Why Are So Many People So Mad at Disney Right Now?
A lot of folks say they’re mad at Disney right now, which is akin to indicating that you dislike cute animal pictures and warm hugs.
However, I recently showed that I’m not super-happy with Disney at the moment, either.
So, why are people so mad at Disney right now, and what can the company do about it?
This one might anger people more than everything else on this list combined.
Some Disney fans believe that the company they love has priced them out of park visits.
The argument is interesting in that Disney+ is undoubtedly the best value of any streaming service in 2022.
So, the company doesn’t always price-gouge, and I could argue that nothing they’re doing at the parks is unreasonable.
After all, Disney just suffered catastrophic financial setbacks in many facets of its business, especially the theme parks.
You may not realize this, but some international Disney parks remain closed, while the cruise business sells only a fraction of its previous bookings.
Disney does need money, and inflation has proven constant during the pandemic.
Disney isn’t the only one doing this. In fact, the parks should get a pass for the rising price of food, as supply issues and inflationary costs are a factor everywhere.
Still, people point to paying for Disney Genie+ instead of free FastPass as a sign of Disney’s greed.
I’ll never win this argument with the internet, but Disney was among the last theme park companies to do so.
Most of them like Cedar Point have done it for a decade or more.
Ergo, the explanation I hear the most about why people are mad at Disney is the one I believe is the most defensible.
Stuff’s gotten more expensive lately. That’s not on Disney.
However, fans express outrage every time the price goes up on anything, which is a never-ending cycle.
I have several friends who say the same thing, but I’ll use someone semi-famous to make a point.
A wrestling announcer named Tony Schiavone has called pay-per-view events since the 1980s.
He hosts a popular podcast and has a strong social media presence. His rule is that he’ll never discuss politics because he hates the topic so much.
That’s a popular opinion in society. Some people want various entities to stay out of politics, and that rule seems to go quadruple if the opinion disagrees with their own.
Many folks want a person or company to stay out of it unless they say exactly what the individual wants to hear.
I won’t lie here. I do this, too, as it’s basic human nature.
In one example, I quit being a fan of an actor from Firefly/Serenity after he sicced his fans on an actress from Firefly/Serenity. That’s just low character.
Disney executives know how we feel, and that’s the problem. Former CEO Bob Iger felt strongly that his company should stay out of it unless speaking up was the right thing to do.
Nobody even remembers this now, but Iger came down hard against a policy from the last administration.
Bob Chapek has tried to do the opposite. He’s a Tony Schiavone type who wants to stay out of politics, which he did right up until he couldn’t anymore.
A controversial bill in Florida caused cast members to express outrage and walkouts when Disney wouldn’t speak out against it.
When Disney finally said something, it came far too late and primarily only antagonized the other side of the political aisle.
Nothing says incompetence like ticking off everybody. We don’t live in a world where anyone can stay out of politics totally, and Disney keeps getting caught in the middle.
Customer Service Decline
Once again, I have mixed emotions about this one. I was once in a Facebook group wherein a woman randomly described all the ways she abused Disney’s goodwill.
Her bragging came across as a confession, as she discussed all the ways she got free stuff and thousands of dollars in refunds from Disney.
A couple of years later, I learned about a Disney program that tracks repeat offenders, the so-called Karens — sincere apologies if you’re named Karen – who ruin it for everyone.
Disney has always provided the best customer in the world, so much so that other companies pay Disney executives to come in and teach its ways.
However, I think that Disney was doing too much for some folks who frankly didn’t deserve it.
Contrast that to what we’ve witnessed lately, though. A LOT of frequent Disney customers are livid about their recent experiences with Disney customer service.
Even as an extreme optimist, I’ve noticed the shocking decline in quality. Part of it stems from staffing.
Disney laid off tens of thousands of workers in 2020, and many of them either haven’t returned or chose not to come back.
Like anything else, customer service is a skill that requires experience to master.
I used to be the last line of defense for a hotel chain when disgruntled brides would call me on their wedding nights and tell me their rooms weren’t available.
Having taken care of those customers, I know how much training matters in finding solid solutions in challenging circumstances.
Lately, Disney has kinda given up the ghost on this, figuring that people will visit the parks anyway. And that’s a disappointment.
Disney had historically overcorrected with customer service, but it’s currently a pale shadow of its former self. This situation requires prioritization.
Not paying people enough
Cast members are angrier about this than Disney fans, but this frustration actually applies to most current critics.
The Walt Disney Company signed a tiered contract with all its major unions before the pandemic.
These new agreements guaranteed incremental pay increases for cast members over time.
What nobody could have anticipated were the two things I’ve already mentioned: inflation and the pandemic-related layoffs.
Suddenly, Disney’s promised salaries no longer looked so good. Also, many cast members understandably took it personally when Disney laid them off.
Those early months of 2020 came with tremendous uncertainty, and Disney abandoned many of its loyal employees. That comes at a cost.
We’re the one paying the price now, as Disney’s reduction in customer service partially stems from a lack of financial incentive for these cast members to return.
Not coincidentally, Disney now offers signing bonuses and other incentives to lure workers in highly desired positions like chefs and cleaning crew.
However, these prices don’t stem the rising cost of housing in Central Florida, which has gotten ridiculous.
According to a Zillow email I got this past weekend, the average home in the 34747 zip code increased in value from $318,262 in 2021 to $441,166.
Disney doesn’t have the finances to make this step right now, but it needs to find a way to increase salaries for cast members while simultaneously reducing their expenses.
Free housing, education, and meals are ideas that other theme parks have employed in the past that could come into play here.
People feel the same way about CEO Bob Chapek that New York Giants fans do about former head coach Joe Judge.
Like Judge, Chapek has become the whipping boy for all that’s wrong at Disney. And the Giants fired Judge earlier this year, triggering outbursts of glee across the Northeast.
All the other issues I’ve discussed fall on Chapek’s back. At this point, there’s such a backlash against him that I don’t know how Disney can extend his contract.
I’m someone who believes Chapek has done relatively well overall. After all, Disney hasn’t collapsed after the worst financial setback in its 99-year history.
Still, there comes a point where perception becomes reality.
Chapek as a failed CEO is definitely the perception, and I don’t know what he can do to save himself at this point.
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Feature Photo: Disney