From Moana to Pandora to Feuding Politics–Disney’s 2024 Annual Shareholders Meeting

From Moana to Pandora to Feuding Politics–Disney’s 2024 Annual Shareholders Meeting

The Walt Disney Company held its annual meeting of Shareholders. This event was seminal in that it concluded a feud between outside investors and Disney. It allowed Bob Iger to emphasize a message of ‘Renewed Strength’. But there is more to learn from all of the tea leaves of this presentation. We’ll discuss not just some of the many facets of where Disney is and what it intends to do moving forward, but focus largely on parks and experiences–to include new insights on the Padora/Avatar attraction coming to Disneyland Resort., and its possible tie to an announcement about the Autopia this week. We’ll also look at Bob Iger’s own response to Universal’s Epic Universe being built just down the way, and how Disney has been “strategically” anticipating this addition for over ten years. So join us as we look at the results and insights of Disney’s 2024 Annual Shareholder’s Meeting.

You can find this podcast on iTunesSpotifyPodbean, and ListenNotes. Please subscribe to the podcast and to this website so you can be notified of upcoming posts and podcast.

Be sure to subscribe to this podcast and give us a rating, review, or referral to others. Also check out Disney Insights where we offer key points, photos, videos, links and more. While there, please subscribe to Disney Insights where you can be notified of upcoming podcasts. Also check out our Facebook page, Disney Insights and our YouTube page of the same name.

Preface to the Meeting

Before Disney shareholders convened online on March 3rd, 2024 for the annual shareholder’s meeting, there had already been a lot of politics going–and practically none of it here having to do with the state of Florida. At stake was an effort by two entities to gain seats on The Walt Disney Company’s board, thus affecting CEO Bob Iger’s efforts to entirely direct the future of The Walt Disney Company. One was Nelson Pelz, who along with former Disney CFO, Jay Rasulo, saw the stock as undervalued, and wanted to initiate some short-term strategies to increase shareholder value. Meanwhile, Blackwell is supportive of Iger, but wants to add different shareholders to the board that have more media experience.

Declaring the proxy fight “disruptive and destructive” Iger has led a 40 million dollar campaign that included former footage of Ludwig von Drake directing shareholders on not only how to vote but who to vote for, by and large he had tremendous support, which included Michael Eisner, both sides of the Walt and Roy Disney families, and even individuals like George Lucas (currently Disney’s largest shareholder), former Disney Imagineering head Bob Weiss, and actor, Josh Gad, of Frozen Olaf fame.

Curiously, after so many decades, Disney’s individual shareholders still make up over 1/3 of the votes, and may have been the thing that threw the vote in Iger’s favor.  

Even though polls were open at the opening of the meeting, Reuter’s had already learned that a large percentage of votes had been cast to fairly guarantee that Triad’s efforts nor Blackwell’s would not succeed. Frankly Nelson Pelz’s remarks which went over the set 3 minute time frame sound almost like it knew it wouldn’t succeed.

In truth there is something to say that the work of Triad and Blackwell, in that the focus did increase shareholder value. Sometimes competition brings attention.

Other proposals were brought to the table. One dealt with doing away with Golden Parachutes. Another dealt with more transparency when it comes to supporting politicians. In truth most proposals brought forward by individual shareholders are rejected by Disney, and ultimately by the collective shareholder group. It doesn’t help when cases presented by shareholder are emotive, and even spiteful.

As if the voted outcome was already determined on all of this before the shareholder’s meeting, Bob Iger then shared the following in a presentation recorded much earlier from Disneyland. At the outset he noted:

  • Disney is in the business of storytelling, and nothing is more important than creativity.
  • We are building our businesses for growth.
  • Our plans are ambitious, our strategy is working, and our future is bright.

He then went on to emphasizing four objectives, two of which he combined in his remarks:

1. Reinvigorating creativity at Disney’s film studios

Iger pointed to the fact that Disney’s film and TV studios are both coming off a stellar awards season, with Disney leading the industry with 20 Oscar® nominations, including five wins. Disney also received 27 Golden Globe® nominations and won top prizes for Poor Things and FX’s The Bear. And at this year’s Primetime Emmy® Awards, Disney took home 37 wins, which was more than any other entertainment company.

He then went on to note a number of films and other releases for 2024, which is decent, given the writer’s and actor’s strike from last year.

  • Kingdom of the Planet of Apes in May
  • Inside Out 2 in June
  • Deadpool & Wolverine in July
  • Alien: Romulus in August
  • Moana 2 in November
  • Mufasa: The Lion King in December

Relative to Moana, which only showed an artwork image, Iger noted:

“Three years since her first voyage, Moana is heading out on an epic journey to find and reconnect the people of the ocean. We can’t wait to take audiences on another amazing journey with Moana and Maui, and we are excited to confirm that both Auli‘i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson are back reprising their roles.”

Then he emphasizes:

“Moana remains an incredibly popular franchise,” Iger added. “The original film from 2016 recently crossed 1 billion hours streamed on Disney+ and was the most streamed movie of 2023 on any platform in the U.S.” Note that he didn’t say Disney+ but “any platform” when he noted the most streamed movie of 2023.

2. Achieving sustained profitability in streaming

These efforts were combined with the 3rd objective:

3. Positioning ESPN for the future and turning it into the preeminent digital sports platform

Overall, Iger noted, Disney’s current and future direct-to-consumer offerings are “a clear differentiator for the company in a very competitive landscape.”

“We remain poised to reach profitability in our combined streaming business by the end of this fiscal year, and deliver significant, sustained growth in the future,” he added. “We have the most valuable brands and franchises, a deep library of popular titles built over the past 100 years, powerful content engines, multiple consumer touchpoints, and the best advertiser technology in the streaming business globally. No one has the breadth of what Disney has when it comes to streaming.”

4. Turbocharging growth in the company’s Experiences business, including domestic and international Parks and Disney Cruise Line

Iger spoke of the following:

  • Three additions being made in Asia
  • Epic Games and a potential entertainment universe with Fortnite
  • Upcoming Disneyland Forward Initiative to be approved by the Anaheim City Council for final approval later this month.

This lead to the only real park announcement made–one that emphasized what could happen with approval the Disneyland Forward project:

Image by Disney.

Bob Iger announced the following (bold added):

“We’re thrilled about many potential new stories that our guests could experience at Walt’s original theme park, including the opportunity to embark on all-new Avatar adventures with a visit to the world of Pandora,” Iger said. “Our Imagineers have been hard at work dreaming up what guests might expect.”

Avatar’s The Way of Water feels very represented in this image

  • Avatar’s The Way of Water feels very represented in this image
  • The water is very clear, similar to Nemo’s Submarine Voyage
  • There are boats on the water, with greater capacity than found in Na’vi River Journey
  • The boats are heading toward the mountain on the right which is likely a show building
  • The other mountain on the left side could be another attraction, but could also simply be a way to hide another part of the park
  • This week Disney announced exclusively to The Los Angeles Times that the company is changing out gasoline engines on the Autopia for electric.
  • Originally the Autopia was four lanes–two emanating out of Fantasyland and two coming out of Tomorrowland
  • A Motor Boat Cruise was also out of Fantasyland–long closed, but the dock and waters are still there.
  • Could they change the course of Autopia and squeeze this attraction into a lesser space?
  • Could the old Carousel of Progress building be leveled and host a part of the Autopia, leaving more space?
  • What about the monorails? Could they be shortened? Could the be hidden? What about the PeopleMover?

Being a Responsible Citizen

Disney also spoke to being dedicated to having a positive impact in the community around us. This includes:

  • Bringing “joy and comfort” in the design of children’s hospitals around the world
  • Disney’s Heroes Work Here with hiring more than 13,000 veterans
  • Disney Aspire–with some 15,000 involved
  • 150,000 wishes granted through Make a Wish making it the Number 1 wish granter in the world.


Questions were texted and then read via online software. This has evolved into what feels very prepared ahead of time, though there were some questions that made it look anything but. But there were some key messages and insights I have summarized from it

  • Parks are special places. How is Disney looking to keep that. We are constantly soliciting guest feedback, such as more flexible park hopping. Spending 60 billion dollar is intended to supporting that. 70% is about creating greater capacity. 30% is intended for improving technology and infrastructure.
  • With Epic Universe is opening, why isn’t Disney ready? Couldn’t be further from the truth. Disney has known about it for 10 years, and has a strategic approach. In that same period, Pandora, Toy Story, Mickey & Minnie, Star War’s, Epcot Transformation and Tron were opened to address this. Based on guest experience from all of these items, we know that they are extremely popular and serving guests well. By the way the agreement we reached last week will allow us to move forward with future development projects. The 60 billion is part of this.
  • September 2023 Disney Experiences plan. So far there has been no announcement but “Blue Sky” ideas. We have a lot of projects, many are known to us. We announce on a cadence and when we have something to show for it.
  • Is it possible for Disney to stay out of political? Our job is to entertain first and foremost. We can have a positive impact on the world and inspire. Disney will continue to be a source of joy and optimism. We have a responsibility to do good in the world, not necessarily to advance any special agenda.

By the way, there’s a great article on how Disney and DeSantis came to a compromise–or something like this. It’s called “Ron DeSantis Claims Victory Over Disney And All He Had To Do Was Give Disney Everything They Wanted” . Click here to read.

A Century of Powerful Disney Insights Book

You can order my newest book, “A Century of Powerful Disney Insights” on Amazon. It’s a great way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company. In over 100 years, The Walt Disney Company has emerged as one of the most successful entertainment entities across the globe. In this, the first of two volumes, we study the first 50 years of Disney, beginning with Walt and Roy. We look at major milestones and not only see the evolution of an organization begun in a garage, but how it truly became so beloved to millions around the world. From Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse through Snow White and Cinderella, from the Mouseketeers to Mary Poppins, and from Disneyland to Walt Disney World, we share stories and insights from 1923 to 1973. We hope you’ll be inspired with ideas and how you can apply these stories to your own life and work. 

Order your copy today!

Want to Create Excellence in Your Organization?

This podcast and post is provided by J. Jeff Kober and Performance Journeys, which celebrates more than 20 years as a training and development group bringing best in business ideas through books, keynotes, workshops, seminars and online tools to help you take your organization to the next level.

Want a Keynote Speaker? More than just nice stories, I offer proven insight and solutions having worked in the trench.

Need Consulting? I’ve worked for decades across the public, private and non-profit arena. 

Need Support? We offer so many classroom, online, and other resources to help you improve your customer service delivery, leadership development and employee engagement.

Contact us today, and let us help you on your Performance Journey!

J. Jeff Kober

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *