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My lunch with Disney CEO Bob Chapek

by Matt Roseboom

“Attractions Magazine” was one of a few Disney fan media companies selected to have a private meeting with Disney CEO Bob Chapek during the D23 Expo 2022. Although Bob’s comments were “off the record,” here are my impressions.

Attractions Magazine Editor & Publisher Matt Roseboom, left, and The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek.
Photo by Jeffrey Epstein.

After the D23 Expo Disney Parks, Experiences and Products presentation, we were taken by van to Disneyland for lunch, followed by a surprise special guest. Our lunch was in the exclusive 21 Royal suite. Although it wasn’t built in Walt’s time, the suite was envisioned by Walt and his wife Lillian to be a family space for them to host celebrities and dignitaries. Now it’s an exclusive spot for private dinner experiences anyone can book at 21royaldisneyland.com.

21 Royal
21 Royal is discreetly located above Royal Street in New Orleans Square (upstairs from Pirates of the Caribbean).
Photo by Disney.
The view from the dining room of 21 Royal.
Photo by Matt Roseboom

We had a wonderful lunch, with salad, appetizer, an entree, and desert, served by very friendly and professional cast members. After lunch, our special guest, Bob Chapek, arrived. I think most of us were expecting it to be him. He sat at one end of the table, and was fully open to all of our questions. Nothing was held back, and even though his comments were off the record, he didn’t really say anything that needed to be. He talked about some of the controversial issues both he and Disney have been a part of recently. He was very personable, down-to-Earth, and gave reasonable, common sense answers to all our questions.

After about 15 minutes, we all headed back into a van to ride backstage to Toontown, where we were able to get a construction tour of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Even though some of the cast members with us assumed Bob would ride separately from us around the park, Bob hopped into the back of our van and continued to answer our questions and chat with us throughout the whole ride and tour. 

As for Runaway Railway, it looks great. We were able to walk through the queue and walk the full ride path. The queue is completely different from the attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Although we weren’t allowed to take any photos or videos, It looked very much like the concept art below. It’s a museum of past Mickey shorts, shows, and movies, separated by the decades. I can’t give details, but there are some cool illusions and Easter eggs to look for. 

runaway railway
This part of the Runaway Railway queue at Disneyland highlights “props” from some of the earlier Mickey Mouse shorts, shows, and movies.
Concept art by Disney

The ride wasn’t fully programmed yet, but they walked us through the full ride and ran all the scenes. It’s 95 percent the same as in Orlando. Although the changes in the queue were done on purpose, the changes to the ride were done out of necessity of the space. All the scenes are there, but a couple are rearranged, and some extended a bit. 

runaway railway queue
The ’80s era of Mickey Mouse is represented in this part of the Runaway Railway queue.
Concept art by Disney

We were told the lunch, its location, and our backstage tour was all Bob’s idea. So thanks to Mr. Chapek. I appreciate him taking the time to get to know some of the people who not only run Disney’s biggest fan sites, but who are also its biggest fans.

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10 comments

James Farnsworth September 18, 2022 - 5:22 pm

The only thing I want to hear from Bob Is “I’ve been fired”

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Andrew September 18, 2022 - 7:16 pm

If the answers are so reasonable and common sense, they wouldn’t be off the record. In fact the only proof such a meeting took place was a single photo with him, so then what was the whole point of him meeting with media? To give you guys a clickbait headline? This doesn’t make him any less likable which is his whole problem.

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Brian Mosgo September 18, 2022 - 8:42 pm

This is probably the most useless article I’ve ever wasted my time reading.

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Tiger September 19, 2022 - 4:32 am

Look I’m not going to be as snarky as the others but this does come off as over indulgent PR fluff. Yeah what is the point of meeting him to ask questions if you can’t publish the answers??? It’s so bizarre.

He might as well just shook hands and talked about the ride. At least we know it’s mostly the same ride (which is fine). Disney is going through a bad PR phase right now but A. It’s not the first time and B. the parks and hotels are still selling out so for most people none of this matters much. But CHAPEK isn’t going to win over any die hards with stunts like this.

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Jeremy September 19, 2022 - 4:59 am

This article is as dumb as the CEO himself.

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B September 19, 2022 - 10:48 am

So he made you feel special so all the bad decisions and lies get a pass. His plan worked well done!

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Jeff P. September 19, 2022 - 1:45 pm

I enjoy the haters who don’t understand that if you play the game, you get access and a long term relationship that gives you access to the things the haters actually want to see. Someday they’ll get that it’s a business.

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Francis September 19, 2022 - 2:54 pm

I couldn’t agree anymore with above comments. Evil EMPREOR Chapek sure has strong powers. When someone says “OFF the Record” they don’t want to be held accountable and/or have anybody follow up and challenge their answers, it’s just like when someone says, “No Comment”, they’re hiding something. I sure would like to know if the question was asked and his sensible, reasonable & common sense answer to the question, Why is he slowly eliminating the average family in making a trip to Disney World so unaffordable & and preventing them to have the same perks as the rich? Follow up to that would be why is it that this Christmas will be the first time in years that Hollywood Studios will have extended hours during that season but only if you stay at Deluxe Resort so all the little people, who stayed at moderate and value resorts will not have that perk only the people who have money. Actions speak louder than words, that would be another follow-up question I would have for him; sure would like to know what the sensible, reasonable & common sense answer to that is but again it’s “Off the Record” so we will never know. Those actions are signs of the future turning Disney World into EXCLUSIVE Resort for the rich. I wonder if a questions was asked why is he charging these families extra to ride rides when they pay already an extreme amount of money to stay at the resorts and pay the admission fee apparently he has no clue what it cost a family of four. This is not why Walt Disney built these parks, it was for families to get together not for the rich to embellish

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Samantha September 19, 2022 - 5:20 pm

I liked this post. I have seen much much worst things posted. I do not think it was click bait. I wonder who else got to have this awesome lunch? I am jealous! I wish I could have been there!

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Tom T September 20, 2022 - 10:01 pm

It’s obvious that this whole meeting was a PR tactic to get publications like yours on his side. Obviously this tactic worked on you. The Disney company feels you are less likely to report unbiased but negative reviews about the company if they spend a few bucks on you and take you to dinner.
Such a shame that you fell for it. Don’t know if I’ll be able to trust what you print in the future.

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