“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.