time, a Park Reservation is not required to visit a water park, however, reservation requirements are subject to change.
This has put a big damper on Park-Hopping and has made many Guests upset about how they must go about booking their Disney vacation.
Iger could do away with the Reservations, or at the very least, look into changes that may be more beneficial for those visiting the theme parks.
Disney World Annual Passes
Disney Park fans who didn’t already have their Annual Pass– or who didn’t renew during the pandemic– have been waiting patiently for the opportunity to purchase a Disney Incredi-Pass, Disney Sorcerer Pass, or Disney Pirate Pass. However, they’ve been denied as Disney announced a freeze of Annual Pass sales last November, which has remained in place throughout this year.
Disney announced that Annual Pass prices would be increasing when they do return at Walt Disney World Resort, but has not shared a date as of yet.
The new prices for APs can be seen below:
- Incredi-Pass: $1399 (was $1299)
- Sorcerer: $969 (was $899)
- Pirate: $749 (was $699)
- Pixie: $399 (no change) Renewals continue – but pricing not available.
It’s unclear what Iger might do to bring Disney World Annual Passes back. Disneyland announced the return of Magic Keys just this past week, and Guests waited in line for hours online to purchase one, with many unfortunately being denied. It can only be imagined what might happen when Walt Disney World Resort puts their Annual Passes back on sale.
Iger will have to balance this somehow, and it won’t be easy.
Annual Passes allow you to enjoy the magic all year long. Now is the time to answer the call and discover all the possibilities a Walt Disney World Annual Pass can bring. Annual Passes are subject to the Walt Disney World® Resort Annual Pass Terms and Conditions. To enter a theme park, each passholder must have a theme park reservation in addition to a valid pass. Park reservations are limited and are subject to availability and applicable pass blockout dates.
You can check disneyworld.com/pass for the latest updates on Annual Passes.
Bringing back the “Disney magic”
While the areas listed above are certainly high on the minds of Disney Park fans, there haven’t been many indications as of yet that Iger is going to make major changes to these aspects.
As a matter of fact, the opinion of this writer believes that the vast majority of the things listed above– like price hikes, Disney Genie+, and Disney Park Reservations– are all here to stay.
But, what might Iger do to improve the Disney Park experience? Well, it starts with the little things.
When he was in charge from 2005 through 2019, Disney was known as a place “where magic happens.” Disney Cast Members made magical experiences for the Guests. Disney took time to acknowledge “the little things” that made the Parks special. While these little things might not amount to much for some, it means the world to Disney fans.
While Iger certainly has challenges ahead of him and, mind you, he’s not without flaws, either. What one thing he might have going for him more than anything else is the fact that he seems to understand the importance of “the little things” in creating the Disney magic.
The expectation is that we’re still going to see price increases. We’re still going to see inconvenient systems. But, what we may finally see is the “magic” begin to return back to the Parks.
Bob Iger will focus on entertainment
Ultimately, Disney is flailing when it comes to entertainment.
While fans want to focus on the Disney Parks, the truth is that the division of the company posted $7.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022 and a whopping $28.7 billion in total revenue for the fiscal year 2022, which ended on October 1, 2022.
It’s entertainment, particularly streaming, where Disney is failing.
Disney reported an operating loss for its streaming segment of $1.47 billion for the quarter, which was about $800 million more than the year-earlier period. The company attributed the increase to higher losses at Disney+ and ESPN+ and lower results at Hulu.
Iger will likely have to make cuts– and this could include changing streaming services and offerings– to create better revenue moving forward in the company.
While Iger might not have all the answers, it does seem that The Walt Disney Company is confident in him moving forward.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board when the announcement was released. “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.”
“Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide—all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership,” she said.
What do you think Bob Iger will address first? Let us know in the comments!
Visit the official Disney website to plan your next magical vacation to Disney World’s water parks, four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district! Or, how about a trip to Disneyland Resort to experience the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure and the iconic attractions at Disneyland Park?