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Who was the best Disney leader/CEO Poll

Who was the best Disney leader/CEO?


  • Total voters
    205

Pooh.sHoneyHuntTDL

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Yeah, this is Walt Disney in a rout isn't it? I know there are those who would suggest that perhaps Walt's vision for Epcot wouldn't have been feasible and as a business standpoint wouldn't have lasted. Perhaps, but Walt started it all and he wasn't afraid to fail. Even if the original Epcot did fail I don't doubt he does wonders with all of that space in Florida. Let's not forget, none of this is possible in Florida if he doesn't buy a ton of land in the first place.

So................after Walt? Eisner I guess if you have to pick someone.
People though Snow White would fail as well. Called it Disney's Folly.

He kept proving everyone wrong even though the critics kept saying every project he was on would fail.
 

Big Phil

Well-Known Member
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People though Snow White would fail as well. Called it Disney's Folly.

He kept proving everyone wrong even though the critics kept saying every project he was on would fail.
True enough..................a cartoon can't be a motion picture, can it? Well...................

Disneyland will never work. This is why banks didn't give Walt the money right away, he always said banks had no imagination.

Opening day at Disneyland was a disaster. He got grilled in the newspapers the following day.

Bottom line is, it all worked out and thrived. All because not only from a mouse, but from a man who would sit and eat peanuts on a bench (still located in Main Street in Disneyland) and watch his daughters at the playground and come up with ideas on how to build a park for everyone.

He was definitely a guy you didn't want to bet against.
 

Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
Are there no fans of the Roy Disney/Card Walker/Donn Tatum combo?

We wouldn't even be here without them!
Of all those mentioned, the biggest influence was Roy O. He gave the green light to continue on without Walt and build WDW. Probably more out of necessity then desire. How were they going to unload that many acres of swamp without adding some value to it. Donn was elevated when Roy passed away and other then Space Mtn and Pirates didn't seem to have a lot of affect on WDW, but he was likely heavily involved in getting EPCOT on the drawing board at least. The Card got it built and opened. All were good, but other then specific areas did not really expand the brand to the point of almost being to big to fail (nothing is BTW) All did their jobs well, but never ventured to far away from Walt's ideas and business philosophy's and that came close to seeing The Disney Company cut up and sold in chunks. All of them at some point in time did overlap and could have been consider partners. Roy and Donn, then Donn and Card. All the while lingering in the background was Ron Miller who held the reigns, after them, for about a decade before Eisner was brought on board.
 

Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
People though Snow White would fail as well. Called it Disney's Folly.

He kept proving everyone wrong even though the critics kept saying every project he was on would fail.
Yes, but this wasn't a cartoon or a theme park. This was an actual city with tight control restraints on it's occupants. Other companies were expected to keep the technology up to date by testing out new ideas on a population of stepford people with no control over anything and would have been levied a tax (or whatever they would have called it) to maintain the infrastructure which was going to be a huge expense. Building a model city is one thing and I have no doubt he could have built it and for a brief period of time, just like Celebration, people would have sheepishly been pulled into it. However, like Celebration a corporately owned city, with no power to the people would not have stuck for long.
 

tigerlight

Well-Known Member
Those two things are part and parcel of the package that was Walt Disney. You can list all the fact vs. myth until the cows come home, without Walt we would be vacationing in a small town swamp. Basically everything you see from Orlando south is there because of Walt Disney and his leadership and ability to give us what we wanted. You can even include Anaheim if you want. I'd say that was pretty much the top of the heap of any President/CEO one cares to mention. All the rest came on with something already establish and huge following based on an idea that was from the brain of WED. None of the others even come close to that and all achieved before the age of 66.
Yeah, it's easy to simplify things, isn't it? Give the glory to "Walt" and call it good. What you are saying disrespects all of the other people who worked for and around Walt... Yes he picked some (not all) of them, and he was the figurehead, but there was much more going on than just him calling the shots. What about Roy? What about the person at ABC that gave him the money for DL? What about the actual designers of the parks? What about Jack Lindquist who basically built the service culture of DL? Jack barely knew Walt (read his book). WDW (as Walt presented it) would have been a giant disaster had it been built as he wanted: the original Epcot plan was... not realistic to say it nicely, and it was not built for good reason. Had Walt survived and pushed that through the company could have wound up, well, gone.

NOT saying that Walt isn't an important historical figure... he absolutely is.... and he was absolutely a great business leader... but to the people who have his picture on their wall, or a statue of him on their nightstand I am suggesting he wasn't quite the person you think he was. There are independent, non-Disney biographers that have done good work on this. This is also similar to other historical figures who have had their accomplishments exaggerated or embellished over time, whether it's Thomas Jefferson, Jack Welch, or John F. Kennedy - and yes, I still think all three were great leaders of their time. What's unique about Walt is that his accomplishments/personality/etc. have been embellished by a for-profit corporation for the sole purpose of.... generating additional profits.

In terms of who was the best Disney leader I think there's little doubt that prize would belong to Eisner or Iger based on any appropriate business-related metrics. Both have presided over VAST expansions of the company, generated tens of thousands of jobs, dominated the competition, grew wealth for millions of people, presided over vast expansions of the brand with new IP, made successful acquisitions, and on and on and on.
 

Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
Yeah, it's easy to simplify things, isn't it? Give the glory to "Walt" and call it good. What you are saying disrespects all of the other people who worked for and around Walt... Yes he picked some (not all) of them, and he was the figurehead, but there was much more going on than just him calling the shots. What about Roy? What about the person at ABC that gave him the money for DL? What about the actual designers of the parks? What about Jack Lindquist who basically built the service culture of DL? Jack barely knew Walt (read his book). WDW (as Walt presented it) would have been a giant disaster had it been built as he wanted: the original Epcot plan was... not realistic to say it nicely, and it was not built for good reason. Had Walt survived and pushed that through the company could have wound up, well, gone.

NOT saying that Walt isn't an important historical figure... he absolutely is.... and he was absolutely a great business leader... but to the people who have his picture on their wall, or a statue of him on their nightstand I am suggesting he wasn't quite the person you think he was. There are independent, non-Disney biographers that have done good work on this. This is also similar to other historical figures who have had their accomplishments exaggerated or embellished over time, whether it's Thomas Jefferson, Jack Welch, or John F. Kennedy - and yes, I still think all three were great leaders of their time. What's unique about Walt is that his accomplishments/personality/etc. have been embellished by a for-profit corporation for the sole purpose of.... generating additional profits.

In terms of who was the best Disney leader I think there's little doubt that prize would belong to Eisner or Iger based on any appropriate business-related metrics. Both have presided over VAST expansions of the company, generated tens of thousands of jobs, dominated the competition, grew wealth for millions of people, presided over vast expansions of the brand with new IP, made successful acquisitions, and on and on and on.
If Walt didn't exist, those people wouldn't have been around him and therefore would not have been the focus of any attention that we now recognize as Walt Disney. Every successful person, one that has created a lasting thought or object that loudly claims to be their legacy will have all kinds of people surrounding them, advising, arguing or even just being a mule for them. They, of course, are part of what makes them successful, but if I had to guess I'd say that 98% of them would not have amounted to anything on their own. Credit always goes to whomever took the risk and drove the project through to completion.

The people that worked for WD took their every move from WD. He ruled with an iron and sometimes cruel hand. They only created within his imagination and approval. They were followers and those that weren't, moved on quickly. I don't necessarily think that is the best way to do things, but it does give that individual the credit for creating, via his little helpers, and not to them. He paid them to create, he took the risk. He may not have been able to do it without them, but it wouldn't be done at all without him. Roy O. was the only one that had the ultimate power that Walt had after Walt's death, but the staff he had was the same hand picked people that knew what Walt wanted and gave Roy that very thing. Roy was one of the originals and probably was responsible in some degree for Walt's success, but only in the role as adviser, Roy made the final decisions in the creation of WDW or building it, but the plan was in place already. Every person the lined up as head of that already existing company only added to it or took away from it, they didn't create it and wouldn't have had the raw material, TWDC, to stand on without Walt. All had their specific skills and talents, however, none of them were Walt Disney.
 
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tigerlight

Well-Known Member
If Walt didn't exist, those people wouldn't have been around him and therefore would not have been the focus of any attention that we now recognize as Walt Disney. Every successful person, one that has created a lasting thought or object that loudly claims to be their legacy will have all kinds of people surrounding them, advising, arguing or even just being a mule for them. They, of course, are part of what makes them successful, but if I had to guess I'd say that 98% of them would not have amounted to anything on their own. Credit always goes to whomever took the risk and drove the project through.

The people that worked for WD took their every move from WD. He ruled with an iron and sometimes cruel hand. They only created in his imagination and approval. They were followers and those that weren't, moved on quickly. I don't necessarily think that is the best way to do things, but it does give that individual the credit for creating via his little helpers and not to them. He paid them to create, he took the risk. He may not have been able to do it without them, but it wouldn't be done at all without him. Roy O. was the only one that had the ultimate power that Walt had after Walt's death, but the staff he had was the same hand picked people that knew what Walt wanted and gave Roy that very thing. Roy was one of the originals and probably was responsible in some degree for Walt's success, but only in the role as adviser, Roy made the final decisions in the creation of WDW or building it, but the plan was in place already. Every person the lined up as head of that already existing company only added to it or took away from it, they didn't create it and wouldn't have had the raw material, TWDC, to stand on without Walt. All had their specific skills and talents, however, none of them were Walt Disney.
And that reads like a corporate press release. I suspect you aren't interested in anyone else's opinion or changing your own opinion, and I doubt you've read the bios which explain things differently and are based on lots of actual research, interviews, etc. The reality is vastly more complicated that what you describe, and has a lot more do do with luck (being in the right place at the right time) than anything else. You also have no idea what would have happened to the people I mention had there been no Walt... although the Iwerks family would probably offer up some ideas.

It's fine to worship at the alter of Walt if that's what you choose to do. To the kids just learning about this stuff, I encourage you to read some books NOT published by The Walt Disney Company about Walt before aggrandizing him.
 

Sir_Cliff

Well-Known Member
In terms of who was the best Disney leader I think there's little doubt that prize would belong to Eisner or Iger based on any appropriate business-related metrics. Both have presided over VAST expansions of the company, generated tens of thousands of jobs, dominated the competition, grew wealth for millions of people, presided over vast expansions of the brand with new IP, made successful acquisitions, and on and on and on.
The point is that they wouldn't have even had a Disney to lead successfully if it wasn't for Walt Disney. Of course, Walt has been hugely mythologised and that has involved granting him a sense of omnipotence in driving everything the company created during his lifetime which isn't true. However, none of the company's CEOs can take credit for directing the movies, running the day to day of the theme parks, etc.

My view would be that, while Eisner and Iger vastly expanded Disney as a company and a brand, they have still essentially built on the foundations established under Walt's leadership. For example, Eisner during the mid-1980s to mid-1990s greatly expanded WDW, but there would have been no WDW for him to expand without Walt. Moreover, during Walt's time the company fundamentally shaped (though, of course, didn't create) how entire sections of the entertainment industry such as animation and theme parks have evolved to the present. I am struggling to think of anything similarly important that Disney has done under Eisner and Iger.
 

MAGICFLOP

Active Member
Iger by far gets the worst CEO for the guiding the moral slide of Disney...

He will watch Ga. and their Abortion laws and make a determination about if Disney pulls out filming there...
 

Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
And that reads like a corporate press release. I suspect you aren't interested in anyone else's opinion or changing your own opinion, and I doubt you've read the bios which explain things differently and are based on lots of actual research, interviews, etc. The reality is vastly more complicated that what you describe, and has a lot more do do with luck (being in the right place at the right time) than anything else. You also have no idea what would have happened to the people I mention had there been no Walt... although the Iwerks family would probably offer up some ideas.

It's fine to worship at the alter of Walt if that's what you choose to do. To the kids just learning about this stuff, I encourage you to read some books NOT published by The Walt Disney Company about Walt before aggrandizing him.
You talk about me not wanting to hear anyone else's opinion or changing my own opinion, what do you call what you are doing? None of the people that you are thinking were short changed had to stay with Walt, I don't think he held any prisoners. They stayed because he drove them to do things that they never would have done with out his wishes to react too. Iwerks, left and came back to Walt, more then once. He was not making it on his own, however, Walt recognized his immense talent and gave Iwerks a place to display that talent, Iwerks didn't have the personality to make something of himself to any degree higher then what he achieved. Walt asked him to draw a mouse. Walt paid him to draw a mouse. He created a drawing of a mouse, not the concept. Iwerks still became famous to all of us that know anything about Disney. He achieved more with Walt then he ever would have done on his own. So perhaps it is time to stop worrying about what people did of their own free will and more about what they accomplished because of their association with him.
 

ThemeParkJunkee

Well-Known Member
You need an Eisner / Wells combo.

And Card Walker. And some would say Donn Tatum.
My answer as well. Walt and Roy could not have foreseen the multi-media Mega Corporation this became.

The first Eisner years with Wells were good for WDW. Without Wells, Eisner became...ummm...ineffective?
 

tigerlight

Well-Known Member
You talk about me not wanting to hear anyone else's opinion or changing my own opinion, what do you call what you are doing? None of the people that you are thinking were short changed had to stay with Walt, I don't think he held any prisoners. They stayed because he drove them to do things that they never would have done with out his wishes to react too. Iwerks, left and came back to Walt, more then once. He was not making it on his own, however, Walt recognized his immense talent and gave Iwerks a place to display that talent, Iwerks didn't have the personality to make something of himself to any degree higher then what he achieved. Walt asked him to draw a mouse. Walt paid him to draw a mouse. He created a drawing of a mouse, not the concept. Iwerks still became famous to all of us that know anything about Disney. He achieved more with Walt then he ever would have done on his own. So perhaps it is time to stop worrying about what people did of their own free will and more about what they accomplished because of their association with him.
Have you read ANY of the scholarly-researched NON Walt Disney Co. published biographies? What you are echoing is the official story from the Disney marketing department which has always had a clear agenda: Deified Walt = Massive Profits.
 
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Janir

Well-Known Member
I would qualify my Walt Disney answer that saying Walt needed Roy to enable him to do what he envisioned. Roy knew the business end and knew Walt. Roy also needed Walt's vision. It's the combination of the both of them that made it all work.
 

tigerlight

Well-Known Member
If Walt Disney were CEO I’d never have to leave Epcot again.
If the Epcot Walt envisioned (and lobbied the Florida legislature for) had been built, the entire operation would have very likely collapsed and Walt run out of it. It was a grand idea for sure, but there was no business case for what he proposed and it would have cost billions (maybe tens of billions in today's dollars). In terms of "designing WDW" - Walt didn't even design Disneyland (again - read the works of people who have researched this, interviewed guys that are now dead, etc.) but Walt's WDW was a castle park like DL + EPCOT (the city NOT the theme park) - which would have very likely been a disaster - the WDW that actually got built was only partly his idea, and vastly modified from his vision.
 
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tigerlight

Well-Known Member
I would qualify my Walt Disney answer that saying Walt needed Roy to enable him to do what he envisioned. Roy knew the business end and knew Walt. Roy also needed Walt's vision. It's the combination of the both of them that made it all work.
Actually, it was a combination of Walt, Roy, and dozens of others (only some of which were recruited by Walt, and even fewer were supervised by Walt) AND impeccably good timing/luck. That's the reality for a lot of the most successful business leaders whether it's Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, or Mark Zuckerburg... ideas are easy, but timing is hard and luck is a really big part of it.

Back to the topic at hand (which is an interesting one) in terms of who has been the best CEO... obviously, there'd be no Disney without Disney but that's like saying the best CEO at Ford was Henry Ford simply because his name is on the door. An appropriate analysis should include successes associated with the person's tenure, and by that measure Eisner or Iger, while not the sentimental or popular choice (especially among those who buy the corporate PR story of Walt), would win.
 
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Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
Have you read ANY of the scholarly-researched NON Walt Disney Co. published biographies? What you are echoing is the official story from the Disney marketing department which has always had a clear agenda: Deified Walt = Massive Profits.
I would bother to take the time to answer that question and all the other points you have made after this one, but it would be a waste of time. You appear to have no idea about how the world works and how come someone had to be the driving force in a singular creation. You are so bent on equal recognition that you cannot see that not everyone, especially paid help, can be deified or should be. The person that put everything on the line to make a dream happen, who had the dream gets to be given credit for it.

Let's assume that you created something that came to you and you acted on it to make it happen. You did that with the help of others, others that didn't put everything on the line and had a lot more to lose then a job. However, because they might have done a portion of the necessary work to make it happen. That was just you. Now you have to share credit with someone that emptied trash baskets in the office, because, you couldn't have made it work with full trash baskets.

I'm not sure why you are so convinced that I haven't read other thing besides Disney and who the hell has done any scholarly research on cartoons and theme parks. Every single thing written has some degree of bias toward their own opinion of a person or persons. You thoughts, although yours to have, are so far away for how the business world operates and even how responsibility is considered. I have never said that Walt was an angel, in fact I have said the opposite, however without some leadership nothing but a disorganized mess will result. If you dislike Walt as much as you seem, I am at a loss to understand why you are on a WDW discussion forum. You have a right to be here, but, why?

Maybe you could open a park entitled Walt, Roy 1 and Roy 2, Lilly Disney, Diane, Ron, Card, Iwerks and, every artist or imagineer that ever worked for the company, World or Land.
 

Pooh.sHoneyHuntTDL

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The biggest takeaway for me with this poll is how loved Michael Eisner was. That was unexpected. I thought Iger would easily beat him given all the Iger love here.

I also expected Walt to get around 90% of the vote but at 67% at one point that's not very high.
 

tigerlight

Well-Known Member
I would bother to take the time to answer that question and all the other points you have made after this one, but it would be a waste of time. You appear to have no idea about how the world works and how come someone had to be the driving force in a singular creation. You are so bent on equal recognition that you cannot see that not everyone, especially paid help, can be deified or should be. The person that put everything on the line to make a dream happen, who had the dream gets to be given credit for it.

Let's assume that you created something that came to you and you acted on it to make it happen. You did that with the help of others, others that didn't put everything on the line and had a lot more to lose then a job. However, because they might have done a portion of the necessary work to make it happen. That was just you. Now you have to share credit with someone that emptied trash baskets in the office, because, you couldn't have made it work with full trash baskets.

I'm not sure why you are so convinced that I haven't read other thing besides Disney and who the hell has done any scholarly research on cartoons and theme parks. Every single thing written has some degree of bias toward their own opinion of a person or persons. You thoughts, although yours to have, are so far away for how the business world operates and even how responsibility is considered. I have never said that Walt was an angel, in fact I have said the opposite, however without some leadership nothing but a disorganized mess will result. If you dislike Walt as much as you seem, I am at a loss to understand why you are on a WDW discussion forum. You have a right to be here, but, why?

Maybe you could open a park entitled Walt, Roy 1 and Roy 2, Lilly Disney, Diane, Ron, Card, Iwerks and, every artist or imagineer that ever worked for the company, World or Land.
You could have just said “no.” 😬
 
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