Bob Chapek legacy

EDITORIAL: Bob Chapek Is Trying to Change His Legacy From Bean Counter to Innovator, But Is It Too Late?

Disney CEO Bob Chapek wants to change his legacy for the better. He has had a tough start to his tenure; we’ll give him that. He took over for Bob Iger at the start of a global pandemic that continues to affect operations nearly two years later. But the series of difficult decisions hiding behind the guise of an unprecedented situation have grown rather than waned, and Disney Parks guests have made it clear their tolerance is growing thin. Chapek was already on thin ice with this particular segment of Disney customers after his tenure as the head of the theme parks division.

Bob Chapek legacy

Chapek infamously hates his reputation as a “bean counter,” so much so that PR arranged for him to say as much in an interview. It’s no secret that we think this nickname is not a misnomer. Price increases are normal, but lately, they have been paired with penny-pinching policies, reductions in levels of service, and sometimes the outright removal of free benefits that guests have appreciated for years.

Walt Disney World guests are now paying more to get less, as many entertainment offerings and basic services have yet to return. Complimentary FastPass has been replaced with Genie+ and Lightning Lane, which, at $15 per day per person for the base level, can add up quickly for an average family. Food and beverage pricing resort-wide has been increased by as much as 15%.

Disney has made it clear that they are aware of this public perception. Instead of reversing these decisions or making guest-friendly changes to resolve the complaints, Chapek is instead focused on ignoring the past mistakes and creating a new legacy. His eyes are on the second of his “three pillars:” innovation.

Chapek is leading the charge into untapped opportunities, but are these opportunities really Disney “innovation” at its best? And are they cohesive with the Disney brand? Under his reign, Disney will enter into sports betting, cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and back into the real estate industry. With this new direction, Bob Chapek seems to be hoping that successful ventures into these new areas will bring record profits for the company, thereby creating a new legacy.

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But what then becomes of The Walt Disney Company that we knew and loved? The Disney Parks around the world are the most well-known division of the company, as well as the most physical manifestation of the Disney brand that we can experience. Will successes in other ventures offset the goodwill lost by overcharging and underdelivering on guest experiences at the parks? Or is Chapek tarnishing the Disney name for the sake of the bottom line?

As our readers, you are already making your opinions heard. But in the end, will Chapek actually care as long as the stock keeps rising? Disney is experiencing record profits, but shareholders need to step up and sound off. Investors holding Disney stock for the long haul need to let Chapek know that short term profits, at the expense of the Disney brand’s long-term viability, are shortsighted. Walt knew as much and was always focused on the future. “Quality will out,” as Walt famously said, means that the investment in a quality product is worth more in the long run than skimping on quality to make a quick buck. Alas, this seems to be a lesson lost on Chapek.

What do you think about Bob Chapek’s vision for the future of The Walt Disney Company? Is the company going in the right direction? Will successes in these new endeavors change your opinion of him as CEO? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. He is no Walt Disney not even close anything he try’s to do to clean up his act will go down in flames!

  2. The “Walt Disney Company” that Walt and Roy Disney founded feels like a thing of the past to these guys. Iger went on a shopping spree buying up IP, and now Chapek is “innovating” some risky sounding things like sports betting, cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and real estate industries? aside from being more “non Disney” ventures… wasn’t Celebration a Real Estate venture that didn’t work and got sold off?

    If these “side businesses” were a way to raise money to reinvest in the Disney Brand, Films and Parks, I’d be somewhat for it… but instead I’m guessing the price increases and budget cuts for “The Disney Brand Products” (Parks/Films) seems to be the way they’re raising money to “gamble with” on the crazy things like sports betting, cryptocurrency, metaverse, and real estate industries …and it’s not really “innovating” if you’re just “copying” other existing businesses …”innovating” implies “doing something new” …right?

  3. Okay now this is to far. I mean he is doing his best and I mean people have different ways of doing things. Also ai should eltnyoy know that the prices aren’t just happening to Disney but all other businesses, especially with imports from China driven to a slow pace due to the pandemic.

  4. If you don’t want to be remembered as a bean counter, it helps to stop counting beans. They just raised ticket prices to WDW parks, so I don’t see how he’s progressing.

    Even if he does innovate, he can still also be a bean counter. One does not rule out the other.

    Iger was a bean counter too, as was Eisner before him. Most CEO’s are. The difference comes from what else they brought the company long term. Simply raising prices does not provide real growth.

    Right out of the gate, Iger got Disney Pixar. Eisner rebooted the animation division, launched plans for Hollywood Studios, Paris, Disney Channel expansion, and more.

    Two years in, what has Chapek given Disney? Besides possibly sports betting, what has he clearly envisioned? He’s way behind his predecessors and that’s taking into account the pandemic.

    The truth is that he won’t bring much, because he doesn’t have much to give. No acquisitions, no expansion beyond what is already there. Just raising prices of what is already there and possibly sports betting. Woo-hoo.

  5. If yoy want to let him know about these things I would suggest an interview to hear his side of the story. That way we’ll know for sure the reasons of his actions.

  6. Way too late. Bean counter and destroying Walt’s legacy. He is hated by everyone for a reason. He needs replaced.

  7. Personally I think Chapek is doing great. A CEOs job is the maximize the value for shareholders and build a better future for the company. I think it’s easy to get upset about increasing costs especially if you feel you are getting less at the same time but like any business there is a balancing act between supply and demand… if Disney can increases prices and still have the demand then it makes sense to do it. Now add in the fact that they are coming out of a pandemic in which the entire company had to fight to survive, it is now more then ever important to get the balance sheet right, reduce debt taken, have a large enough surplus to not only invest in the future but also start to bring dividends back to keep shareholders happy. I am a shareholder and a fan of the company, I had an amazing time at the parks recently and I will be on the galactic starcruiser day 1 (march 1st) to see first hand how that project turns out… so again I think Chapek deserves the benefit of the doubt for the situation he is in and his responsibilities to shareholders and I would not right off the magic just yet…

    1. I agree with what you are saying. People don’t understand that he has been placed in a difficult position in a difficult time and is just doing his best to keep the company alive.

      Edit: As a bonus some of the stuff people blame on Chapek were already being developed beforehand so it is a bit unfair.

  8. Personally, I think it’s not too late for Chapek. Even if some corners are under more fire than others, there will always be things from Disney that we love.

  9. Disney Plus and film and television is one sector that I think will continue to remain strong and viable.

    1. I agree with what you are saying. People don’t understand that he has been placed in a difficult position in a difficult time and is just doing his best to keep the company alive.

  10. Being a Disney lover and someone who used to constantly defend the product and the cost to visit the pros I am beginning to lose the will to fight as they slowly take away the “magic” and are nickle and dining everything. I hope it reverts but it will never and the Disney we knew just 2 yrs ago will never be back. It’s sad, very very sad. I know longer can be the person defending the cost as it’s getting to the point where I myself can’t even justify it

  11. He has been a disaster all along. Cannot fathom why he was promoted in the first place. I signed the petition just as a lot of people did. Get rid of Chapek and save Splash Mountain!!!

  12. We used to go multiple times a year prior to the pandemic and even had season tickets for a few years. We went to WDW this past January and the experience was horrible. My teenage daughters even said they didn’t want to come back because of the bad experience.

  13. Bob Chapek is visionary. And his vision is centered around squeezing as much compensation as possible from the WDC board of directors.

    And he is doing that by squeezing as much from guests as he possibly can, driving short term profit as high as possible no matter the cost to long term goodwill.

    He is the worst thing to happen to Disney in my long lifetime.

  14. This could be brushed off by most as little more than damage control.

    Only time will tell whether he DOES prove himself to be truly heartless…

  15. I have to be honest here. I am mad as all get out that me disney stock keeps falling. I’m mad that now we have to pay for the disney fast pass. I’m mad that if you are staying at one of the onsite resorts, you are now charged extra to have your car in the parking lot. Daily!
    You are being nickeled and dimed and it certainly does not encourage me to take my vacations down there. I really used to love it. Not so much anymore

  16. Many of you are too young to remember much of Michael Eisner’s “reign” at Disney but there are portions of it that remind me of Bob Chapek. While Eisner certainly did some good things – especially early on, his tenure after Frank Wells died was fraught with “Chapekesk” moments, notably the on-the-cheap movies of the late 1990s and early 2000s and the WDW bricks (the last of which were removed not too long ago). Going to the parks during this time one often heard comments that the park experience had been cheapened and things were getting too expensive. In the end, Roy Disney stepped in and staged a revolt that led to Eisner leaving. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening this time, so the best hope now is that someone like Josh D’Amaro can influence Chapek to improve the experience.

    1. Eisner really did try to “innovate” the Disney company, not all those ideas like Disney Institute and Celebration worked out in the end, and the loss of Frank Wells was defintley a problem… but this proposal of Chapek to get into sports betting, meta, ect… is “changing” what company is about. Disney is known around the world for “family Entertainment” and of the 5 of so media conglomerates that own and control most of the media in this country, the other 4 being Sony, Comcast, Viacom, and AT&T, Disney is the only company whose chief product is “entertainment”. To me this plan sounds like what lead the Gibson Guitar company into bankruptcy. Gibson is/was know around the world form making some the best electric guitars anywhere, but about a decade ago one of their executives decided “Gibson is going to be more than just Guitars we’re going to be a Lifestyle Brand now” and they began focusing on clothing, t-shirts, and various types of merchandise with the Gibson logo on it… but in order to launch these other products, they began cutting corners on the quality of their chief products “the guitars”, so people stopped buying the new guitars because they weren’t as good as the used/vintage ones, and this is what lead them into bankruptcy. Recently Gibson finally decided “we knock off all the “Lifestyle stuff” and get back to making the world’s best guitars again”

      Early in his tenure as CEO, Eisner was asked in an interview with Diana Sawyer “can you afford to make these animated movies you want to make?” his answer was “no, but we have to, because that’s what this company’s legacy is” and that’s what lead to films like The Little Mermaid and what people call “The Disney Renaissance” …Chapek’s plan is more like Gibson guitars, a more like “People know and love Disney, they’ll by our product no matter what we do… now let’s get into sports betting”

    2. The difference with Eisner was that he actually had a focus on the Guest experience. Many new experiences and offerings (that Guests ACTUALLY wanted) came during his tenure in the 90s. I’d take back Eisner over Cheap-ek any day!

    3. Well maybe you can write a letter to Josh about it. As for the revolution….. a shareholder made a reddit post about voting him out.

  17. hey bob, bean counters only worry about legacy and profits, not customer service and customer appreciation. so yeah, your real legacy is already set. hopefully, the shareholders will vote you off the board and replace you with someone that realizes all this came from a little mouse! that they will understand the mantra of “what would walt do?” you would think someone that went to business school in the midwest and had two working parents to take him to disney as a child would not be so cutthroat about pricing families out of the disney experience and magic!

  18. Chapek Bob is changing Disney and it not good? You are right not to sacrifice quality over profits and that will only last for a short time. The last president did that and the company grew and made money without charging the guest for everything. The price for the star war resort is crazy and will not last when it comes to making money

  19. All that Bob Chapek and the whole board care about is the dollar sign. As long as profits keep rising they will keep raising prices on everything and giving less. The only way it will change is if people stop going to the parks and stop buying Disney merchandise.

  20. WDWNT often brings things like these up as a joke more than a serious thing, but this company complains that COVID has them on the financial ropes and then turns around and brags about the huge earnings from the nickel and diming. They talk about how much they respect and appreciate all cast members, but still haven’t brought back a lot of the live entertainment ones (I’m sure Disney finds it cheaper to run without them) and doesn’t do what’s truly necessary to fill the gaps in housekeeping and food service by just paying better. People aren’t fooled by sign-on bonuses. They talk about being technologically advanced, pushing for new and more, and trying to deliver immersion, but they’ve spent 5 years building one roller coaster and still have busted, old, outdated junk like the current Figment ride.

    I tell my students in my classroom all the time- your words don’t matter unless the actions match. Don’t tell me you’re going to innovate and care about the consumer when every action betrays the opposite.

  21. As a longtime Disney stockholder, I’ve already used my proxy card to vote for all of the board members except for Bob Chapek. Hopefully others do the same to send the same message that was sent previously to Michael Eisner. Companies rarely remain profitable when they turn off their most loyal customers. Those are the customers that will make the most noise and turn off others.

  22. Long time Disney Park visitor from the UK here. Brought my kids to Disneyworld for the first time this year… the magic is gone. Too many guests, class division created with lightning Lane (already a hugely expensive holiday, without the $240 extra for a family to use lightning Lane) queues are longer than ever and as a standby queuer(chapeks lower class) you get to watch 3 or 4 LL parties go per SB party. Parking is extortionate, and you can’t even buy a discounted bundle! Some attractions looking very old and dated, even the new ones aren’t cleaned like they ought to be anymore. Sorry to say my kids may not have found this holiday as magical as I did when my parents first brought me and my brother. Lots of worl needed to get back there Chapek.

  23. I think if Walt was alive he would not approve of the changes that have been made so far. He was always for the people and not for the dollar. I have been a Disney fan since I was a child and now I am 70 years old and still love it. Whenever we go to Disney we feel like children again. That being said the cost for going there is getting crazy. I am a stock holder and we see how much the the big wigs are getting a year. Do they really need that much money. They should give it back to the people that really do the job and that is the employees. Well I know not much can be done because like always the big money always wins and we suffer for it.

  24. Chapel was a bean counter, he is a bean counter and he always will be a bean counter. Somewhere Walt Disney is spinning

  25. I have been going to Disneyworld since 1976 with kids, grandkids. Chapek is putting the last nail in the coffin. I am done with it. I am paying for 1 lastfamily trip so my youngest grankids 6 and 4 can experience it. My kids can’t afford it. Then I will sell my DVC membership.

    1. My dad has been going since 1978 and is always talking about doing the same thing, selling off the once the grand kids get to go because we (his children) can’t afford it… he bought the DVC in 94 thinking we’d inherit it someday

  26. As a classic Disney lover I am very saddened that my own children will not be able to enjoy the same experience. I understand change, but I feel the original intent has been lost since Eisner was CEO. Since then it’s been all about how to line pockets instead creating an immersive family friendly experience that Disney is known for. With each change I keep hoping it will be someone who will bring back the original intent, but so far I keep being disappointed. With it’s continued trend Disney as we used to know it will be no more and/or become only what the rich can afford.

  27. WDWNT – Bravo! You hit the nail on the head. “Short term profits, at the expense of the Disney brand’s long-term viability, are shortsigh1ted.” Couldn’t have said it better.

    Raising prices, creating more revenue per guest, and little to no investment in parks & experiences is hardly a legacy. Sounds like a recipe for long-term disaster. But, in the short-term, and long as Chapek, the Board, and shareholders get their ROI on a stock price, nothing intrinsically will ever change. Pathetic.

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