Tourism experts are optimistic about Disney's new CEO

Tourism experts are optimistic about Disney's new CEO

Bob Chapek, Disney's new CEO.


When the Walt Disney Co. announced on February 25 that CEO Bob Iger would be succeeded by Chairman of Disney's Parks, Experience and Products, Bob Chapek, has left many wondering - and some worrying - what this would mean for the company's theme parks. It is a key issue for the region, as the Disney theme parks in Orlando are the biggest cog in the tourism industry of US$75 billion of Central Florida; and Walt Disney World is the largest employer in the region and hosts the majority of the 75 million annual visitors to the city. In addition, Disney generates work for local construction companies in connection with new attractions and hotels. For example, Walt Disney World is undergoing a great expansion at Epcot, which includes new attractions, shows, and areas, as well as building the new Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel, among other projects. Tuna Amobi, of CFRA Research, said to Orlando Business Journal, who believes the transition will be smooth.

Tuna Amobi, director and industry analyst at CRFA Research.

Tuna Amobi

There will be no major strategic divergence. Chapek was prepared by Iger and he reaffirmed that there will be no change of strategy. Some of the investment in theme parks has already been conceived and started by Iger. Also, in some ways, I think he believes in the parks, and the company knows that it needs to upgrade the parks to keep them competitive.

To be sure, the title of CEO will require Chapek to oversee many things, from shareholder concerns to the growth of the Disney + streaming service. But there should be no worries about the theme parks, several experts said.

Amobi said that theme parks typically go into cycles of major investments, and Disney is in that cycle now, which should support the notion that the company will continue to invest money in new attractions and amenities.

And Chapek will not step into that position alone, but instead with someone helping him make the transition, said Duncan Dickson, a tourism industry expert and retired attractions professor who now serves as a principal at A&D Partners, a human resources consulting firm. That's because Iger plans to serve out the remainder of his contract that ends in 2021 as president of the company, as well as taking a creative role in the efforts he wants to complete before he leaves. "[This transition] gives Chapek the opportunity to bounce ideas off Iger. It's a good opportunity to keep the main guy there and train the new guy," Dickson said.

In addition, Dickson said that Chapek's more recent role in the theme park business shows how much he values that division, which should allay any concerns. "He was responsible for the parks, so he probably has a better understanding of the park than Iger does."

However, Chapek's appointment has sparked some animosity among Disney fans. For example, some have posted on social media that they fear Chapek will cut back on capital investments in the theme parks - with some calling his appointment "a nightmare" for the parks.

But speculating about the future of the theme parks may be a bit premature, as there will now be a huge hole left by Chapek with his departure from overseeing the parks. And that position will have an equal impact on the parks, said Robert Niles, editor of Theme Park Insider, an attractions website.

Robert Niles

It is really hard to know what it means for the Parks to see Chapek take over the top post at Disney, until we know who will replace him and oversee the parks. Despite all the on line complaints about Chapek, we should not forget that the number of visitors to the Disney theme parks increased under your eyes, just like the recipe.

Niles also said that Chapek supervised o development e a debut from two attractions popular on portfolio from Disney: "Pirates Caribbean: Battle from treasure sunken", on Disneyland from Shanghai e "Star WarsAscent from resistance", on Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. "Chapek delivered numbers e triumphs creative at your divisionwhich was a strong argument to your promotion".


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