(NewsNation) — News of The Walt Disney Company bringing back its former CEO, Bob Iger, over the weekend may look surprising on paper, given his successor, Bob Chapek, had only recently signed a new contract.
If one were to take a look at the stock price of the company or talk to customers of the theme parks at the time of the announcement, however, the announcement would make a lot more sense. Disney — known by some as the happiest place on earth — hasn’t been so happy for the last couple of years, based on many online reviews.
Tickets to Magic Kingdom have risen to $189 — a 12% hike. And those who’ve had to pay for a more expensive experience have found themselves dealing with long lines and broken rides, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ride stoppages rose 58% at Disneyland in California from 2018 to 2022 and were up 42% at Walt Disney World in Florida, according to the Journal.
The “Star Wars: Rise of Resistance” ride, for example, has been down an average of 118 minutes every single day. The average time in line went from 39 minutes in 2019 to 49 minutes in 2022.
Even Disney-obsessed bloggers have noticed that the parks haven’t felt quite the same.
“From smaller portions in food to less festive looking dinnerware at the restaurants or less maintenance happening at the parks; lightbulbs out in places — things that never would have flown in the olden days,” Disney vlogger, Joshua Nelson, told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Monday.
One Disney fan joked on Twitter that Disney might start charging a $7 “clean toilet fee”… or a $3 “drinking fountain fee.”
The disgruntled fan tagged now-back-again Disney CEO Robert Iger in the post. Like the fan, many hope that Iger will be able to bring back some of that Disney magic.
Longtime Disney experts, however, say the trend of rising prices, declining service and priorities shifting away from middle class Americans will be hard to reverse.
“Five years from now, what is the perception going to be of parks? The people I am hearing from, who are coming back now, are saying, ‘I’ve always loved the parks. but this is the last straw.’ The phrase ‘nickel and diming’ comes up a lot in the emails that I read,” Len Testa, the co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World,” told “Rush Hour” on Monday.
It is not just Disney’s parks that have sparked complaints. Disney+ has also been losing money and has raised prices in response.
Disney lovers will have to wait and see if having the former CEO back in charge has an impact.