Thursday, March 08, 2007

An Update

Back in January, I detoured from my usual discussion of EPCOT Center to reflect on The Walt Disney Company's horrible decision to move the annual shareholder's meeting to New Orleans.

Many of you commented (both publicly and, even more so, personally by e-mail) that this move really should be taken at face value as Disney's efforts to bring attention and business to the New Orleans area, ravaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.

The Associated Press reports today that this year's Walt Disney Company Annual Meeting of Shareholders was attended by ... 400 people.

Now, bear in mind that last year in Anaheim, Disney attracted (according to the AP) "several thousand" shareholders. Sure, it's true that Disney "webcast" this year's shareholder's meeting, but since there was no opportunity for interaction, the result wasn't much different than reading a transcript of the proceedings.

Could it be that the miniscule attendance in New Orleans is exactly what Disney wanted? What, then, are they running away from?

Could it be that they don't want to discuss the downsizing, outsourcing and selling-off of the theme parks? That they really don't care to get into a conversation about ABC's dramatically plummeting ratings? Could they be a little embarrassed by Bob Iger's $15-million payday?
Or is it, simply, that they are finally letting the "little guy" know that we really, frankly, don't matter? Sure, they want tens of thousands from each of us for a Disney Vacation Club "membership," and have put a sales kiosk everywhere (including EPCOT's Future World, above) but your resort toilet. But what about those who invest the same amount in shares of the company then expect an opportunity to voice an opinion about how the company is being run? Well, you're just plain out of luck.

Sorry to digress from the EPCOT discussion -- just thought it might be worth following up on my original post.


Anonymous said...

I agree completely that they seem to be running away from their shareholders, while choosing New Orleans to avoid criticism. It strikes me as very crass.

By the way, Screamscape had a link to this video up a while ago:

Its a video from 1990 about what's ahead for Walt Disney World. I found it very interesting to see a running theme with what actually got built and what did not.

Anonymous said...

As a shareholder in the Walt Disney Company they have been doing this for years. Years ago it used to be held at the Disneyland Hotel and as you exited the meeting you were given a ticket to the park for that day.
As with other stocks I own, shareholder meetings are usually are held in the city of their corporate headquarters. This means the Disney shareholder meeting should be held in Burbank, CA.

Anonymous said...

First of all, that picture is the ugliest Kiosk I have ever seen!! It's absolutely horrible; not to mention the crass marketing of timeshares. I really do hope it gets torn down soon.

As for the annual meeting, I have read over the recent news on it and the press seems to have gobbled up the story of Disney trying to bring some relief to New Orleans by granting the place their presence. For all the money Disney spent to move their dog and pony show to Louisiana, I'm sure the residents there would have just as much appreciated Disney staying home and sending the cash instead. Considering the lax turnout, I'm sure the money would have been much more useful.

Epcot82 said...

I read another blogpost that said there were fewer than 200 people there (from an attendee), and there were 30-50 Disney execs. Let's say that's true. Hm. Given Iger and Staggs's private plane, business-class round-trip tickets for the lower-level execs, hotel rooms (including suites for the top execs), the technical needs, the costumed characters ... I'd guess Disney probably spent about $300,000 on that meeting. That means they spent somewhere in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 per person who attended.

Why, to me, does that seem like a flagrant waste of my company's funds? They can't spend that sort of money on paying cast members at WDW more, or sprucing up older attractions ... but they can spend it on a lavish meeting for 300 people?

It's all about perception ...