The Next Disney CEO Is a Mystery, But Disney Fans Know Who They DON’T Want

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Left: Christine McCarthy poses on a chair in a black sweater. Right: Josh D'Amaro smiles in front of Disney Studios.

In June 2022, The Walt Disney Company board officially extended CEO Bob Chapek’s contract by three years. They promised him a $20 million or more annual bonus based on company performance, despite Disney Parks fans’ dissatisfaction with the CEO.

So it came as a shock late one Sunday night in November when The Walt Disney Company announced that Chapek had stepped down, and former Disney CEO Bob Iger would return to take the position for two years.

disney ceo bob chapek (left) and executive chairman bob iger (right)
Credit: Disney

As part of his contract, Iger is required to select and train a new Disney CEO to take his place. Rumors are already swirling about who will take his place in two years – some insider sources claim Iger will instead sell The Walt Disney Company to Apple – and fans are firmly against some of the potential candidates.

Chapek and Iger: A Brief History

Iger hand-picked Chapek, former Chairman of Parks and Resorts, as his successor in early 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek reportedly had a falling out with returned Disney CEO Bob Iger in early 2022, with insiders suggesting the pair no longer communicated. Iger reportedly spoke freely about his disdain for some of Chapek’s decisions.

Bob Iger (left) and Bob Chapek (right) at Galaxy's Edge
Mr. Iger and Mr. Chapek at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Credit: Disney

Nevertheless, Iger decided to move forward with Chapek’s hiring freezes and future layoffs. He’s also expected to fix mistakes made with Disney Plus, the streaming service he dreamt up, and repair the relationship between Walt Disney World Resort and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

In February, fans and Disney Cast Members led protests around the country after public records revealed that Disney had donated to many politicians who sponsored the Parental Rights in Education Act, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

bob chapek
Credit: Screenshot via Annual Shareholders Meeting

The Parental Rights in Education Act “prohibits any instruction about sexuality or gender between kindergarten and third grade, or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” according to NPR.

Related: “Let Kids Be Kids,” #BoycottDisney Explodes Over “Don’t Say Gay” Falling Out

Disney released a statement on March 3 but didn’t directly mention the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Fans again asked then-CEO Chapek to condemn the anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, and Pixar staff wrote The Walt Disney Company a letter asking the company to take a stronger stance against the bill. Chapek then called DeSantis to tell him that Disney did not support the bill. Disney also promised to pause political donations in Florida after donating $4.8 million to Florida campaign funds in 2020.

bob chapek with mickey and minnie
Credit: Disney

DeSantis said he warned Disney not to get involved in the Florida controversy, later introducing legislation to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. The bill later passed, meaning Walt Disney World Resort will not be in control of its municipal services as of next year. A lawsuit against DeSantis for his actions against Reedy Creek is ongoing.

Other conservative Republican politicians like Senator Josh Hawley, Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator Marco Rubio publicly attacked Disney for its stance on the law and refusal to censor a gay kiss in Pixar’s Lightyear (2022). President Joe Biden joked that right-wing politicians wanted to “storm Cinderella Castle.”

Buzz Lightyear
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios

As Disney CEO, Iger aims to keep Disney out of politics but says the company will defend its LGBTQIA+ Cast Members and fans. He also spoke in support of gun control at a recent benefit.

Disney CFO Christine M. McCarthy

Christine McCarthy is reportedly the number one contender for CEO after Iger’s contract ends. As Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, McCarthy allegedly led the charge for Chapek’s termination.

Christine McCarthy poses in front of trees, wearing a black fur-lined jacket.
Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Though fans supported McCarthy’s gunning against Chapek, the CFO soured her relationship with Disney Park fans in 2021 when she made an inappropriate comment during The Walt Disney Company’s quarterly earnings call.

After announcing that Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort would cut food portion sizes to save money, McCarthy said the change would be “good for some people’s waistlines.”

Two Mickey Mouse shaped waffles on a plate with strawberries and orange slices.
Credit: Disney

Many Disney Parks fans were offended by these comments. Despite reports of declining food quality, many were frustrated that McCarthy would insult Guests instead of address valid complaints.

It’s been a year, but McCarthy’s comments remain fresh in fans’ minds amid rumors that she may succeed Iger. @mattmckeev wrote on Twitter:

@WaltDisneyCo McCarthy is not fit to be the next CEO. She has no vision or imagination… plus she called all her guests fat in an earnings call. #disney #disneyworld #disneyland #waltdisney

Based on her comments, others believe that McCarthy was behind many of the unpopular decisions that led to Chapek’s termination. Some believe she sabotaged his career and let him take the fall for her mistakes. @CordDisney wrote:

Someone has to say it – Christine McCarthy is the sole reason why @Disney is failing in all of its aspects. This company is dying on all fronts and if rumours are correct Christine McCarthy will be the last CEO of Disney. Although, maybe Bob Iger will do something to prevent it.

Iger and McCarthy haven’t commented on speculation that she will replace him as Disney CEO.

Who do fans think fits the bill?

josh d'Amaro tshirt
Credit: Streaming the Magic

Fans may not want McCarthy to lead The Walt Disney Company, but they have plenty of other ideas. One of the leading contenders is the current Chairperson of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Josh D’Amaro.

Related: “Walt Would Hate It,” Diehard Disney Fan Upset By Change to Magic Kingdom

Despite his support of the controversial Park Pass Reservation system and Genie+, D’Amaro has an overwhelmingly positive reputation among fans for listening to their concerns and caring about Walt Disney’s vision. @DevonaRavenhold wrote:

I would like to make a formal request to not lean toward Christine as next CEO. Walt is not in her heart, she has made disturbing comments towards Disney goers and I fear for the parks. Josh would be a fabulous option if you would please give it consideration. Thank you!

Other fan-supported candidates include Marvel President Kevin Feige and Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm:

Kathleen Kennedy will be the next CEO of Disney.

I’m calling it right now everyone. Bob iger is back but only for 2 years. In 2 years time expect to here that Kevin Feige is stepping down from the MCU and handing off to his successor to become the new Disney CEO in 2 years time. Watch. #Disney

Inside the Magic will continue to follow the race for the next Disney CEO and report on any rumored replacements.

Who do you want to succeed Bob Iger? 

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