Disney at 100 Years: Everlasting Entertainment and a Spellbinding Future

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Presentation of paper

‘‘“Not great, Bob!” Disney Parks, Anti-fandom & the Contested Authorship of the Celebrity CEO’

Many fans of the Disney theme parks engage in discussion about the history, current state, and future of these sites (Williams 2020). Such fans are keenly aware of those who are responsible for them, primarily demonstrating interest in the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Disney Company and the Chairman of Parks, Experiences and Products. In 2020 when long-term CEO Bob Iger stood down as Company CEO, he was replaced by Bob Chapek who had previously been unpopular with fans as Chairman of Parks. Despite the appointment of his own replacement, Josh D’Amaro, ongoing issues within the Parks (e.g., price increases, poor maintenance, a lack of new attractions, and the removal of free perks such as hotel parking) were blamed solely on Chapek. In turn, the sarcastic hashtag #notgreatBob (a line from a scene in the TV series Mad Men which was turned into a meme) was often utilised on social media to blame Chapek for everything negative about the Parks. When Chapek was removed in November 2023, and replaced by the returning Bob Iger, fans were elated, welcoming back the ‘good’ CEO, and celebrating the loss of Chapek.

This paper explores the centrality of the Disney CEO, and the Head of Parks, to Disney fans and considers their function as an ‘author’ of the Parks, even though these are designed, built, and managed by a range of Disney employees. Considering Iger and Chapek as celebrity CEOs (Littler 2007), the paper considers how Parks fans have focused their anti-fandom (Gray 2003) on Chapek as the ‘bad object’ (Lewis 1992) of their fandom. Highlighting his overt focus on profit and corporate synergy, his lack of understanding and respect for the Parks’ history, and his derision towards those who visit these places, Parks fans demonstrate their own values and priorities via a range of anti-fan discourses.

Period26 Jun 202330 Jun 2023
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Disney
  • celebrity studies
  • theme parks
  • anti-fandom