Did Disney Destroy ABC Over Tickets to Disneyland?

Shonda Rhimes Disneyland tickets
Credit: Disney

For more than ten years, it seemed that you couldn’t turn on ABC without seeing a super-successful show created by Shonda Rhimes. The producer, author, and screenwriter is the brilliant mind behind Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and more. ABC was at the top of its game when Rhimes was involved, but that ended when she left the network in 2017.

How to Get Away With Murder

Credit: ABC

Related: Another Media Company Eyes Disney Assets, But Would the Relationship Work?

Now, ABC appears to be on the brink of either total destruction or massive change. Disney CEO Bob Iger has admitted that linear programming might no longer be the “core” of Disney content. Rumors continue to swirl that he is actively looking to sell the network, although he has not confirmed any conversations or potential sales.

In 2017, Rhimes left the ABC and Disney families and went to one of Disney’s biggest competitors — Netflix. Now, it wasn’t just Rhimes’ departure that had people talking. It was the reason behind her departure. According to Rhimes herself, her departure was precipitated by a Disneyland ticket.

Shonda Rhimes

Credit: Shonda Rhimes Instagram

Yes, The Happiest Place on Earth ended up being a breaking point for the celebrated producer.

Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter that she had been fighting with ABC and Disney executives over everything from creative control to budgets, signing a new multi-year deal, and more. But it was tickets to Disneyland that was the catalyst for her walking out the door and over to Netflix.

As part of her ABC relationship, Rhimes had been given an all-inclusive pass to Disneyland — and without a partner, she’d negotiated a second for her nanny. But on this day, she needed one for her sister, too, as she’d be taking Rhimes’ teenage daughter while the nanny chaperoned her younger two. If the passes had been interchangeable, Rhimes would have been happy to give up hers — when would she have time to go to Disneyland anyway?

After some unwanted back-and-forth — “We never do this,” she was told more than once — Rhimes was issued an additional pass. But when her daughters arrived in Anaheim, only one of the passes worked. Rhimes lobbed a call to a high-ranking executive at the company. Surely, he would get this sorted.

Instead, the exec allegedly replied, “Don’t you have enough?”

Rhimes was beside herself. She thanked him for his time, then hung up and called her lawyer: Figure out a way to get her over to Netflix, or she’d find new representatives.

Mickey Mouse Disneyland

Credit: Disney

Fans were appalled by the fact that Disney would fight over a ticket to Disneyland when Rhimes made the company more than $2 billion. It showed people that Disney didn’t care about Rhimes, just what she would be able to give them. And it appeared that Netflix was ready to pounce, quickly agreeing to pay Rhimes more than she ever made at Disney.

So, Rhimes took her extreme talents over to Netflix, where she has created one of the most popular series the streamer has ever had — Bridgerton. Then, she created a successful Bridgerton spinoff, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.


Credit: Netflix

Related: Disney Employees “Freaking Out” as Iger Considers Dismantling Company 

Rhimes and Netflix are thriving, while Bob Iger is struggling to figure out ABC. Grey’s Anatomy is still on the air, but many fans are wondering if the time has come to close the book on Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. ABC News is still one of the most successful news networks around, but that doesn’t appear to be enough to make Iger go to the mat for the network.

Grey's Anatomy

Credit: ABC

Recently, media mogul Byron Allen offered Disney $10 billion to buy ABC. Disney acquired ABC in 1995 for a whopping $19 billion, But while it seems like $10 billion would be considered a loss to Disney, ABC is only valued at around $5.25 billion. So, it appears that Allen is willing to pay Disney more for ABC than it is worth.

Iger has not commented on Allen’s offer.

Did Disney shoot itself in the foot by losing Shonda Rhimes over something so trivial? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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