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How will the return of Bob Iger affect Disney theme parks?

Now that a massive shift in leadership has taken place at Disney, will it really do anything to right the ship at the Disney theme parks? Last week, Disney announced the departure of CEO Bob Chapek and the return of Bob Iger to Disney.

Disney is already facing a slew of challenges that Iger may or may not be able to tackle. Disney is losing money faster than you can say Mickey Mouse. And then there’s that nasty tiff between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. However, some experts believe Bob Iger’s return to Disney may be the shot in the arm the company needs.

Some aren’t exactly wild about Chapek’s leadership when it came to dealing with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that DeSantis pushed. The bill may affect Disney employees who happen to be part of the LGBT community. When Disney had the temerity to speak out, DeSantis responded by spearheading a law that would take away Disney World’s control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

In a letter released by Disney’s Board Chairman Susan Arnold, she expressed gratitude for the outgoing CEO:

“We are extremely grateful for Bob Chapek’s service throughout his tenure with Disney. However, we believe that Bob Iger is uniquely qualified to lead us through this very difficult and transformative period that lies ahead.”

Iger previously served as CEO from 2005 to 2020. He voluntarily stepped down and handed the responsibilities over to Chapek. Iger says he is excited about working for Disney again. His main leadership responsibilities will be outlined over the next month.

Disney’s Financial Woes

Chapek’s tenure at Disney hasn’t exactly been a home run. Disney has faced some incredible financial setbacks over the last year. Even though revenue has increased with the parks and subscribers, things are not as they seem.

During the 2022 Q4, Disney’s stock dropped substantially. There was another $1.5 billion loss with the direct-to-consumer section. Even before that, 2021 had over $600 million in losses.

Financially, Disney is having a very tough go of it. The losses, along with a possible recession and deadline pressures, put the company in a precarious situation.

Disney is doing its best to improve the situation by offering increased pricing on its television subscription service. But not even this will have an immediate impact. Much of what Disney is doing may not be seen until 2023.

Can Iger Help?

The point is, can Iger’s return help address Disney’s problems? The jury is still out. However, it will be a huge challenge. Most people believe he is much more of a people person than his predecessor.

Unlike Chapek, Iger understands diplomacy and knows how to handle issues. When it comes to handling situations, Iger knows the fine art of finesse. Chapek, on the other hand, was viewed as heavy-handed. The return of Bob Iger to Disney will undoubtedly aid in better communication and bridge gaps created by Chapek’s abrasiveness.

“He doesn’t have a clue when it comes to dealing with politics and opinions,” said a former Disney employee.

Iger has had a lot of experience dealing with Florida politicians. But at the same time, could Iger’s return backfire and cause even more problems?

Iger is not one to shy away from controversy. In a recent interview, he outlined the reasons why he has no issue speaking out on certain issues. He also encourages other CEOs to do the same.

Iger says he has always weighed his options on making comments and how they would affect shareholders, employees, and customers.

Reedy Creek Updates

According to reports, Iger has already stepped up to the plate to make changes. He sent out an email to Disney employees, letting them know about what they could expect in the future.

He started off by praising Disney employees and letting them know how he intended to make changes:

“The company will see a number of organizational changes in the future.” “I respect creativity, because it is at the core of who and what we are at Disney.”

Iger also announced that Chapek’s second-in-command, Kareem Daniel, would be leaving Disney as well. Iger says in the coming months, his vision of Disney’s new and improved structure will be up and running.

What plans should Iger be implementing?

1. Continue to make more Disney acquisitions.

“This will definitely bolster Disney’s brand,”  according to Yahoo Finance Editor, Jason Bazinet. This is actually something Iger did during his first run as CEO. He was known for his acquisitions of Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar.

Those acquisitions alone earned Disney nearly $34 billion in global sales. He was also responsible for domestic box office gains. There is no doubt that Disney was in good financial shape during Iger’s tenure.

USC Professor Jason Squire says “Iger will be a major force in what happens next with Disney.”

“It cannot be denied that Disney has changed dramatically under his leadership,” Box Office Analyst Doug Stone said.”Bob Iger’s return to Disney is definitely a good thing.”

The numbers don’t lie. Iger is laser-focused on getting it done, and many believe he will.

2. Boosting Disney’s Profits

Disney has taken a severe financial hit over the last few years. Although Bob Chapek reported that good news about an increase in international subscribers, he didn’t account for the other areas where Disney was losing a boatload of money.

According to Bazinet, Disney should go forward with long-term expectations in mind. “This will go a long way in stabilizing the business and making it financially solvent.”

Bazinet also said that Disney should also lower their streaming expectations for 2024. “They need to make it more palatable so people will want to sign up.” Investors are not going to sit around and wait for profits.

3. Build new relationships and repair old ones

Disney came under a lot of fire during Chapek’s time as CEO. He received heavy criticism from customers and experts for his lack of moves and constant delays. This greatly affected the company’s overall customer confidence and damaged its reputation.

Iger is quick on his feet and has shown his ability to lead. While the jury is still out on whether or not he will get Disney back to its glory years, he may be the company’s last hope.

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