Who Is Bob Chapek? Everything You Want To Know About The New Disney CEO

He fell in love with Disney as a little boy.

Who Is Bob Chapek? Everything You Want To Know About The New Disney CEO Getty

Lots of little kids love visiting the Walt Dinsey World parks. But most of those kids never dream of the chance to become the CEO of the entire Disney empire. Bob Chapek is the exception. The 60-year-old Chapek is taking over as CEO effective yesterday after Bob Iger announced his plan to hand over the reins.

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Iger had been planning to retire, though the exact timeline for that process had changed several times. Though the announcement seems abrupts to observers, Iger and Chapek assured reporters that there is an internal transition plan that ensures the company will continue to thrive during this leadership adjustment. Iger will move into a new role as executive chairman, focused on the creative side of the Disney brand.

Before taking over as CEO, Chapek had been the chairman of Disney parks, experiences, and products. He's been with the company for decades and is well-positioned to put on the mouse ears to runt he whole show.


Who is Bob Chapek? Read on for all the details. 

1. Iger had been planning to retire for a while.

Iger oversaw some of the most major initiatives in recent Disney history as the company bought Marvel, merged with Fox Entertainment, and rolled out the Disney+ streaming service. He has been teasing his retirement plans for a while, though he kept pushing back his final day. He was widely expected to stick around in his current role until Dec 31, 2021. However, he told reporters and investors yesterday that he has been considering his future for the past few months and he no longer feels that being CEO is the best role for him. He will have the title executive chairman going forward and will focus more on the creative side instead of the day-to-day operation of the company. 

“It’s only abrupt in other people’s eyes because we haven’t been talking about it publicly,” Mr. Iger said on a call. “I have been discussing this with the board for a number of months. I basically described what I thought my best use was given that our asset base and strategy are pretty much in place. And that was to fully focus on the creative side of our business and make sure that our creative pipelines are vibrant.”

2. Who is Bob Chapek?

Bob Chapek is no stranger to the inner workings of the happiest company on earth. He has been with Disney for 27 years. He started with the home entertainment division in 1993, and was the inventor of the "vault" concept, where the company would re-release copies of their back-catalog of films for only a limited time every few years. He became president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios before moving into the role of president of consumer products for four years. In 2015, he was named chairman of Disney’s theme park operation and in 2018, the company rolled products and "experiences" into that division under his leadership


During his time the theme park role, he led the development of the Shanghai Disney Resort and oversaw two tremendous “Star Wars”-themed attractions at Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California



A post shared by Doctor Disney (@doctordisney) on Feb 25, 2020 at 1:37pm PST

Bob Iger and Bob Chapek. 


3. He says he started loving Disney as a little boy in Indiana.

On a call to investors about the transition, he talked about his personal history with the Disney brand. “When I was growing up in Hammond, IN, the son of a World War II veteran and working mother, my parents would take us on a family vacation to Walt Disney World every year,” he said during the call. “That’s where I developed a deep love for Disney and all that it stands for. That young boy could’ve never imagined that one day he would get the chance to lead this extraordinary company as the seventh CEO in its nearly 100-year history.”

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4. His story is almost Disney-movie-perfect.

As Chapek told investors, he's a Midwestern kid who was raised on Disney. He was the first member of his family to go to college at the University of Indiana Bloomington, and then went on to get his MBA from the University of Michigan. He married Cindy, his high school sweetheart, 40 years ago and the couple has three children and now has three grandchildren as well. He did a stint in advertising before getting his first job at Disney. 

5. "He is a really nice person."

While folks inside Disney knew that Iger was eyeing Chapek as his successor that wasn't public information so his appointment was a surprise to observers yesterday. Notably, he hasn't had a role on the creative side of the company, which didn't make him an obvious choice to lead the entertainment mega-company. On the other hand, he's a long-time veteran of the company and knows many of the facets of the brand. “Chapek is a really good, no-brainer pick — the other division leaders have been there too short of a time,” Michael Nathanson, a media analyst, said of the choice. “He’s a really nice person who is part of the Disney culture, which is important.” 


6. He sees the future of Disney as all about the stories.

Chapek says that the future of Disney, at its heart, is the same as Disney ever was. It's about telling timeless stories to audiences worldwide. "[The] core of everything… is really our creative storytelling,” Chapek told reporters. "And if the creative storytelling is right, then everything else is right."

Bob Chapek took over as Disney CEO yesterday, February 25, 2020.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.