Bob Iger is back in control as The Walt Disney Company CEO, and fans have BIG expectations for his return.
We’ve been hearing from many Disney fans about all kinds of changes they hope will happen now that Iger is back, from the return of Magical Express to higher pay for Cast Members. Let’s take a look at the FIRST thing Bob Iger should do now that he’s the Disney CEO once again.
We asked DFB readers “What’s the FIRST thing you’d like to see changed at Disney now that Bob Iger is the company’s CEO?” There were several common responses, and we’ll list the most popular ones here. But first, a disclaimer.
Iger hasn’t announced yet that any of these changes will be made, and it’s possible that not much will change at all in the Disney theme parks. The main reason for Chapek’s departure appears to be heavy streaming losses for Disney+, and Iger is expected to turn things around for the company in that department. So despite the fact that many fans’ chief concerns are for the parks, the main issue for investors and the Disney Board of Directors is profitability for the streaming platforms.
In fact, Disney lately has needed revenue from the parks now more than ever as the company’s success there has been bankrolling its streaming service losses. Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division now makes up 62% of the operating income for the company, which means the current system is working pretty well. Although the ideas that our readers came up with for Iger’s return may be popular among Disney fans, they aren’t necessarily guaranteed or even likely to happen.
Still, it’s good to know what the fans are thinking right now, and Iger may have plans to make at least small changes in the theme parks. Let’s dive into the ideas!
What Fans Hope Will Change
On Facebook, DFB readers told us what they hope will change now that Bob Iger is back in charge at Disney. Here’s what you said!
Cast Member Pay Raises
Many fans said they hope the first thing that changes is that Disney World Cast Members get a pay raise. DFB reader Anna said, “Honestly, the first thing he needs to do is give all the Cast Members a raise. They have suffered the most, including when the pandemic first hit.”
Sarah agreed, saying, “Take care of the Cast Members! They work way too hard for all […] that they go through.”
Iger previously shared that, when he left the position of Disney CEO in the first place, one of his regrets was not giving Cast Members pay raises earlier. In an interview with CNN in March 2022, Iger said he regretted not increasing the starting hourly wage from $10 to $15 early on. He said, “We were being pushed to go to 15. There was some hesitation in that regard because of the cost associated with it. We should have done that right away.”
More Perks for Disney World Hotel Guests
Several readers also asked for more perks for guests who are staying at Disney World hotels. Some of those perks — like Extra Magic Hours and Magical Express — were removed or changed in the last couple of years.
Extra Magic Hours was replaced by Early Theme Park Entry, which allows guests at all Disney hotels to enter the parks 30 minutes early every day, and Extended Evening Hours, which allows guests at Deluxe Disney hotels to stay a couple of hours past park closing time on certain days.
Zac said, “Staying on property used to have so many benefits, made paying more worth it.” And Jackie agreed that perks used to be better: She requested “perks you used to get as a resort guest like FastPass and magic hour [Extra Magic Hours], not half-hour and not just for deluxe resorts, but a full hour early or late at alternating parks. And free parking for resort guests like it was.”
Pam also requested the return of full housekeeping at the Disney hotels: “Daily housekeeping. Beds made and towel animals to return to, after 15 hours in the parks.”
Return of the Disney Dining Plan
Chelsey had a straightforward ask of Bob Iger: “Bring back the meal plan already!!!! We’ve waited long enough.”
The Disney Dining Plan (which allows Disney World guests to purchase a package for meals and snacks along with the rest of their vacation) was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic closures, and it still hasn’t returned. However, this is one change that we think is likely to happen in the near future.
Disney confirmed last year that it would be coming back, and since most of the restaurants in the parks are open now, it looks like that return could happen soon. The dining plan is a profitable program for Disney, so they likely would not be cutting revenue with its return.
A LOT of fans are hoping for changes or even a full removal of Genie+. Genie+ replaced FastPass+ as the way that visitors can skip the lines at some Disney World rides, but unlike FastPass+, the new system is not free. Many have also complained that it’s too difficult to use, as you have to make reservations for Lightning Lanes throughout the day instead of making those plans ahead of time.
Christine said, “Give back the fast passes! I wouldn’t mind paying for FP, but I hate the new system — confusing cost. Just make one set price.” Stacy wanted the entire system gone: “Abolish Genie Plus so I can enjoy the day with my kids without my face in the phone.”
Maureen had the idea to change the system so that you could purchase Genie+ and book rides before your vacation begins. She said, “It would allow better rest, and dining wouldn’t overlap.” Zac voiced the opinions of many fans when he said, “The Genie+ system needs to be overhauled.”
Hilary noted that the real problem in her opinion was the cost: “I’m not opposed to a type of Genie+ system. But the cost should be a little lower.”
Despite the requests of many Disney fans, it seems unlikely that Genie+ will go away. For one thing, this system was likely in development during Bob Iger’s first run as CEO, so he was probably involved in creating it in the first place. And Genie+ has been hugely profitable for Disney thus far, with about half of Disney World guests purchasing it.
Christine McCarthy (Disney’s CFO) stated during the 4th quarter earnings call that “the continued popularity of premium offerings, including Genie+ and Lightning Lane” was the reason for increased per capita spending in the parks and contributed significantly to park revenue. As much as you may not want to hear it, Genie+ is likely here to stay.
Park Hopper Changes
Another change that many fans called for was the return of normal Park Hopping in Disney World. Currently, Park Hopping is only allowed after 2PM.
Christine said, “Let me park hop when I wanna!” And Kenneth requested the return of the “old park hopping system, come and go as you please.”
Return of Magical Express
Another perk that is now gone is the Magical Express shuttle between the Disney World hotels and the Orlando International Airport. This used to be a free service, but now visitors must choose between a variety of paid services to get to their Disney hotel.
In response to the question of what fans wanted Iger to change first, Jessica said, “MAGICAL EXPRESS. For the love of all things good……if nothing else!!! Please!! Yes, I’m begging.”
No More Park Pass Reservations
Another COVID-era change that has stuck around is the Park Pass Reservation system, which requires guests to make park-specific reservations before they visit a Disney World theme park. You can’t just get into Magic Kingdom with a general Disney World park ticket — you must also have a reservation for Magic Kingdom before you can go inside.
Disney fan Dulcie said, “Get rid of park reservations so we can have the freedom of waking up and choosing a park. Not everyone wants a second-by-second planned vacation.”
Many fans agreed with Dulcie, but it’s still not very likely that the park passes will go away. Although the system started as a way for Disney to control capacity after the COVID-19 closures, the company is still realizing all kinds of savings and control from requiring the reservations. Disney can gather a lot of data from the reservations and use that information to plan more accurately for adequate staffing, food, and merchandise in each park every day.
Because the park passes allow the Disney parks to operate more efficiently (and profitably), it’s likely that the reservations are here to stay.
Annual Pass Sales Resume
Several fans asked for Disney World to resume Annual Pass sales. Zac said, “Bring back WDW annual passes,” and Kristen said, “Would love to see annual passes being sold again.”
Most of the Disney World Annual Pass sales have been on pause for over a year now, but their return could happen in the near future. Disney has recently made a few adjustments to the system (including some price increases), which seem to indicate that the passes will be back if not this year then sometime in 2023.
Bring Back the “Magic”
Finally, a common theme in the responses to our question about what Bob Iger should change first was to bring back the “Disney magic.” Many fans feel that the magic has been missing for a while now, with more focus on price increases and cost-cutting.
Steven said that this might look like “an emphasis on returning to creativity and storytelling.” Some experts have said that Iger is known as the “content guy,” whereas Chapek was more the “finance guy,” so this emphasis on creativity may be a shift we’ll see soon.
Again, keep in mind that many of these changes at the Disney parks are unlikely to happen, as demand for the parks is still very high and people generally seem willing to pay the higher prices, even with the unpopular elements like Genie+ and Park Pass Reservations. From a business point of view, the parks are currently very profitable and running well. But you never know what might change in the future!
If you want to learn more about Bob Iger’s return to Disney, check out these links:
- Disney Stock Values Jump Following News About Bob Iger’s Return as CEO
- Why Disney Replaced Bob Chapek with Bob Iger
- Celebrities React to Disney’s Decision to Bring Bob Iger Back as CEO
- Disney CEO Bob Iger’s Salary Revealed
- 7 Big Challenges Bob Iger Will Face as Disney’s New CEO
- Bob Iger Is Back as Disney’s CEO — What Happens Now?
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What other changes are you hoping to see at Disney now that Iger is back? Let us know in the comments.
The post The FIRST Thing Disney Fans Want To See from Bob Iger first appeared on the disney food blog.