Disney CEO Bob Iger Nixes Price Increases at Theme Parks

In one of his biggest moves since he took the job back in November, the CEO becomes a fan favorite by reducing the hikes of his predecessor

Upon his return as CEO in November, Disney boss Bob Iger was hailed as the same conquering hero from his first go-around running the House of Mouse. But he had to perform quickly to keep both corporate and Disney fans happy during his pre-determined two-year tenure, which is meant to be focused on finding and developing a permanent successor.

Iger hit a hole-in-one this week by jettisoning the price hikes that his predecessor, Bob Chapek, had instituted in 2021, reports The New York Times. Chapek was chairman of parks and resorts before he became CEO, in what was ultimately a brief stint. And he made one pretty unpopular move in this period when he raised prices at Disney’s U.S. theme parks.

On Tuesday, in a letter to employees from Disney’s theme parks Chairman Josh Amaro, it was announced that price adjustments across Disney’s services and ticketing options would be implemented. The move was hailed both inside and outside the company.

It seems there’s a reason that one male executive greeted Iger’s return, according to The New York Times, by saying, “Daddy’s back!”

Some services that were free under Iger’s tenure are going back to being free. For example, Disney will no longer charge for parking for guests and Disney-operated hotels (down from a hefty $15-25 per vehicle). Also, guests will no more be charged to download photos of themselves taken during rides or by Disney photographers during meet-and-greets with characters like Mickey, Minnie, and Elsa. But they’ll still have to pay for those precious prints.

And Californians can prepare to be able to go to Disneyland on the cheap more often: The company will “significantly” increase the number of days that tickets are available to Disneyland for their lowest price of $104 at the Anaheim theme park. Right now, Disneyland tickets can reach $179 on the most popular days to attend that park.

Another bonus for Disneyland is the relaxing of rules on the “park-hopper” tickets. In the Anaheim location, one can purchase a more expensive ticket that allows them to “hop” between Disneyland and the California Adventure theme park on the same day. While previously, park hopping couldn’t begin until 1 p.m., guests will now be allowed a head start at 11 a.m., according to the Times.

D’Amaro acknowledged that the company had veered off course and said that Disney was offering guests a correction. “We want to make sure our fans are feeling the love,” he told the Times. “We’re listening to them, and we’re trying to adjust.”

These changes will be phased in over the next few months.

Meanwhile, Iger is busy on other fronts: He recently decided to bring Disney’s workers back to the office by March 1 for four full days a week. He cited creativity through in-person connectivity as the heart of the decision, reported Variety. “In a creative business like ours, nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe and create with peers that come from being physically together,” Iger wrote in a memo Monday.

And the new-but-former CEO, who came out of retirement to give it another go, is going to have to prove that this dog can still fight. On Wednesday, it was made public that Iger and Disney are gearing up for a battle on the company board with a well-known activist investor—billionaire Norman Peltz’s Trian Fund Management, according to the Times. Trian has already bought $800 million of Disney stock and is “known for waging campaigns against the management of companies,” according to the Financial Times. They’ve made their case known—that Disney can perform better financially—dubbing the plan “Restore the Magic.”

Outside the park and offices, there’s been no word on what Chapek is doing—but he’s likely nursing his wounds while enjoying his golden parachute, calculated at $23 million or more by Bloomberg. There’s also a chance he’s hitting a few rounds of golf, as there’s a course near his home, which Dirt.com describes as his $12.5 million guarded-and-gated Westlake Village estate.

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