The largest Disney fan event of the year kicked off this morning with the Disney Legends Ceremony at the 2022 D23 Expo. And as the event began with the CEO of the Walt Disney Company Bob Chapek approaching the stage, the top executive was met with a round of boos mixed with some light applause from fans watching in the audience.
The controversial CEO’s first appearance at D23 causing this type of reaction from fans present in the audience is not surprising. With multiple petitions circulating hoping to remove the CEO from his position, and disappointment expressed on social media by fans after learning that the company’s board of directors had agreed to extend Chapek’s contract, this reaction was unfortunately expected, at least to some extent.
As the crowd quieted down following Chapek’s first appearance at the D23 Expo, a former CEO was briefly mentioned, and even without approaching the stage in person, he garnered a more positive reaction from the crowd.
One of this year’s Disney Legend award recipients, Imagineer Rob’t Coltrin shared a touching speech as he expressed his gratitude for receiving the award. During this speech, the Imagineer known for his work on such memorable attractions as Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Muppet*Vision 3D, and Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, expressed thanks to a several executives and colleagues from the company, including former CEO Bob Iger and current CEO Bob Chapek.
Bob Iger was mentioned first, a short line from Coltrin that resulted in an energetic round of applause from the audience. Despite Coltrin’s later note that he thanks “all of the Bobs,” his mention of Chapek was met with little applause, a noticeable act as it followed Chapek’s initial “boos” at the start of the awards ceremony.
Coltrin also shared an expression of thanks for the work of his fellow Imagineers saying, “Although I’m the one standing up here, in the true spirit of Imagineering, this one’s for all of us.”
When former CEO Bob Iger first announced that he would be stepping down from his position at the beginning of 2020, many fans began to express an immediate uneasiness over Bob Chapek taking on the role. This sentiment continued across the Disney fan community as Iger’s retirement neared at the end of 2021, and as many saw decisions made by Chapek as fumbling through the steps of leading the company.
While in the past, Bob Iger had supported Chapek and expressed his confidence in the transition of power, the former CEO recently expressed some regret over the decision to appoint Chapek CEO.
Of course, now that he is officially retired, Bob Iger now has no role within the Walt Disney Company. (He consulted and continued to work outside of the CEO position when Chapek took on the role and through to his retirement at the end of last year.)
Unless fans see major changes (which to be fair, could be announced during D23), it seems fans will continue to hold Iger’s legacy (of : Galaxy’s Edge, Disney+, EPCOT’s major reimagining, and so much more in terms of , , and streaming) to a higher standard than the current vision of the company.
Still, it is worth noting that fans continue to express fondness for the former CEO. (Later in the Disney Legends ceremony, actress Kristen Bell even joked that she had dressed up as Bob Iger for Halloween in the past! She quickly followed up that she would plan to dress as Bob Chapek, though, in what appeared to be another instance of mentioning the current CEO as an after thought.)
We will continue to monitor updates out of this year’s D23 Expo, and will be back with more news as we have it here on DisneyTips.