Chapek out at Disney: Three times Bob blundered


Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek and a picture of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL. AP/Ted Shaffrey/Kin Cheung

Chapek out at Disney: Three times Bob blundered

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The Walt Disney Company announced Sunday night former CEO Bob Iger would be returning at the helm of the company while announcing Bob Chapek was out as CEO.

The shake-up comes after Chapek’s turbulent 33-month tenure, which featured several high-profile blunders. Here are three key blunders that likely led to Chapek’s exit.


Florida Parental Rights in Education Act comments:

Chapek’s most high-profile gaffe was his handling of internal backlash to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which outlawed teaching classrooms kindergarten through third grade about sexual orientation and gender identity while forbidding schools from withholding information from parents about students’ health and well-being.

The bill was dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents, who falsely claimed it would outlaw words such as “gay” from classrooms.

Initially, Chapek stayed publicly silent on the issue, expressing support to people within the company who were opposed to the bill but was against a public stance.

“As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change,” Chapek said in an internal memo.

After more pressure from activists within the company, Chapek reversed himself and publicly called out the Florida government over the bill. As part of the reversal, Chapek held a company town hall, where the company discussed its “not-so-secret gay agenda” in videos leaked to journalist Christopher Rufo.

Chapek’s reversal frustrated consumers but also angered Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state politicians, who signed a bill to revoke the Disney company’s special tax district, where the Walt Disney World resort is located, after Disney threatened to do everything in its power to overturn the education law.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District had allowed Disney to bypass red tape for construction and other functions for the most magical place on earth. The deal was originally brokered with the Florida government in the 1960s with the help of Walt Disney before his untimely death.

Chapek’s Florida debacle hurt Disney’s public image and government relations for its signature resort, as DeSantis was overwhelmingly reelected earlier this month.

Disney-Scarlett Johansson feud:

Another blunder under Chapek’s reign was the fallout with superstar actress Scarlett Johansson.

Johansson sued Disney in July 2021 after the film Black Widow, in which she played the titular character, was released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ for an additional fee. The actress had argued her contract stipulated the film be released exclusively in theaters before being made available on streaming services and other platforms.

Disney, in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter in July 2021, said the lawsuit had “no merit” and was “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The public monthslong battle led to several talent agencies and actors calling out Disney over its role in the dispute.

Johansson and Disney settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount in September 2021. In reflecting on the lawsuit in an interview with USA Today, Johansson said she was “fortunate” to “stand up for what was right.”

“I feel very fortunate that I was able to stand up for what was right,” Johansson said to the outlet. “In the end, I’m really thankful that no one else will ever have to deal with that, and so that feels good to me. … It feels like some progress.”

Quality issues at theme parks:

Chapek’s tenure has also been dominated by quality issues at the company’s various theme parks.

The parks, specifically at the U.S. resorts, have had rides see more downtime recently when compared with years past, per a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The report showed that monthly unplanned ride stoppages rose by 58% at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, from 2018 to 2022 and by 42% during that same time period at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The increase in ride downtime comes as prices at the Disney Parks continue to rise, with a ticket price increase announced for the Florida resort last week.


Chapek, who was thrust into the role of chief executive officer in February 2020, is the second shortest-tenured CEO of the Walt Disney Company behind Walt Disney’s son-in-law, Ron Miller, who served as CEO from 1983 until 1984.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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