Since Bob Iger returned to his former position as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, social media has been taken by storm by Disney fans sharing their thoughts, excitement, memes on the removal of now-former CEO Bob Chapek, and of course, ideas for what changes they would like to see implemented at the company.
Fans have predictably come up with quite a laundry list of requests for the new CEO, and while we all have some personal wishes we’d love to see happen (saving Dinoland for this writer…) there are some recurring themes that the majority of Disney fans are in agreement on.
Increase Cast Member wages
There have been calls to increase Cast Member wages for much of the history of the Walt Disney Company, and while they have been increased, those increases have not been enough to keep some Cast Members above the poverty line, with far too many still struggling with housing and providing food for their families.
Moreover, most Disney fans agree that Cast Members’ work has only become more challenging during the pandemic as Guest behavior has seemingly worsened and staffing shortages continue. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, has even produced a documentary on the hardships that Disney Cast Members continue to face, further prompting fans to call for pay increases for the people responsible for creating the Disney magic.
Remove theme park reservation system
The theme park reservation system has been in place since the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the reservation system was a logical step in managing crowds given health and safety restrictions put in place for both Guests and Cast Members, and in some cases state and local government policies that required capacity limits.
Nearly three years later, the reservation system is still a required part of planning a Disney vacation. And, despite past comments from former CEO Bob Chapek, who viewed the system as a success in creating a better Guest experience, many fans are frustrated when reservations are sold out and the Parks seem crowded regardless. The reservation system has even become the center of a lawsuit by Annual Passholders who believe their passes which promised no block-out dates are not living up to what they paid for when reservations are unavailable.
Remove restrictions on Park Hopping
Along with the reservation system, Disney Parks currently restrict Guests’ availability to Park Hop. Prior to the pandemic, Guests with Park Hopper tickets could enter one Disney Park earlier in the morning, then immediately leave and go to another Park, easily hitting all four Parks in one day if they so chose.
Guests can still complete the four-parks / one day challenge at Walt Disney World, but with Park Hopping totally restricted until 2:00 p.m., the feat has become much more difficult. Moreover, some Guests are finding that the Park Hopper tickets do not offer as great of a value as a result, and others have expressed frustration over simple strategies from the “before times” like enjoying an early breakfast in one Park then hopping to another, all well before 2:00.
Major overhaul of Disney Genie+
Disney Genie+ was introduced last year effectively as the paid replacement to FastPass+. While Disney fans obviously do not want to find themselves with new added costs on their trips to the Parks, most are in agreement that some kind of paid version of FastPass was inevitable. The cost (perhaps with the exception of its recent increases due to the new dynamic pricing) actually seems to be less of an issue than the system itself.
The current version of Genie+ is only available for same-day purchase, with pricing varying by date, and some rides only available as Individual Lightning Lane purchases (ie: not included in Genie+) making the process quite confusing for casual Guests. And, with Lightning Lane lines often running outside of attraction queues, many fans have questioned how well the system actually works, calling for either a total revamp or a better way of limiting how many Guests can use the service.
Re-evaluation of Disney+ strategy
Moving outside of the theme parks, a number of Disney fans have called for a restructuring of the current strategy when it comes to streaming. Bob Chapek led a company-wide focus on Disney+ and the brand’s other streaming services as a primary revenue stream, and while it was at times quite successful, some fear that it’s led to a bit of a creative downfall.
With disappointment over some film releases going right to Disney+ instead of to theaters, and sequels, TV series, and more that fans had higher expectations for, there is a lot of buzz in the Disney fan community over ways the company’s streaming services could be re-strategized.
What would go on your to-do list for the Walt Disney Company? Returning CEO Bob Iger certainly has his hands full during his two-year term, but we are excited to see where it goes!