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Three Things Disney Fans Owe to Bob Chapek

The short yet poignant Chapek Era of The Walt Disney Company is finally coming to an end, and many Disney fans and investors are in a period of rejoicing. And while many of us are happy to see Disney give its short-lived CEO the door, there are a few things that we need to thank Chapek for doing while he was in charge, whether we want to admit it or not.

Here are the top three as I see them:

Bob Chapek Led Disney Through the Pandemic

Disney Pandemic Restrictions

In February 2020, essentially on the eve of the global Disney Park closure, Bob Iger announced that he was going to step down as CEO and appoint Bob Chapek his replacement. The former Disney Parks Chairman would not enjoy the times of growth and plenty as his predecessor. Instead, he would lead the company through an unprecedented time of struggle that required major tightening of finances in order to survive without downsizing or sell-offs. One could argue that The Walt Disney Company would not have survived intact without the tough money-focused decisions Chapek had to make, especially in the first few months when every Disney Theme Park, Resort, cruise ship, and studio around the world was shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bob Chapek Showed Us The Potential of Disney+

Disney+

Perhaps the best thing about Bob Chapek’s reign as CEO was showing us the true potential of Disney+ and the entire direct-to-consumer streaming division. While it is credited as originally being Bob Iger’s brainchild, it was Chapek who saw the chance to utilize Disney+ as not just a digital library fans can access the treasures of the fabled Disney Vault but also as the successor of linear cable television options like Disney Channel and Disney XD. No longer were those shows confined to 30-minute time slots with commercials, either, and Disney proved it could follow competitors like HBO in creating smash-hit cinematic-level series like The Mandalorian and Loki. Its management–or should I say mismanagement–also proved to be one of the few ways we fans were actually able to save money in maintaining our Disney addiction. Suddenly we had one-stop-shopping for everything Disney, and we started paying a monthly subscription instead of other expenses like movie theater tickets (which always come with snacks), DVD purchases, and individual On-Demand rentals. Chapek himself even said that if it was thanks to Disney+ that Disney’s Encanto, which had a terrible box office run, rose to the popularity it did. It can be argued that Chapek’s priority of Disney+ was necessary during the pandemic. But the pandemic ended, and instead of going back to the Theme Parks and studios, the CEO kept the course, and it led to his own demise.

Bob Chapek Made Us Realize The We Can’t Take Disney Parks For Granted

main street usa magic kingdom disney characters 50 anniversary

Mickey Mouse and other classic Disney characters donned special 50th anniversary attire for the Most Magical Celebration on Earth at Disney World. Photo Credit: Disney

Read More: Fans Put Forth Disney Was Better Pre-Covid

If the past three years have proven anything to Disney Fanatics around the world–especially Annual Passholders and Magic Key Pass Holders–, it is that we cannot take our time in the Parks for granted. 2019 was an incredible year as excitement for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, and all of the massive Theme Park projects were announced and getting underway. We had the FastPass+ system, parking was still complimentary depending on your visit, and PhotoPass was included on several Annual Pass tiers. Park Hopping did not have time restraints.

Then the Parks closed for several months. When they reopened, Chapek and Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro were able to blame covid for the enduring restrictions. But as we moved on, we never regained our previous access to Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Prices went up thanks to the artificial shortage of Theme Park access, and the FastPass+ and Max Pass systems were taken away from Disney World and Disneyland, respectively. On top of all of this, the quality experience at the Parks drastically deteriorated. 

But as the Parks experience was arguably destroyed, and Annual Passholders were sent out to pasture with a higher price tag, it made us realize how good we had it before Chapek and the pandemic and how special a day in the Parks really was. One can only hope that as Bob Iger gets to work restructuring and basically saving The Walt Disney Company, the Theme Parks will be restored to their former magic as well.

Don’t get me wrong, there was not a lot of good to come out of Disney’s “Chapek Era.” But even on the blackest night, there are stars still shining. It is for these three things, at least, that I want to thank Bob Chapek as his reign atop one of the most beloved companies in the world comes to an end. Now, let’s look to the future and the Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow shining at the end of this day.

We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney news and stories as more developments come to light.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.

About T.K. Bosacki

TK is a writer and editor based in Tampa, FL with a passion for all things Disney, and adventure.