Abigail Disney Shares that The Walt Disney Company “Needs to be Saved From Itself”

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Abigail Disney Shares that The Walt Disney Company “Needs to be Saved From Itself”. Recently, Disney Heiress Abigail Disney spoke with THR about her concerns with The Walt Disney Company. The granddaughter of Roy O. Disney has always been outspoken about her feelings regarding the business her grandfather helped to build and has expressed concern for years over the structure changes and the treatment of lower level employees. Many members of the Disney family have built on Walt’s quote, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality,” over the years, but Abigail has been fighting to bring more attention to TWDC’s practices and treatment of those in their employ to the public on behalf of Cast Members around the world.

Disney shared with THR’s Kim Masters, “I don’t believe that the company and the magic can survive this kind of corporate behavior, I don’t think that the brand, as solid gold as it is, will last. And it is the kind of brand that is so enormous and all-encompassing and people invest so much into it, I don’t think it will erode slowly, it will fall over like a great sequoia … I am a little bit about saving the company over the long term. I think the company needs to be saved from itself.

One aspect that is highly concerning for Abigail is the unwillingness of corporate leaders to acknowledge the lack of compensation for front line workers in the company while they continue to bring in record bonuses and pay increases for themselves year after year as cast members go homeless or without food. Over the past few years there have been many instances where cast members were caught trying to syphon off the companies earnings themselves to make ends meet and subsequently were fired for doing so. Though that behavior obviously can not be tolerated there may have been a different story or outcome if they didn’t feel pressure on their finances at the time.

The high, high compensation at the top tends to come as a reward for pushing down compensation at the bottom. When I try and draw a direct line between how the C-suite is paid and how the hourly workers are paid, when I try to draw a direct line between some of those things, I think they look at me like I am speaking in some kind of alien language, because to them that is the dumbest thing they have ever heard. To them there is no relationship between what we pay a line worker or a shift worker and what we pay Bob Iger. Let’s not pretend that [employees that get laid off] go somewhere and disappear; they lose their houses, they are homeless, and they have to steal things to eat.

Disney has also shared she understands her privilege as an heiress, but feels the company has taken a turn away from what matters most and greed is a large aspect of the issues she sees in many corporate positions. Abigail shared, “My grandfather made a lot of money, and he provided for me and my children of course, he wasn’t shy about taking compensation,” Disney says. “I’m not talking about ownership, I am saying are you willing to put everything you have up again and again and again, every single time, with the chance of losing everything, because that is what my grandfather did … He would never have taken a $66 million payday, never. And not because he was a perfect guy, but because it wasn’t done, it just wasn’t done.

There is no question it’s baffling, there is probably something to know in the fact that it was baffling, because he doesn’t do things that way,” Disney elaborates, “[Iger] is a nice man and a great manager, I have nothing personal against him, but his strategy from day one was to buy Pixar, buy Lucasfilm, he was a purchaser of creativity which added and added to the machine.

Abigail added that she has not only become disappointed in the company structure, but is highly disgruntled over the appointment of Bob Chapek to The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors and feels the company is lacking in originality and storytelling, the key components that set Disney apart from other studios and companies in the first place.

“It was extremely disappointing to see a person who never held a creative job in his life take over the company,” Disney added. “It is just a business, it is the deli, they are selling salami, and they are slicing it as thin as they can possibly slice it, because they are not making any more salami.”

Do you agree with Abigail’s concerns? Should The Walt Disney Company heed her warnings? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Be sure to check back here at Chip and Co. for updates for all things Disney!

Featured Photo Credit: CNBC/via YouTube/The Walt Disney Company

Source: THR


Kaitlyn

21 thoughts on “Abigail Disney Shares that The Walt Disney Company “Needs to be Saved From Itself”

  1. Working for Disney had always been a dream job and I became a cast member 4 years ago at one of the Disney Stores (not in FL or CA). I was furloughed from March to July, but since our return, I can say employee morale and motivation have all but left the building and is surely at an all-time low throughout the company. Pandemic or not, it’s a real bummer to see and feel such a drastic switch in any workplace. Walt always felt like the cast is what and who made the magic – it is obvious that current upper management does not feel the same way. It’s no longer the Ohana feeling it once was. Many of us that have returned feel unmotivated, underappreciated, and replaceable. I feel like I still do my best to be the magic that I feel the Disney company SHOULD STILL be representing, but it’s getting harder to justify my hard work and best intentions when it has become so obvious the real priorities of the company have shifted. At the end of the day, it is all about the numbers, units per transaction and conversion rates. And while that may have always been the case – the Magic was there to conceal that. The magic is fading, and fast.

  2. I have been saying this for some time after reading their Annual Report. It was quite an eye-opening experience to see not only the annual compensation, but the excessive financial bonuses and the “perks” they are allowed in the Parks, etc. There is absolutely no reason for the amounts of money they are paying themselves — without even taking into account that MANY others in the company are suffering. One bonus could have kept most or all of those furloughed on salary. I am also unhappy with many of the changes being undertaken at the Parks. The experience is nowhere near what it has been in the past. The last time I was at WDW, I felt none of the “magic,” and, in fact, had a few issues during my vacation, which were NOT rectified to my satisfaction. That was not the Disney I knew, and it was very noticeable. I’m not sure what Abigail Disney can do about any of it, but the more people are aware of the issues, the disproportion, and the distance from the original values, the more likely there will be some rectifying of the situation. I, too, am not sure the company will survive if things don’t change soon.

  3. My husband and I have been WDW supporters since 1975 and we have seen things go down hill. We have to give them credit for trying to keep everyone safe during the past year. There is one point I would like to see changed and that is the hugh bonuses of top executives whereas there are many layoffs of lower staff employees. My family has been DVC members for awhile and are concerned with Disney’s future. Many employees from other companies are taking cuts in pay just to keep a job – how about the execs?

  4. You’re taking comments from an heiress that has benefited from this business without working a day in her life. She has no idea what is going on. She doesn’t care what’s going on. Why give her the time of day? She’s literally virtue signaling and y’all are eating it up. She’s a toxic social climber.

  5. Disney is for family and magic, love, entertainment. It is a place to enter and just forget your problems because you are in a magical place. The front line Disney Worley’s are the key to making Disney run correctly. They keep the magic there. They do all the hard work, all the face to face work. They greet us when we come in. They keep everything running and for them to not be valued by Disney executives is not only wrong, it’s so undisney like. It is mean and lacks any respect or loyalty for their employees. They feel they don’t have to treat them with value because people are always applying. Loyalty, years of service, cost of living, wether you can pay rent, have a family, etc are not possible. So, if your dream is to work for Disney and you’’ll be working as a cast member, you are not valued and not compensated. Disney executives should wise up and stop talking these huge salaries and bonuses and start treating their cast members ( the heart of Disney) better,( much better) and with raises. Wide up , that’s NOT what Disney is all about. Proven fact: happy employees and ones who feel valued are more productive. It would be better and more cost effective to pay your trained cast members better than to keep paying and training the constant turnaround of employees- main reason- they can not survive on their pay!

  6. Disneyland has become a disaster. They sell too many tickets for a ridiculous high price, so the park is overcrowded and then you are lucky if you can get on four or five rides all day. Their movies have become sketchy, amd all they are interested in is selling low quality toys from China to children

  7. I completely agree with Abigail. It must be difficult to be an heiress to a company that has become unrecognizable anymore. As a past Cast Member I must say I was not happy at all with the way I was treated during my time there, so I am very glad I was not employed when the pandemic hit. Disneyland and the sister parks are all nothing but a huge ball of very over-priced retail that can now only cater to a more affluent sector of the public.
    There are many wonderful, magical places in this country to visit that do not cost a small fortune to go and visit. Disney needs to go back to the roots of what Walt and Roy envisioned the park to be instead of using greed as a benchmark for success.

  8. I agree with her. She hit the nail on the head. We opted for Universal this trip instead of Disney. We had a great vacation at half the price of Disney. We will have to think long and hard before we give Disney any more of our hard earned money.

  9. They are just pricing the average family out of the magic. With admission, food and beverage pricing and paying to park at parks and resorts it is getting crazy

  10. My daughter is 1 of the 28,000 recently laid off cast members. We visited her (and all 4 Disney Parks) last week one last time before her cast member perks are gone. Walt and Roy would be soooo disappointed if they visited their parks today….nothing more than a slightly glorified county fair costing $129/day/person while a lot of the attractions are closed – no parades, no fireworks, no character interactions – just to name a few. I guess if you’ve never been to WDW you don’t know what you’re missing but compared to other times we’ve gone – very sad and disappointing. I would have never paid the admission they’re currently charging for the experience we had – complete rip-off. I do appreciate they are trying in a pandemic but they should reconsider their admission pricing to be more in line with what they are offering guests. For my daughters sake I hope Disney can rebound and hire cast members back in 2021. And hopefully upper management will realize the true value and magic of the WDW Company is because of the front line cast members who make the parks truly magical. A lot of the cast members we encountered last week were not typical of Disney – they were not friendly and acted as if they didn’t want to be there. My daughter would do anything to have the opportunity to go back as a cast member. Fingers crossed Disney management finds a way to make magic again!

  11. I agree with Abigail. The Disney company has become morally bankrupt. When corporations make astronomical salaries but are laying off frontline essential employees it has truly lost what Walt and Roy wanted and achieved. Without the cast members that make the magic and who we as customers interact with then Disney is no longer a place for families. Pay them like they deserve to be paid. No one that sits behind a desk should be making obscene amounts of money while the cast members are unable to make ends meet, losing jobs, their homes and unable to feed themselves or their families! Disney used to be for the common man and families. Sadly they aren’t any longer.

  12. Disney company has lost its purpose and direction. It used to be a morally sound company. There were standards to meet. Now it’s an anything goes philosophy that has to be politically correct to satisfy the minority. They are also catering to the rich. Who can afford even a one day pass to one park now days. $179/adult is ridiculous. You’re losing an entire group that would come every year if not more if it was affordable. And by the way, unmask!!!!!!

  13. In 1994, United’s pilots, machinists, bag handlers, and non-contract employees agreed to acquire 55% of company stock in exchange for 15% to 25% salary concessions. The flight attendants voted not to participate in the deal, and some initially wore buttons saying “we just work here.” The Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) made United the largest employee-owned corporation in the world. United used the opportunity to create the low-cost subsidiary Shuttle by United in an attempt to compete with low-cost carriers.

    Why not Disney?

  14. I also agree, for the past 6 years I bought my kids and grandkids season passes to Disney this is the first year I did not. Disney has become too corporate and not enough Disney

  15. Unfortunately your comments and Abigail’s position come from a place of people who do not understand business. Disney is an international conglomerate that is running many different businesses. The theme parks are just one aspect of those businesses. What the C-suite gets paid has to do with the company as a whole not just in regard to ticket takers and concessionaire workers at the theme parks. The value in what the executives do lies in running a company in a manner in which the stock price goes up even in a pandemic, while many of their theme parks are closed and the movies the company produces can not be seen in theaters. There is no direct line between the C-suite and front line workers in regard to pay scale because it’s irrelevant.

  16. The top level disconnect and greed is not just expressed in the way they treat the lower level employees. It has become clear to me that if you can’t spend $1000 per person per day between admission, meals, lodging, souvenirs, etc. you are not wanted in the Disney Parks. I don’t think Walt would be pleased that average people can’t experience the magic without an enormous financial sacrifice. I guess that is the key to the illness at Disney. If you are not making a lot of money as an employee or customer you just are not important to the board.

  17. I too agree with Abigail. I was a cast member for 4 years working in the main ticket booths, doing the annual passes (when we were pushed out of the Bank, into a building that wasn’t fit for restaurant use and eventually to the exit of Space Mountain by th bathrooms. When I first worked there in 2001we were treated with respect and given incentives (ice cream, food treats, etc) on especially heavy days surpassing record numbers of passes but when management changed we were nothing but a person who got no respect. I used to be proud to be part of the Disney cast member family but when the corporate mindset took over everything changed. I am still happy to have experience my time there and pray that the “family feeling” for cast members returns. Thank you Abigail for promoting the dreams of the Disney brothers.

  18. I totally agree with Abigail and as a cast member who tried to make magic for all our guests I am so very sad. The lay offs and high prices have really hurt the company’s image. Guests are not getting what they are paying for. With all the construction and rides closed the parks don’t seem like My Happy Place anymore. That being said those “top executives” are sitting back snd collecting the big bucks while the front line workers are sitting at home trying to make ends meet. Will The Disney Parks ever be again the way Walt and Roy wanted it? Hopefully someday but it the meantime I feel a lot of the Magic is gone!

  19. I agree. When the Disney Brothers created the company it was for families to enjoy time together. With the constant raising of prices it is making it unattainable for a lot of people. The Disney board of directors should be ashamed of themselves for thinking only of themselves. Taking big bonuses while hardworking cast members who are the actual magic makers are being let go is unforgivable. They are going destroy the magic people need in their lives when thing get tough. Roy and Walt knew how to bring the real magic to everyone and they should be making them proud not making themselves obnoxiously wealthy.

  20. I agree as well. Disney is about Making Dreams Magical enough to come true. The front line workers/cast members are the ones to make it happen, not the “Higher Ups”. They will just demand more from these lower paying members.
    They are so quick to raise prices, well pay the cast members a salary/paycheck they can live off of.
    66m$ salary is pure greed!!!

  21. I agree with her. It has totally become about the bottom line. The experience I had on my last visit to Disney was lacking when compared to earlier visits.

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