As the sun beat down on the bustling Burbank studio lot last October, Disney CEO Bob Iger added a touch of magic to the Halloween costume contest, even amidst a challenging year in the enchanted kingdom. A trove of colorful characters—including a George Lucas look-alike and a jovial Mary Poppins—paraded before Iger and his team, evoking smiles and laughter. Yet, the vibrant festivities hid an underlying tension sparked by Iger’s return, layoffs, and the shift back to office practices. A particularly striking image of Iger, bearing a sinister caption inspired by *The Shining*, underscored the employees’ frustration with the tumultuous transitions.

Iger’s unexpected 2022 comeback was a bid to stabilize Disney after setbacks under his successor, Bob Chapek. Confronted with the imperative to cut costs, Iger orchestrated significant layoffs, while Wall Street clamored for the profitability of Disney+. The rapidly evolving entertainment landscape, compounded by actor and writer strikes and billionaire activist Nelson Peltz’s head-on challenge, emboldened Iger’s resolve to amend the Kingdom’s missteps. As his contract is set to wrap by 2026, speculations about Disney’s next heir have become the talk of the town.

The Disney board, now peppered with seasoned handoff experts, has earmarked 2025 for the crucial succession announcement, leaving key internal candidates in a delicate position. Among the names surfacing as potential royal successors are Dana Walden, Alan Bergman, ESPN’s Jimmy Pitaro, and Disney Experiences chief Josh D’Amaro. Walden, a skillful television executive, has impressed many in Hollywood, while D’Amaro, a charismatic leader from the parks division, presents a strong case with his people-centric approach and dedication. Although Pitaro and Bergman have their strengths, they face a unique set of challenges as they vie for the Magic Kingdom’s top job.

The world might seem fixated on the royal rivalries of *Succession*, but Disney’s saga, from the Eisner-Iger transition to the current succession hustle, stands equally riveting. The internal competition among Disney’s brightest leaders echoes the competitive spirit of the original films they help create. Iger’s own ascent from a weatherman to Disney’s CEO illustrates that even fairy tales require strategic planning and perseverance. His past choices, most notably the contentious pick of Chapek, serve as cautionary tales for the board’s forthcoming decision.

As the succession drama unfolds, fans and critics alike are watching closely. Who will navigate Disney’s many-tentacled empire, safeguard its storied legacy, and lead its 225,000-strong workforce into a future laden with technological advances and industry upheavals? The board’s monumental decision will shape not only Disney’s fate but possibly set the tone for the entire entertainment industry.

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