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Eisner

Adam Snider

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
To people who were around or know more than me, what do/did people think of Eisner? I’m watching the Imagineering story and seems like a good CEO.
How does he compare to Iger in your opinion?
 

Animaniac93-98

Well-Known Member
To people who were around or know more than me, what do/did people think of Eisner? I’m watching the Imagineering story and seems like a good CEO.
How does he compare to Iger in your opinion?
Iger would not be the CEO he is, or have the company to run the way the way it exists, without Eisner.

Eisner hand picked Iger to succeed him, despite some reservations, and forever changed the future of his career.

In terms of accomplishments, Eisner turned the small, family owned Walt Disney Productions into the media giant that is The Walt Disney Company. No other Disney CEO will likely achieve that kind of transformation, or do it as successfully as he did.

What the third episode of the Imagineering Story captures is that feeling of boundless ambition and success that characterized the first decade of his time as CEO. For those who were alive back then, it was a really exciting time to be a Disney fan because you truly believed that the next big thing the company was doing was going to live up to the hype and Eisner's enthusiasm and charisma on television made it seem like he honestly did too.

After Frank Wells died and Euro Disney under-preformed, Eisner's enthusiasm, confidence and trust in himself and others continued to dwindle and there was no one around at his level that he trusted to say what he was doing was wrong and not good for the company in the long term. He had to go in order for the company to move on and save its reputation.

Iger's main accomplishment as CEO has been to purchase and imitate the success of others and keep the company's business running with a certain level of consistency. He does not really understand, or have much passion for, what made Disney a success before he was given control of it, in particular the movies and parks. He lacks the charisma and imagination of his mentor, something Eisner assumed would be the case going forward with most corporate CEOs. Iger has never soured Disney to extent Eisner did, but he hasn't really left much of a mark and the biggest hits during his tenure (like Frozen) are really the result of others doing the heavy lifting for him.
 

Sir_Cliff

Well-Known Member
I think @lazyboy97o has really given the key to figuring out the answer to this question.

That said, I also think the latest episode of the Imagineering Story hinted very strongly at the situation. After Euro Disney tanked and Frank Wells died, Eisner morphed from a champion of unbridled imagination in the parks to trying to engineer a post-theming future for the parks. In other words, the guy who seemed to perfectly "get" the parks and, for example, appreciate the genius in making EPCOT Center something completely different to MK suddenly became the person who approved Walt Disney Studios Paris, DCA, and HKDL. In the Imagineering Story, they talk about having to learn a whole new language during this period to try and get projects approved.

Tony Baxter also hinted at something that is referenced in DisneyWar. In the book, Stewart recalls sitting in with Eisner and senior executives at Eisner's invitation while Eisner spouted ideas. His relatively diplomatic take is that the ideas were not all necessarily bad, but they also weren't great and no-one was pushing back. Baxter mentions that Eisner's ideas ranged from good to ugly, but he listened to Wells who would tell him when his ideas were bad. It appears that moderating force that Eisner would listen to disappeared when Wells died. After that, Eisner apparently didn't listen to anyone.
 

lazyboy97o

Well-Known Member
Iger would not be the CEO he is, or have the company to run the way the way it exists, without Eisner.
And Tom Staggs. More than Eisner and Iger, Staggs is the unsung architect of Disney post-Frank Wells. He was the head of the Strategic Planning Group to whom Eisner deferred to his demise and who Iger disbanded through promotion to his adulation.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
Eisner was average in building relationships outside of Disney. Iger is better at it. But in terms of building wealth, Eisner joined the BBC. (Billionaire Boys Club). Iger will soon to follow.
 

yoda_5729

Well-Known Member
I think Eisner was good for the company, and I think he, more then Iger appreciated Walt Disney World especially. I don't think he was perfect, and he certainly has many detractors. Though I very much like and appreciate the series The Imagineering Story on Disney+, I wished they'd have spent longer exploring the resorts, and other aspects of the Parks then simply the theme parks. I know they obviously have a lot to wedge in, but some of the imagineering that has been done and showcased at the resorts is quite impressive, and so far little to nothing has been mentioned. During the Disney Decade, Eisner expanded the use of hotels rooms and resorts inside Walt Disney World, and I don't think he properly got the credit he deserved for that in the special, at lease in my opinion.
 

Shouldigo12

Well-Known Member
If you want a more behind the scenes look, Disney War is a great book. Although be warned; it can get very dry at times and focuses way more on corporate politics than I was expecting. If you don't want to read it though, Larryz's tldr is good summary.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
Eisner was good for Disney and did much to turn the company around at a time when things could have been disasterous. Him and Wells came in at the perfect time, they made a great team and together they made some great moves. After Wells died Eisner started to stumble seemed to lose his way. It was getting to the point where he was looking out for himself and enriching himself off of Disney instead of taking care of business. When he saw there was a movement to oust him he made more poor decisions and Iger was in the right place at the right time to step in. Iger had also made some advantageous decisions for Disney and has also made his fortune. He has also had good decisions and bad ones. They both were good for Disney overall. IMHO I cant rate one over the other by looking at their entire runs as head of the company. Both had sucesses and failures. But I dont think either was bad for Disney. They certainly were better than the fellows that ran things before.
 
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lazyboy97o

Well-Known Member
Even before Frank’s death, he and Michael did things that would have negative long term consequences. Michael insistence on an executive-oriented creative process is what lead to a lot of bloat throughout the company, most visibly and often discussed in feature animation. They also believe that executives are executives and they don’t need prior experience and should be moved around between different divisions. This philosophy has been disastrous for the parks resulting in over two decades where the parks have not been lead by someone who ever sought or desired previous park experience.
 

kurtk

Well-Known Member
I thought I heard somewhere that a CEO can't be made a Disney Legend by the by the next CEO. Not sure if that is true or not. To me that would be the only thing keeping Eisner from being a Legend. Certainly the things he did at the beginning of his time at Disney makes him deserving.
 

Joeamc

Premium Member
It was Eisners Idea to put the Purple street signs all around the Disneyworld resort! That was pretty huge! lol. JK. I think he was great for WDW, under his reign they added many, many resorts at WDW. During his tenure we also got MGM studios, animal kingdom and the Disney cruise line. All pretty big deals.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
It was Eisners Idea to put the Purple street signs all around the Disneyworld resort! That was pretty huge! lol. JK. I think he was great for WDW, under his reign they added many, many resorts at WDW. During his tenure we also got MGM studios, animal kingdom and the Disney cruise line. All pretty big deals.
Eisner may have expanded guest offerings. Iger expanded the empire and beyond.
 

Sir_Cliff

Well-Known Member
TL;DR... Eisner was great -- until he wasn't.
Reading through this thread, I think this comment still says it best.

He seemed to really get what made the parks great, and then suddenly didn't. The Imagineers themselves mention that theming suddenly became a dirty word during the second half of his tenure, and it really showed. They even seemed to be actively desecrating the WDW parks for a while there with the giant Mickey hand and wand over Spaceship Earth and the hat in front of the Chinese Theatre at DHS.

While I strongly dislike the Magic Kingdom-fication of the parks and reliance on IP under Iger, you can at least understand what they're doing even if you disagree with it. It was very hard to know what was going on in the parks during that final period of Eisner's tenure, except maybe the search for cutting things back as close to the bone as possible.
 

lazyboy97o

Well-Known Member
Reading through this thread, I think this comment still says it best.

He seemed to really get what made the parks great, and then suddenly didn't. The Imagineers themselves mention that theming suddenly became a dirty word during the second half of his tenure, and it really showed. They even seemed to be actively desecrating the WDW parks for a while there with the giant Mickey hand and wand over Spaceship Earth and the hat in front of the Chinese Theatre at DHS.

While I strongly dislike the Magic Kingdom-fication of the parks and reliance on IP under Iger, you can at least understand what they're doing even if you disagree with it. It was very hard to know what was going on in the parks during that final period of Eisner's tenure, except maybe the search for cutting things back as close to the bone as possible.
Eisner though was starting to realize they had gone to far with the parks with projects like Mission: SPACE and Expedition Everest, while not without their issues, showing a somewhat revived ambitiousness. In his excitement over it, Eisner revealed the “Forbidden Mountain” project on an earnings call before it’s planned announcement. Iger didn’t build on the momentum of the generic coaster themed to India or whatever’s success but shut it all down, for years only acting when pushed by outside actors. Disney’s theming may be “more” but so much of it is theming by clutter, it exists to say it is detailed, as something that gets slathered on to whatever, and not as a thoughtful part of an experience.
 

Shouldigo12

Well-Known Member
Reading through this thread, I think this comment still says it best.

He seemed to really get what made the parks great, and then suddenly didn't. The Imagineers themselves mention that theming suddenly became a dirty word during the second half of his tenure, and it really showed. They even seemed to be actively desecrating the WDW parks for a while there with the giant Mickey hand and wand over Spaceship Earth and the hat in front of the Chinese Theatre at DHS.

While I strongly dislike the Magic Kingdom-fication of the parks and reliance on IP under Iger, you can at least understand what they're doing even if you disagree with it. It was very hard to know what was going on in the parks during that final period of Eisner's tenure, except maybe the search for cutting things back as close to the bone as possible.
In my opinion at least half of the issue in the later part of his tenure was his mental health. I think the stress of the job really started getting to him and sucked all of the joy out of it. He was paranoid, micromanaging, and so stressed he out himself in the hospital.
 

FutureCEO

Well-Known Member
In terms of accomplishments, Eisner turned the small, family owned Walt Disney Productions into the media giant that is The Walt Disney Company. No other Disney CEO will likely achieve that kind of transformation, or do it as successfully as he did.
To be fair: Iger has turned Disney into. But to be fair, there is an aspect of this we won't go into. They let them.

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