Bob Chapek Says Working at Disney Was “Hell” in New Bombshell Report

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Credit: Inside the Magic

A new statement from former Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek is making the rounds.

Former CEO Bob
Credit: Disney

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A new report from CNBC highlights both Bob Iger’s retirement from The Walt Disney Company as well as Bob Chapek’s brief tenure as CEO, revealing some very interesting key details about the relationship between Disney and Chapek.

One of the biggest bombshells in this new report regarding the two Bobs, a “bobshell” if you will, claims that Chapek confided to a friend that his time spent serving as CEO of The Walt Disney Company was “about three years of hell.” Chapek was also reportedly worried that Iger secretly wanted his job back. Iger announced his retirement in late 2019, with Chapek stepping in in early 2020. Chapek was immediately greeted by multiple problems and issues, quickly becoming a punching bag for top-level executives as well as a majority of Disney fans and guests alike. To gather this information, CNBC spoke to around 25 people who claimed to have worked closely with both Bob Iger and Bob Chapek between 2020 and 2022.

Chapek issued the following statement to CNBC through a spokesperson:

Bob is proud of the work he did in the course of his 30-year career at Disney, particularly during his nearly three-year run as CEO, steering the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and setting the course for business transformation as he and his team took the disruptive yet necessary steps for business revitalization and long-term growth.

Bob Iger (L) and Bob Chapek (R) at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Credit: Disney

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Bob Chapek will go down as one of the most controversial figures to ever work at The Walt Disney Company, though this reputation was not entirely his own fault. Chapek took over Disney at a very key time for the company. Bob Iger had spent several decades with Disney and had proven himself to be competent, compassionate, and consumer-oriented. There’s always controversy when leadership changes, and Disney is no different. However, Chapek could not have stepped in at a worse time, being handed the reigns of CEO right before a global pandemic would forever change the world as we knew it.

The outbreak of COVID-19 crippled not just Disney but the global economy, with millions of people still dealing with the effects to this very day. Disney had a hard time, with theaters taking a big hit in viewership and ticket sales. The Disney theme parks were forced to close, meaning attendance and profits dropped on this side of the business as well.

Under the leadership of Chapek, the Disney theme park specifically changed a lot. Chapek introduced Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane to theme park guests, services that are incredibly costly. The sheer price of a Disney World or Disneyland vacation went up considerably under Chapek. Chapek was also blamed for The Walt Disney Company’s somewhat botched response to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ highly controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Ron DeSantis
Credit: WikiMedia

As a result of this initial feud between Gov. DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney World was effectively stripped of its self-governing status in Florida. For decades, Walt Disney World operated under its own guidance from the Reedy Creek Improvement District. With this special setup, Disney essentially built its own community, employing its very own facilities, such as garbage disposal services and first responders. This allowed Disney to act quickly and get projects moving on a larger scale. However, as a result of Bob Chapek’s stance on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District was dismantled and taken over by the state of Florida.

A new board was created, with board members being appointed by Gov. DeSantis himself. This is one of the biggest blows to Disney in the history of the company and will undoubtedly leave a stain on Chapek’s legacy. However, Disney did not back down without a fight, suing Florida and DeSantis.

A family in their room inside of Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney – Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser

Guests saw the permanent closure of multiple attractions in the Disney parks under Chapek, with the most notable being Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser in Walt Disney World. Chapek served as Disney’s CEO when this experience was up and running, but it was clear that it was not all smooth sailing.

This immersive hotel experience transported guests onto the fictional Halcyon ship as they embarked on a two-night, cruise-like experience. This, of course, came at an incredibly high cost. This attraction-hotel hybrid did not pan out, with Bob Iger revealing that Disney’s Galactic Starcruier would be closing permanently in 2023, less than a year after it opened. Disney struggled to maintain solid bookings shortly after the hotel opened, revealing that it may not be as popular as it needed to be. Of course, the high cost of a voyage also hurt the experience, severely limiting who could enjoy it. The hotel was also unique in that it connected directly to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Guests could board a “transport shuttle” and be taken seamlessly to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests were brought directly into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Credit: Brittany DiCologero

While it’s easy to blame Bob Chapek for a lot of the failures of Disney in recent years, Bob Iger has not reintegrated back into The Walt Disney Company as smoothly as many would have hoped. Iger has already found himself in hot water after comments he made regarding the Hollywood strikes went viral. Iger has effectively revealed his stance on these strikes, calling those striking for better pay and representation “unrealistic.” Bob Iger has also been criticized for how he has been handling Disney’s media portfolio, which has all undergone extensive changes in recent months. Disney+, Disney’s premier streaming service, has been losing subscribers on a consistent basis and has yet to make Disney any considerable profits. Disney and ESPN announced that the sports network would soon allow sports betting, something many fans were not happy to see.

Bob Iger took over the mantle of CEO back in 2005 from Michael Eisner, who served as CEO from 1984 to 2005. The CEO generated quite a reputation for himself, putting the company in danger as well as being the leader during some of the best times as well. Under Esiener, dozens of iconic theme park rides were created, such as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. Speaking of Splash Mountain, The Walt Disney Company revealed that this classic log glume attraction would be closing back in 2020, with Chapek getting a lot of heat for this shocking decision. Some fans were so disappointed to see such a classic ride go that a petition was started to “Save Splash Mountain.” This, of course, resulted in nothing but revealed that a large portion of Disney guests and fans felt rather passionately about a rather problematic attraction.

One really can’t blame Chapek for having negative feelings about Disney, especially with the way his time ended at the company. Just weeks after successfully snagging a contract extension as CEO, Disney voted to remove him from the company. Chapek would, of course, be replaced by Bob Iger, who plans to serve for the next several years. Bob Iger’s position as CEO of The Walt Disney Company

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