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What Do Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s 2022 Goals Mean For Disney Parks?

Bob Chapek has certainly had a divided entry into his new role as CEO of The Walt Disney Company. 

With a petition going viral last year aiming to persuade the Walt Disney Company to fire Chapek, the Disney head has become quite a continued topic of discussion among Disney Guests.

Now, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has outlined his plans for 2022 in a memo sent to Disney employees, with a focus on creativity and technology.

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Many Disney fans have been debating recently Chapek’s budget cuts and layoffs, as well as his attention moving to Disney+ and away from the quality of the Disney Parks, Chapek revealed in an interview that he dislikes this “cost-cutter” reputation he has gained as Disney CEO.

Chapek took over from longtime CEO Bob Iger in February 2020, starting just before the COVID-19 pandemic. His decisions and issues so far in the Disney Company have included laying off 28,000 Cast Members, a focus on Disney’s streaming services, the closures of Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, and Disney Parks across the globe, as well as a high-profile lawsuit.

In late July, Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson sued The Walt Disney Company, claiming that the studio giant had breached its contract with her when it released Marvel’s Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ at the same time. Disney fought back and called the lawsuit “callous”. According to Johansson and Disney, the sides have amicably settled their lawsuit.

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In the Cast Member memo, Bob Chapek explained the three specific “pillars” that make up his goals for 2022: “storytelling excellence,” “innovation” and “relentless focus on our audience.” According to Variety, the Disney boss wrote:

“Thanks to you, we are weathering the pandemic and emerging stronger than ever. Over the last two years, we continued to tell the world’s best stories, reorganized, and accelerated our transformation to better serve audiences and guests. We looked inward during a time of social disruption, saw how much was left to do, and made significant change. And of course, we underwent a leadership change — and I am enormously grateful for the tremendous foundation Bob Iger left us.”

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Chapek also touched on the company’s upcoming 100th anniversary, with Walt and Roy Disney famously starting their world-changing business back on October 16, 1923. He added:

“It’s ironic that this disruption is happening as we prepare to celebrate our company’s 100th anniversary. For nearly a century, we have defined and redefined entertainment, created countless lifelong memories, and delighted fans and families around the world. It’s a legacy that is simply unrivalled [sic] — and a welcome responsibility for us to build upon. And so I believe our mission for this year is clear: set the stage for our second century, and ensure Disney’s next 100 years are as successful as our first. To do that, we will focus on three pillars.”

But what do these three pillars mean for Disney Parks across the globe?

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The first pillar, “story-telling” seems to suggest that Chapek, famous for being “data-driven”, is realizing he needs to focus on the creative side of the company. According to the memo, the Disney CEO is “establishing a new standing monthly meeting with our senior creative leaders”, which would hopefully bring projects back into the theme parks that are less numbers-driven.

From Imagineers creating brand new stories and worlds for attractions in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, to new stories in movie theatres, we at Disney Tips can’t wait to see what comes from these creative meetings.

As previously announced, Splash Mountain will eventually be reimagining into a The Princess and the Frog (2009) attraction; however, Disney has yet to announce a date for when that retheme will take place. We wonder if the storytelling pillar will finally see this retheming come to life?

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The second pillar, “innovation” seems more aligned with Chapek’s recent focus on technology.

Chapek has recently mentioned how the metaverse will play into the Parks and has also launched the divisive Disney Genie+ service in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. On October 19, Disney Genie officially launched on the My Disney Experience app in Disney World, along with Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane access, the new paid iteration of what was previously the FastPass service.

With the launch of the new digital service Disney Genie, however, Disney Guests are debating whether this new tool, along with other technology and apps, stops Guests from being fully engaged in the Park experience.

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The third pillar, “audience” seems interesting based on the current Guest reaction to Chapek’s role as CEO. At a recent RunDisney marathon event, a tweet by @Imagine_Ears showed a sign saying “You Run Disney Better Than Chapek” being held up as runners passed down Main Street, U.S.A.

Chapek writes in his memo about the Walt Disney Company having “many constituents and stakeholders”, which seems to highlight how driven he is by numbers. Their “North Star”, he writes though – the consumer – wants to experience entertainment differently in the ever-changing technological world.

Does this mean we will be seeing new tech launches, apps, and interactivity in the Parks soon? With many Guests complaining about the new digital services at the theme parks, it would be interesting to see if they are actually listening to their Guests.

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Before he was CEO, Bob Chapek was Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, leading Disney’s travel and leisure businesses such as Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Vacation Club, as well as Disney’s Global Consumer Products Operations.

While Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, Chapek oversaw a massive expansion for Disney Parks worldwide, including the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort, the expansion projects of Disneyland Paris and Disneyland Hong Kong, and the announcement of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort.

We’ll have to wait and see what Chapek’s three goals bring to Disney in 2022, and what changes we see in both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer and chatterbox, who loves to enjoy the magic of Disney's theme parks with a Mickey Premium Bar in hand! A British native, she has travelled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her Air Force pilot husband.