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Did Michael Eisner SAVE Disney?

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  • Did Michael Eisner SAVE Disney?

    Forgive me if this has been covered in a previous thread, but having watched the Disney+ documentary, and in the middle of the downturn I have a different perspective than before. This forum kind of has a lot of anger towards Eisner, but do you think Disney would have (or hopefully will) survive this epidemic without all his diversification and expansion of the IP and company? As much as some of his choices seem to suck, they really did help keep the company in a good position to weather this storm.

    As much as we get angry at creative aspects of the park being compromised for business purposes (and I am in the creative camp as part of my career and in life in general so I am not disagreeing completely) — Without it there would be no parks (Or as said in The Right Stuff, “No bucks, no Buck Rogers”. )

    So I guess in a way we should thank Eisner? Yes, we have too many movie themes and whatnot in the park, but at least there is a park? Imagine if they had to get bought out by some garbage company and the parks were turned into a factory outlet version of itself, or into what Chuck E Cheese is now vs what it was in the 80s. (40somethings will understand this. ChuckECheese was essentially like a kid’s Dave and Busters, but the games were actually new then and it was like the ultimate arcade with animatronic shows on a big stage. Now its just some Skiball, air hockey and like one 90s era video game. Its basically a boys club with a couple semi fun games.)...

    Anyway, just some thoughts. Rambling on the internet thought I would see what the experts think.

  • #2
    I'm a long way from an expert but near as I can tell, when Eisner and Frank Wells first came on board, they made a pretty good team.

    Then Frank was killed in a helicopter crash and with only Eisner in control, things went downhill fast.

    So yes, he may have saved DL but in the end, I think he did more harm than good.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by micromind View Post
      I'm a long way from an expert but near as I can tell, when Eisner and Frank Wells first came on board, they made a pretty good team.

      Then Frank was killed in a helicopter crash and with only Eisner in control, things went downhill fast.

      So yes, he may have saved DL but in the end, I think he did more harm than good.
      I AGREE........
      after Frank Wells passing,
      Eisner took the wrong turn on the road.................
      and Disney has not been the same since !
      Soaring like an EAGLE !

      Comment


      • #4
        Just what we need, mixing Eisner and Covid in one thread. Ha ha

        Obviously this is a tricky subject around here.

        I think that you’re right that the size of the company is helping it weather this storm. If Covid had happened in 1980, I’m almost certain it would have bankrupted the company and the park would be the property of some other company, if it still existed at all.

        The debate may be about whether or not that would have been better for the park. I’m of the belief that the park has grown mostly well over the decades and I’m content with what we have today (minus Covid). I also think that keeping the Walt Disney Company intact has kept Walt in the picture. Without the company, I fear Walt would have been swept under the carpet to be replaced by the patriarch of whatever company acquired the assets.

        So yes, overall, I’m content with what got us here, even with the bumps In the road that have happened along the way.
        Mike_M

        Disneyland Trips
        Walt Disney World
        Disneyland Paris

        1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
        1990, 1992, 1993

        2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
        2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
        2020

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        • #5
          All I'll say is that there are old-timers who were on the lot before, during, and after the transition who still get a little teary at the loss of Frank; and who still throw up a little in their mouths at the amount of credit Michael got, and still gets, for what Frank and Jeffrey brought to the table.
          "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
          it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
          together with every variety of recreation and fun,
          designed to appeal to everyone."

          - Walt Disney

          "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
          - Michael Eisner

          "It's very symbiotic."
          - Bob Chapek

          Comment


          • #6
            Eisner lived long enough to see himself become the villain, basically...
            Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

            Comment


            • #7
              In my opinion, Eisner helped and hurt the company. He led the company to success and did have some creativity. But he also made multiple risky decisions, he heavily milked ALL franchise (both good and bad) and got arogant over his ideas. I think the suggested notion is that, Eisner came up with the ideas, while Wells acted as the filter, with Wells picking the best ideas.

              Basically, if he was in charge today, there would be less remakes and more films that ventured into WTF-were-they-thinking ideas. He would of opened more parks domestically and internationally(Dubai, India, and maybe Texas?) and Frozen V would already be out by now, with VI scheduled for next year.

              Comment


              • #8
                I’m no business person either, but it’s amazing to me how close these huge companies want the public to believe their teetering on implosion. Take the Lakers...it was news in June that they couldn’t pay their staff!? After a few months of inactivities, this franchise valued at like $10B can’t cut checks?! I can’t even believe this is the view the general public has for these companies whose owners have so much money they can’t spend it in a hundred lifetimes. A billionaire can’t pay the gal selling hotdogs. Right... The corporation is a person! Ha!

                Didn’t Walt go belly up like six times before Disneyland? If we’re taking about the park, any logical business plan would assess costs vs rev.. and an open Disneyland should always be a money maker given the cost to operate it. So Eisner diversified. His footprint on the park is what it is. But without his existence or anyone for that matter besides Roy and W.E.D., the park should have always been open and profitable based on what they could offer post the invention of Mickey Mouse. Forced to sell it to a conglomerate — nah. That would’ve been a choice; not a fate.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Thumperrrrr View Post
                  . But without his existence or anyone for that matter besides Roy and W.E.D., the park should have always been open and profitable based on what they could offer post the invention of Mickey Mouse. Forced to sell it to a conglomerate — nah. That would’ve been a choice; not a fate.
                  Not necessarily. The era after Walt/Roy (1971-1984) , is openly considered a bad time for the company. And keep in mind this is before Eisner/Wells.

                  The rotten cherry on top of all this, is that a hostile takeover nearly occurred. Disney wound up paying off Saul Steinberg, (who was behind the takeover attempt) to prevent the takeover from happening.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Spongeocto4 View Post

                    Not necessarily. The era after Walt/Roy (1971-1984) , is openly considered a bad time for the company. And keep in mind this is before Eisner/Wells.

                    The rotten cherry on top of all this, is that a hostile takeover nearly occurred. Disney wound up paying off Saul Steinberg, (who was behind the takeover attempt) to prevent the takeover from happening.
                    Good point you making

                    about Saul Steinberg try to takeover Walt Disney Production attempt =1984
                    and it was Roy Disney Jr.-1st Save Disney with the help of Sid Bass -family purchase of 18.7 percent of Disney.
                    That How Eisner/Wells came into the picture of running Disney !

                    But IMO
                    I still feel -when Eisner/Wells on board - it started out with team work
                    But after Frank Wells passing (killed in a helicopter crash)
                    Eisner went off the wrong Road !
                    Last edited by Eagleman; 08-22-2020, 08:48 PM.
                    Soaring like an EAGLE !

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm of the opinion that history will ultimately be much kinder to Michael Eisner than the current view of him. I'm actually in the process of writing a podcast episode about this. It is my contention that every creative entertainment company needs both a Walt and a Roy. There needs to be that balance. When Eisner was CEO he was essentially in the Walt position. Frank Wells was his Roy and there was balance. They were a good team. When Wells died that balance was gone.

                      I also believe that for all his flaws Eisner's diversification of the Walt Disney Company put it into a position to weather the financial storms it is now facing. Yeah, it's rough right now for Disney and they are bleeding money in so many areas, but had Eisner not built out the company the way he had I think Disney would have gone under by now due to the COVID economic situation.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Eisner and Wells saved Disney. Disney was on the verge of being taken over, divided up and sold off. I'd take Eisner and Wells a millions times again and again over what was about to happen to the company before they joined Disney. Not to mention who has been running Disney the last 15 years and currently now.

                        Eisner definitely made mistakes towards the end of his tenure and had worn out his welcome by the end. But I think it's pretty obvious he and Wells were both a good thing for Disney overall in that 1984-1994 era of the company.

                        I didn't always agree with everything Eisner did, he was by no means perfect and had some bad decisions. But I'd be lying if I tried to disregard what he did for Disney and claim he didn't help save them either.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think you see that often, not just at Disney, a great two-person team is in charge and things are great, they balance each other out. But for whatever reason, (death, ego, arrogance etc) when one tries to do things on their own, it tanks.
                          "What single word is the name of a magazine, a cereal, a board game, and a never-ending series of soul-crushing disappointments which slowly leech away your hope and idealism until you are nothing more than a bitter husk of a man?"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Crazybirdman View Post
                            I think you see that often, not just at Disney, a great two-person team is in charge and things are great, they balance each other out. But for whatever reason, (death, ego, arrogance etc) when one tries to do things on their own, it tanks.
                            I think this has some truth to it. In the case of Eisner and Wells, I believe Wells was Eisner's "conscience" on matters of "Walt's way".

                            Wells was born in 1932, compared to Eisner in 1942. Even though 10 years doesn't seem like much, compared to the experiences within that 10 year span - and during that particular time in history - is great. Wells I would imagine had a vastly different perspective on matters of traditions, sacrifice, and life in general. So I think Eisner could be considered Wells' padawan. Unfortunately, with the passing of Frank, Eisner - with no guidance - went to the "dark side".
                            Last edited by stovk; 08-24-2020, 12:36 AM.
                            “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them
                            so many years of our own lives.”


                            DL Trips: '58, '59, '61, '65, '66, '67, '68x2, '69x2, '70x2, '71x2, '73x2, '74x2, '75x2, '76x2, '77, '78,x2, '79x2, '80x2, '81, '82, '83, '88, '89x3, '90x2, '91, '93, '94, '95x2, '96, '97, '98x4, '99, '00, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07x2, '08, '09x2, '10, '11, '13
                            WDW Trips: '81
                            EPCOT Trips: '93
                            Tokyo DL Trips: '86

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It's not just what Michael did. It's who he hired.

                              And who he promoted.
                              "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
                              it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
                              together with every variety of recreation and fun,
                              designed to appeal to everyone."

                              - Walt Disney

                              "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
                              - Michael Eisner

                              "It's very symbiotic."
                              - Bob Chapek

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                                It's not just what Michael did. It's who he hired.

                                And who he promoted.
                                and couple of them
                                took out , lots of PARK BENCH's out of the Parks...................
                                Soaring like an EAGLE !

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by brian11811 View Post
                                  Forgive me if this has been covered in a previous thread, but having watched the Disney+ documentary, and in the middle of the downturn I have a different perspective than before. This forum kind of has a lot of anger towards Eisner, but do you think Disney would have (or hopefully will) survive this epidemic without all his diversification and expansion of the IP and company? As much as some of his choices seem to suck, they really did help keep the company in a good position to weather this storm.
                                  It's a pyrrhic victory. Eisner may have saved the Disney brand, but he destroyed the Disney idea.

                                  Disney today is Disney in name only.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Lighthope View Post

                                    It's a pyrrhic victory. Eisner may have saved the Disney brand, but he destroyed the Disney idea.

                                    Disney today is Disney in name only.
                                    I don’t disagree with this at all, but what I’ve wondered is whether or not it is even possible to have retained a pure model of the company past Walt’s death where the same priorities, style and character exists, and is profitable enough to survive not only this pandemic, but the modern entertainment industry as a whole.

                                    When a company is tied so intimately to a single person’s vision, any change where that person is no longer holding the reigns is going to be different, and in most cases I would argue ‘vastly’ different. In the end, there was only one Walt Disney and anything since has been an imitation at best. There is a reason ‘What would Walt do?’ is still in the minds of so many; he has never been replaced, only succeeded.

                                    So while yes, the company is not what it was when Walt was alive, it’s my belief that what we have is as close as possible to a realistic best case scenario. The park Walt built is still here, and much of it is as it was when he was alive. It’s not perfect. There is much that can improve. But in the end, I believe that most of the realistic alternatives to Eisner, and his impact on the company, would have ended up worse.
                                    Last edited by Mike_M; 08-25-2020, 01:07 PM.
                                    Mike_M

                                    Disneyland Trips
                                    Walt Disney World
                                    Disneyland Paris

                                    1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                                    1990, 1992, 1993

                                    2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                                    2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                                    2020

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Lighthope View Post

                                      It's a pyrrhic victory. Eisner may have saved the Disney brand, but he destroyed the Disney idea.

                                      Disney today is Disney in name only.
                                      That a BINGO........
                                      Soaring like an EAGLE !

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        It didn't take a genius to "save" Disney. The management at the time was lazy and incompetent. That fact is the reason Roy E. Disney led a team of investors to take control of the Board and to remove that administration in the first place.

                                        The priceless assets and the impressive organization were mostly intact. They just needed moderately-competent executives running the operation, and Frank Wells certainly was one of them. He was offered the C.E.O. position and voluntarily took the President and C.O.O. positions, instead, so Eisner, as horrible as he was, was forever indebted to Wells.

                                        As soon as Wells died, Disney started going to hell.

                                        Comment

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