MickeyBlog Disney News – Post Thanksgiving Week Edition
The Thanksgiving holiday week is generally a slow news period since most people are on vacation. That’s not true for Disney, though! They’re busy plotting the future of theme parks while satisfying park guests during one of the busiest times on the annual calendar. Here are a few quick notes about what’s happening in the wide world of Disney.
A New Contender Arises
Recent speculation about the future of The Walt Disney Company has centered on the succession plan for the title of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Current leader Bob Iger has already announced his intention to retire on multiple occasions. He’s since extended his contract three times but firmly stated that the most recent one would be the last.
Iger’s currently under contract until July of 2019. Rumors persist that he’s toying with the notion of running for President of the United States in 2020. That would require him to leave even earlier, probably the third quarter of 2018. Is Iger willing to leave Disney prior to the opening of Star Wars Land – Galaxy’s Edge? I’m dubious, but that remains to be seen.
What we do know for now is that a previous succession plan was in place. Thomas O. Staggs, the then-Chief Operating Officer (COO) at The Walt Disney Company, earned the nod as the next CEO of Disney. After a trial period managing some of Iger’s duties, however, insiders pressured Staggs to quit the company, feeling that he wasn’t right for the role of CEO. Disney’s been in wait-and-see mode ever since Staggs resigned.
This past week, a new contender emerged, and he’s the most obvious choice. The employee in question is Bob Chapek. Why is he the right fit? Well, I noted a couple of weeks ago that Disney has four major industries. Those divisions are Media, Parks & Resorts, Studio Entertainment, and Disney Consumer Products & Interactive Media (DCP). Three of those four divisions either lost money year-over-year or were stagnant from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2017. The other gained $1.4 billion while claiming record earnings.
Guess which one of those four divisions is headed by Bob Chapek. Yes, park fans will be thrilled to learn that Chapek has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Bob Iger in 2019 (or sooner). He’s the perfect choice since he’s also helmed DCP and been President of Studio Entertainment. That’s three of the four major Disney outlets that Chapek has guided. Frankly, he’s a dream choice to lead the company, and I expect Disney to announce it soon, presumably on a date when they want to generate some positive buzz.
“Never Underestimate the Power of Music”
Speaking of Disney’s movie division, the company got some wonderful news over Thanksgiving week. Their latest release, Coco, became the latest Pixar film to finish in first place at the box office. It earned $50.8 million over the three-day weekend and $72.9 million over its first five days of release, a bit down from Moana’s $82 million over the same period last year.
By Pixar standards, that’s just an okay number rather than the sign of huge blockbuster. It’s still a solid performance, though. Recent standalone i.e. original Pixar properties haven’t done as well as sequels to beloved Pixar films such as Finding Dory and Toy Story 3. Coco still outperformed Cars 3, the latest offering from Pixar’s most enduring franchise. At the movie theaters, audiences are a bit tired of Cars (and Planes), but Disney continues to make those movies because Cars toys have sold more than $10 billion worth of merchandise.
Coco doesn’t have that sort of built-in audience. Instead, the film’s growth depends on word-of-mouth. The great news for Disney is that Coco is one of the best received Pixar releases in recent memory, with an A+ Cinemascore and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96 percent. It should perform well at the box office through the rest of the year and into early 2018.
Plus, Coco is almost certain to earn a nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. Disney’s claimed this award five years running with Brave, Frozen, Big Hero Six, Inside Out, and Zootopia. Coco could take the streak up to six, with a lovely division of three Disney and three Pixar releases winning the award.
Magic Band Discounts
Quick, name the most glaring omission with Magic Bands thus far! Yes, it’s that the various discounts such as annual pass holder and Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member savings aren’t listed on the Magic Band. For this reason, you have to carry around your wallet so that you can show the cast member your qualifying membership card to get a discount. Otherwise, you’re paying 10-20 percent more for the same merchandise and meals.
The situation is aggravating, and I say that as an annual pass holder and DVC member. Thankfully, Disney has heard the outcry from guests like me. They’ve recently added new technology that solves the problem. As of right now, when you use a Magic Band to pay somewhere on the Disney campus, the scanning system will recognize your available discounts. At least, they will if you’re an annual pass holder with the pass linked to your My Disney Experience account and Magic Band.
And that’s just the first caveat.
You also MUST pay with the Magic Band. Simply showing the Magic Band and then trying to pay with cash or a credit card won’t work. You will lose the available discount that way. Similarly, it only works at Table Service restaurants at the moment. As Disney tests the new technology, they’ve only enabled it at their best eateries. If you’re entitled to a discount at your favorite Quick Service establishment, you’ll still have to show your card. Similarly, several merchandise outlets aren’t participating yet. Again, you must show your card at these places to get the discount. And DVC discounts aren’t activated via Magic Band yet.
Basically, the new technology is in a beta phase right now. Disney’s testing it on a small scale to make sure that everything works. Presumably, they’ll address the current omissions at a later date, similar to how they’ve slowly rolled out the Mobile Order technology.
Just to be safe, you should continue to bring your membership cards and picture identification with you for the time being. A few months from now, however, Disney may have fixed the one glaring issue with Magic Bands. That’s a welcome improvement and further proof that Disney is doing everything possible to maximize your enjoyment during a park visit.