“What would happen if we failed to make great animation?” he remembers thinking at the time.
So Iger kicked off his 15 years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by focusing on repairing both Disney movies and theme parks under the three strategies of international expansion, fresh content and new technology. These were his biggest moves.
According to Iger, the purchase of Pixar turned Disney Animation’s fortunes around. “ and we’ll all live happily ever after,” Iger told Jobs at the time, as revealed in his 2019 memoir, The Ride of A Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company.
With his Marvel buyout, Iger secured Disney’s superhero payday. Last year, with a box office total of just under $2.8 billion, in addition to the previous success of its Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Ant-Man and Avengers installments.
The former ABC president, whoTuesday, also oversaw the successful at the end of last year. Disney Plus signed up in less than three months, and gave rise to hugely popular content like Star Wars series — which spawned the — as well as paving the way for future .
Disney theme parks
When taking the reins of Disney, Iger also inherited several theme park flops: California Adventure at Disneyland in Anaheim, the second park at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. All three missed the mark, seeing limited success after being designed under a strict budget mandated by previous CEO Michael Eisner.
“You can’t fool people,” Kim Irvine, Disneyland’s art director, said in the Imagineering series. “They can tell when things are being short changed or you’re not paying attention to the details and putting quality into something. Walt used to say if you do a good job, they’ll pay for it, and I think they started seeing that we weren’t doing that good of a job anymore.”
Under Iger, big spending came back to the Imagineering department. First up was looking into how to fix California Adventure, which he said “didn’t live up to the expectation of a Disney theme park.” Calling it “fundamentally broken … and right in our own backyard,” Iger kicked off a five-year renovation of the theme park, including the popular Cars Land and the addition of the Toy Story Midway Mania attraction.
for 2019, then expanded the oft-criticized Hong Kong Disneyland by 25%, adding an exclusive attraction that saw attendance rise. In 2012, the theme park was finally profitable.
Walt Disney Studios Paris was then improved by adding the Ratatouille attraction, which successfully picked up attendance to the second, smaller Paris theme park.
As part of his plan for international expansion, Iger then treated the launch of Shanghai Disneyland as “the biggest priority” for Disney in 2016. He’d spent 18 years negotiating with the Chinese government to get the theme park off the ground — starting the groundwork long before he was CEO.
Other theme park wins under Iger included securing the theme park rights to hit movie Avatar, which sawin Orlando, Florida.
Darker days at Disney
But it wasn’t all sunshine at Disney under Iger. The tragic death of an 8-year-old boy in 2015 on the property of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World saw the company slammed for its lack of safety.
Iger called it his darkest day as CEO, describing in the opening of his 2019 memoir crying so hard that his contact lens fell out.
“Not every day is easy. Not every day is fun,” he said during an interview with PBS in 2019. He spoke with the family, a phone call he said was the most difficult conversation of his life. “It was an unbelievably gut-wrenching experience.”
Disney’s next CEO was named Tuesday, with previous chair of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Bob Chapek to be Iger’s successor.