LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. – Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Wednesday that he expects the Walt Disney Company to continue to evolve by creating opportunities, focus on customized storytelling, build transformative moments and take bold risks to move forward in the marketplace.
“I think the challenge with becoming a company that’s going to turn growth into the next century is not being so beholden to legacy that you’re afraid to evolve,” Chapek said during Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference. “Knowing that the world is changing so fast, that we’ve got to change with it. I always say, ‘I’d like to be on the front end of the wave, not on the back end of the wave.’”
During his one-on-one sit-down with Wall Street Journal editor in chief Matt Murray, Chapek touched on a variety of topics, including Disney’s streaming service, a Metaverse for fans and the theme park reservation system.
When the Walt Disney Company began opening its domestic parks from COVID lockdowns, both at Disneyland and Disney World, the company established a ticket reservation system, allowing hotel guests, annual passholders and regular day guests the chance to book reservations at each of the theme parks. It also gives the Disney company a way to manage attendance each day at the parks.
“We want to guarantee a great guest experience no matter when people come,” Chapek explained. “We developed a reservation system so people would know ahead of time whether they were going to get in, and then we practiced yield management, which again, every other company in the world can do.”
Just last week, Disney passholders filed a lawsuit claiming the reservation system violates contracts and limits unlimited access to the theme parks. Disney said the company has been “upfront” with passholders.
Chapek also took time to speak about Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
“I think the lesson is the lesson that we probably always knew, which is Disney -- it’s all about the cast,” Chapek said. “What I would say was that we were reminded the passion of our cast reaction, and how important their sentiments are on these issues in terms of making them feel that they were part of The Walt Disney Company could relate to the products that the Walt Disney Company puts out.”
The law prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms and also bars teaching those topics in other classrooms in ways that are “not age-appropriate.”
Chapek opposed the bill and apologized to cast members shortly before it headed to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk to be signed. Following the signing, the governor said he would get rid of the Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek District.
Bob Chapek assumed the role of CEO in 2020, becoming the seventh CEO in Disney’s nearly 100-year history.
Previously, Chapek served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since the segment’s creation in 2018, and prior to that he was chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since 2015. Back in June, Disney board leaders extended Bob Chapek’s contract for three more years. He will now hold the role as CEO through July 2025.
Use the form below to sign up for the ClickOrlando.com In the Loop: Theme Park Scoops newsletter, sent every Friday morning.