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

in Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Movies, Pixar, Walt Disney World

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger in front of Cinderella Castle

Credit: Inside the Magic

Wednesday was a big day for The Walt Disney Company as newly-returned Disney CEO Bob Iger held his first quarterly earnings call in front of shareholders since stepping in to replace former CEO, Bob Chapek. In what is typically a finance-focused meeting, Iger presented Disney investors with his planned transformation of The Walt Disney Company from top to bottom.

Iger shared Disney earnings numbers and Disney Park profits but also focused on the creative and entertainment sectors of the company. He revealed planned expansions to the Disney Parks, announced upcoming Walt Disney Pictures, and outlined tough business decisions The Walt Disney Company will execute in the coming months.

Ups and Downs

Child wearing Mickey Mouse hat with parents in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Disneyland Paris saw record-breaking profits in the last quarter of 2022. Despite worldwide inflation, Disney Parks made $2.1 billion in profits, up 35% from 2021.

“After a solid first quarter, we are embarking on a significant transformation, one that will maximize the potential of our world-class creative teams and our unparalleled brands and franchises,” Iger wrote in a memo to shareholders.

Disney Guests wearing merchandise in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

Much of this success can be attributed to rising souvenir, food, and beverage prices and upcharges like Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. International Disney Parks offer a similar service called Disney Premier Access.

But in such an unprecedented financial climate, there are highs and lows. Streaming service Disney+ saw its first-ever drop in subscribers since launching in 2019. This shocking news came as fans gear up for the third season premiere of the Star Wars spinoff, The Mandalorian.

Restructuring, Budget Cuts, and Layoffs

A man and a woman stand in lime green costumes holding cameras in front of Spaceship Earth.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Iger announced a complete restructuring of The Walt Disney Company into “three core business segments: Disney entertainment, ESPN and Disney Parks experiences and products.” The CEO also promised Disney shareholders to save millions of dollars in 2023 by cutting marketing, labor, and technology expenses.

Unfortunately, labor cuts mean people will lose their jobs. Mr. Iger had previously revealed that he would move forward with former CEO Bob Chapek’s promised layoffs and confirmed on Wednesday that The Walt Disney Company would cut 7,000 jobs. D’Amaro spoke to Disney Cast Members on Thursday morning and confirmed that Disney Parks employees would be affected.

Avatar at Disneyland Resort

Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) in 'Avatar: The Way of Water' (2022). Credit: Disney
Credit: Disney

James Cameron brought The Walt Disney Company more than $2 billion with Avatar: The Way of Water (2022). Following the success of Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, Iger announced that an Avatar (2009) experience is coming to Disneyland Resort. Could we soon ride Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey at Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure?

Details are sparse, but fans of the series can expect more information soon. Inside the Magic will report updates about the upcoming Avatar experience as soon as they’re available!

Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Sequels

Anna (Kristen Bell) and Olaf (Josh Gad) laying on a picnic blanket in 'Frozen II'
Credit: Disney

After a challenging year at the box office, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios are bringing back some old favorites, likely guaranteed to be instant hits based on name recognition alone. Iger announced that fans could expect sequels to Toy Story (1995), Frozen (2013), and Zootopia (2016).

Walt Disney Pictures’ most recent animated films, Lightyear (2022) and Strange World (2022), are overwhelmingly considered box office failures. Controversy over LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the films garnered some attention but not enough for success. Both movies launched on Disney+ earlier than initially planned.

Scared Jesse, Woody, and Buzz
Credit: Pixar

Interestingly, recent hits Encanto (2021) and Turning Red (2022) were snubbed by The Walt Disney Company. Despite resounding success on Disney+, Iger didn’t mention plans for a sequel to either film.

It’s unknown if the Frozen and Toy Story sequels will connect to previous films in their franchises. Likewise, many fans wonder if Zootopia will tie into the 2022 Disney+ series, Zootopia+Controversial voice actor Tim Allen did confirm involvement in the untitled Toy Story 5

Guest Satisfaction

Guests at Downtown Disney District
Credit: Disney

More than anything, Iger promised to please Disney Guests and reward shareholders. He promised to put more Intellectual Property (IP) in the Disney Parks, a controversial topic among Disney fans who frequently ask for more original storytelling.

The CEO also briefly touched on Disney Park Pass Reservations. Though Park Hopping restrictions were loosened in January, the CEO said they plan to continue limiting capacity at Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Avid Disney Parks fans know that “limited capacity” = Disney Park Pass Reservations, which began when the Theme Parks reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disney Guests taking a selfie in front of R2-D2 Fab 50 Golden Statue
Credit: Disney

Still, Disney Park fans felt vindicated for a few moments in January when Chairman of Disney Parks & Resorts Josh D’Amaro announced that some freebies would return. Resort hotel parking is once again free for overnight Guests at Walt Disney World Resort, while attraction PhotoPass downloads are complimentary for Disneyland Resort Guests as part of the Disney100 Celebration. Iger said little freebies like these are part of The Walt Disney Company’s strategy to please Guests.

What did you think about Bob Iger’s announcements during The Walt Disney Company’s quarterly earnings call on Wednesday? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments. 

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