Disney World: A CEO firing, a new coaster and more happened in 2022
Disneyland gets a firm reopening date.

Disney debuted a new roller coaster in 2022, and the company often felt like it was on one during an eventful year.

In the history books, Disney’s 2022 will be remembered for a political fiasco in Florida and the behind-the-scenes boardroom drama that ousted CEO Bob Chapek and reinstated Bob Iger back in a shocking reversal.

The year also brought joy for fans at Disney World as new attractions opened up and some old favorites returned.

Here’s a look back at what happened over the past year at the Most Magical Place on Earth.

Dominating the headlines in 2022 was the Disney backlash over Florida’s controversial “Parental Rights in Education” law, which stops public school teachers from teaching sexual orientation or gender identity in grades kindergarten through third grade. The measure was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics.

Disney didn’t loudly condemn it, angering many of the company’s employees and progressives. When then CEO Chapek finally came out publicly against it, he drew the ire of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s Republicans who voted to strip Disney of its self-taxing government structure that provides roads, emergency services and other needs for the giant Walt Disney World Resort property.

By the end of the year, however, the fight over the Reedy Creek Improvement District appears to have died down in Tallahassee, according to media reports that said Disney’s government is not expected to be permanently dissolved.

In November, Disney shocked its fans, employees and Wall Street with an abrupt announcement: Chapek was fired. Returning to lead the company was Iger, who previously led Disney before Chapek took over in 2020. Media reports cited a bad financial earnings report, low company morale and the Reedy Creek fiasco as some of the reasons why company board leaders likely took action.

It’s unclear what Iger’s second tenure will hold for Disney stock prices; Disney+, which took a $1.5 billion operating loss in the latest fiscal quarter; or the theme parks, where fans regularly complain about rising prices and complications to visit, including the reservation system.

For Disney’s new attractions in 2022, perhaps the most anticipated — and most unique — was the opening of the Star Wars-themed hotel. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, billed as a cruise-like two-night experience, debuted in Hollywood Studios in March. The hotel stay, which critics say is for elite Disney fans only, has won rave views for giving visitors a truly immersive experience.

One new Disney World must-do was free: Getting a hug from Mickey Mouse. For the first time since the pandemic, Disney World allowed characters to interact up close with guests again starting in the spring of 2022.

Just in time for Memorial Day holiday weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind debuted in Epcot. The indoor, twisting roller coaster has a love-it-or-hate-it reputation, depending on how your stomach feels afterward. 

Josh D’Amaro, who leads Disney’s theme parks, made an announcement during September’s D23 about potential projects that could someday be built “beyond Big Thunder Mountain” at the Magic Kingdom. He teased a villains’ theme or characters from Disney’s animated hits “Coco” and “Encanto” — although skeptics noted D’Amaro was vague on firm timelines and actually committing to what was coming next.

Disney-goers lined up to see the return of Fantasmic, the popular nighttime show at Hollywood Studios that returned in November with a new sequence.

Just in time for the holidays, the Walt Disney World Railroad began chugging again at the Magic Kingdom. The train, which was an original 1971 opening day attraction, had been closed for four years during Tron’s construction.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Ronald Crump

    December 28, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    “OK Ron we got a new CEO and reopened the train track can you please stop spanking us now”?

  • James R. Miles

    December 29, 2022 at 11:58 am

    Thanks to DeSatan. I wish Disney would relocate outside of Floriduh and take all of the related tourists and tourist businesses with them!

Comments are closed.


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