Despite Efforts, Disney Has a Long Way to Regain Its Pristine Reputation

in Disney, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

Left: Robert Iger, returning Disney CEO. Right: Cast Members wearing facemasks, waving at Main Street, U.S.A, in Disneyland

Despite exciting plans and recent announcements, The Walt Disney Company has a long way to go to regain its pristine reputation.

The Walt Disney Company has created magic for one hundred years, winning the hearts of generations of fans, young and young at heart, with timeless and heartwarming stories, magical experiences at the Disney Parks worldwide, beloved characters, and so much more. However, fans think Disney has lost its magic in recent years due to controversial decisions being made throughout the company and multiple changes made at the Parks.

A mother and two children in front of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World during an after hours event
Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

From loathed changes introduced by former CEO Bob Chapek, including reservation systems at Disneyland and Disney World, Disney Genie+ service, and the complete stop in Annual Pass sales, to understaffing at the theme parks, controversial changes to beloved attractions, complaints about low wages, extensively delayed projects, allegedly forced inclusion in Disney media, and more, it would appear that The Walt Disney Company has a long way to go to regain its reputation.

Screenshot from The Proud Family Louder and Prouder, show on Disney Plus, in hot water for promoting "Anti-white" propaganda
Credit: Disney, screenshot via @cartoonishclaude on TikTok

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And while the surprising return of Bob Iger as CEO of the company has gotten engines turning within the company, working towards adding value to Disney Parks and showing appreciation for fans, Disney executives have stated that positive changes within the company are unrelated to Iger’s return.

family taking a photo at disney world after hours
Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

Related: Bob Iger’s Takeover Unrelated to Positive Disney Changes, Says Park Executive

Whether the changes across the company are related to his takeover or not, Bob Iger continues to push forward to regain Disney’s former reputation and hopefully gain back the hearts of thousands of Disney fans who have distanced themselves from the company. Join Inside the Magic to recap the latest announcements by Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Disney’s latest announcements

A lot was said during Bob Iger’s first Quarterly Earnings Call as newly returned Disney CEO, including the shocking announcement of a possible expansion coming to Disneyland Resort, making the Southern California theme park much more attractive to thousands of fans worldwide already.

Bob Iger with Cast Members
Credit: Robert Iger via Twitter

Related: Five Things We Learned From Bob Iger’s First Quarterly Earnings Call as Newly-Returned Disney CEO

Bob Iger revealed some truly exciting news for fans of James Cameron’s Avatar franchise, commenting that Disney plans to bring a “new Avatar experience” to Disneyland Resort. While the announcement was exciting and the possibilities are endless, no further information was revealed during the call, leaving the project’s timeframe and overview completely in the dark.

Avatar the Experience Gardens By The Bay Singapore Ikran Banshee Concept Art
Credit: Gardens By The Bay, 20th Century Studios

It is worth mentioning that the long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), brought several new offerings to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort and Shanghai Disney Resort, even sparking rumors of possible changes to Pandora – The World of Avatar. While the rumors were untrue, the possibility to capitalize on the smashing success of the Avatar franchise is undeniable, even when Pandora – The World of Avatar has been deemed a “chancy gamble.”

Iger also announced that after a challenging year at the box office with movies going to completely opposite extremes, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios would develop sequels to old and new fan-favorite franchises, likely aiming to regain audience appreciation and hoping for instant hits based on name recognition. Iger announced that Guests could soon expect sequels to Toy Story (1995), Frozen (2013), and Zootopia (2016).

Duke the Musical – "Zootopia+" heads back to the fast-paced mammal metropolis of Zootopia in a short-form series that dives deeper into the lives of some of the Oscar®-winning feature film's most intriguing characters. After being wrangled and arrested in a giant donut—compliments of Officer Judy Hopps—clever criminal weasel Duke (voiced by Alan Tudyk) reevaluates his life, pondering where he went wrong—staged in his own mind in "Duke The Musical." Directed by Josie Trinidad and Trent Correy, and produced by Nathan Curtis, "Zootopia+" streams on Disney+ beginning Nov. 9, 2022. © 2022 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

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Ironically, Iger failed to mention Disney’s latest hit. While Disney continues to bring its award-winning movie Encanto into the spotlight over a year after its premiere and Disney Plus debut — and with Disney releasing three different versions of the movie in little over a year — no plans for an Encanto sequel were announced. However, rumors regarding an Encanto-themed attraction coming to Disneyland and Disney World continue.

Mirabel Madrigal in Encanto
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Delays ‘Encanto’ Plans, Future Now Uncertain

However, not all the recent announcements were positive. Disney CEO Bob Iger also commented that The Walt Disney Company would have 7,000 layoffs companywide, significantly reducing the workforce at Disney Parks. The reduced workforce at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort is already a troubling issue at the Disney Parks, as Guests comment that Cast Members are overworked and underpaid, affecting customer service and Guest experience. This brings us to our next point, the problems The Walt Disney Company faces in the race to regain its reputation.

Problems within The Walt Disney Company

Thousands, if not millions, of former Disney fans have distanced themselves from the Parks and the company for several reasons. Misinterpreted efforts for inclusion, rising prices, decaying theme park conditions, and more have driven audiences away from Disneyland, Disney World, and The Walt Disney Company.

While a magical vacation at Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort is still possible, the multiple price increases on ticket and hotel prices, added services, the removal of the Disney Dining Plan, and limited availability make a Disney vacation out of reach for thousands of families across America and the world. 

mom taking picture of two daughters by cinderella castle at disney world
Credit: Disney

Jason Cochran, Frommer’s editor-in-chief, commented in an interview with Yahoo! Finance that changes to pricing across the Disney Resorts have been “pretty significant.” “I think if you ask most people what their biggest concern about with the Disney Park vacation that they want to give their families, pricing would be right up there. Rooms at some of the resorts at Walt Disney World cost almost $1,000 a night in some cases. And the way Disney’s been able to get a lot more money into its coffers is to charge people a little bit more when they go into the parks,” added Cochran.

Cochran also commented on the change from the free FastPass system to the paid Disney Genie+ service and Individual Lightning Lane at select rides at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. “That now is a revenue stream for Disney,” said the Frommers editor-in-chief, “And that $20 or $30 extra you’re going to pay every single day to guarantee that you’re going to ride the rides you want is on top of parking, on top of ticketing, on top of souvenirs and food. That’s a new increase.”

A couple of Guests using Disney Genie+ in front of Cinderella Castle at Disney World
Credit: Disney

Related: NFL Star Pushes For Construction of More Disney Parks

In addition to the price increases, many Guests consider that Disney Parks are no longer worth the money, as there has been a significant lack of investment in the last years, with few new attractions and upgrades at the Parks. Yes, Splash Mountain is being reimagined as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Disneyland and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Toontown is undergoing a complete reimagining at Disneyland Park, and TRON Lightcycle / Run will soon open at Magic Kingdom, but at least two of these projects have faced significant delays in their development, added to Disney’s slow construction of projects.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Disney has been embroiled in a heated conflict with Florida governor Ron DeSantis who, despite having gotten married at Walt Disney World Resort, has constantly attacked the company for promoting a “woke” ideology. The most recent development in the conflict gave Florida governor Ron DeSantis control of Disney’s special district board, Reedy Creek, after a year-long battle.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis giving a speech
Credit: ABC News

Related: How Disney Found Itself In the Middle of a “Culture War?”

Competition

It’s also worth keeping in mind that Disney is not America’s only theme park and entertainment giant and that Universal is quickly gaining ground against the mouse. While Disney has no official plans for any all-new attractions currently in development for its American theme parks, Universal Studios Hollywood just opened a brand-new immersive land inspired by the Super Mario franchise, SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, which is drawing massive crowds to the Southern California theme park and causing tickets to completely sell out.

Banner for Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollwyood showing an aerial shot of the immersive expansion
Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

Related: Power Up For Visit to SUPER NINTENDO WORLD at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Orlando Resort is also gearing up for the opening of an all-new theme park, joining Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay in 2025. Universal’s Epic Universe will be home to highly immersive lands, fun and thrilling attractions, shops, and much more, and will likely draw massive crowds to the Orlando Resort once it opens.

Universal's Epic Universe
Credit: Universal Orlando

Related: Universal Confirms In Strong Statement That It’s Better Than Disney

And as if that wasn’t enough, Universal recently shocked fans by announcing the development of an all-new theme park in Frisco, Texas, and a year-round Halloween experience in Las Vegas, Nevada. While there is still not a lot of information on these upcoming projects, and their construction is already sparking debate, there is no question that Universal is giving Disney a run for its money.

While competition is tough and the road is long, The Walt Disney Company will surely continue working to regain its reputation through multiple strategies and branches, as the multi-million-dollar corporation owns Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Studios, in addition to Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Studios, and, of course, Disney Parks worldwide, giving it plenty of tools to achieve this goal. But ultimately, fans will play a crucial role in this development, so regaining the love of audiences must remain a top priority for the company throughout the process.

Has Disney lost its magic? Will the company be able to regain its reputation? Let Inside the Magic know what you think in the comments below!

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