The four Disney execs who could succeed CEO Bob Iger as Keeper of the Magic Kingdom

 (Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
(Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Bob Iger has had a tough job at The Walt Disney Company during his 17-year term as CEO, leading the beloved and multi-billion dollar kingdom through a pandemic, scandals, the rise of online streaming, and more recently, his own successor.

A prince in not-so-shining armour, Bob Chapek was passed the mantle by Mr Iger in 2020, who quickly swooped back in less than three years later after a string of film flops and poor management costing the organisation millions of dollars.

Mr Iger plans to hand the crown over (this time permanently) in 2025, so he needs to make sure this next choice sticks.

And with hundreds of thousands of employees and billions of dollars at stake, speculation is already rife as to who he will name heir.

The potential successors have been narrowed down to just four contenders.

Dana Walden


Dana Walden has been tapped as the favourite of the land.

A force to be reckoned with, she has been co-chairman of Disney Entertainment since 2023, having joined Disney five years ago when it bought much of 21st Century Fox, which she was managing alongside Gary Newman at the time.

Before that, Ms Walden served as chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group, but currently the 59-year-old oversees numerous divisions of the company including Hulu Originals, Disney TV Studios, Disney Branded Television, ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Disney+ and Hulu.

If it isn't enough that she clearly has her fingers in a lot of expensive pies, Ms Walden has also been hailed as having a bloodhound-like nose for talent and potential in the television and film industry.

With a close relationship to Mr Iger, so close they are neighbours, Ms Walden is a tough act to follow.

Alan Bergman


But following he is, Alan Bergman is another Disney executive with his eyes on the throne.

A finance veteran, Mr Bergman is co-chairman of Disney Entertainment with Ms Walden with a head for numbers.

That being said, he has been praised for learning about film-making and production to a deep level, arriving at Disney in 2005 as president of Walt Disney Studios.

So much so that even director giant James Cameron, notorious for hating the politics of film-making, had a nice word to say about Mr Bergman after the pair worked together on Avatar: The Way of Water.

Vanity Fair reports that Mr Cameron said: "We emerged out of that process with a greater sense of respect for each other than I’ve personally ever felt before working with a studio."

This combined with his numbers know-how makes Mr Bergman, 58, a formidable foe against the equally capable and knowledgeable Ms Walden.

Jimmy Pitaro

 (Disney/Image Group LA/Getty)
(Disney/Image Group LA/Getty)

Jimmy Pitaro may be feeling a little less-than with his role as chairman of ESPN, dealing primarily with sports content, although his job does also mean supervising creative development, marketing, sales and distribution.

Mr Pitaro jumped to Disney from Head of Media at Yahoo, and has since worked in many corners of the company.

Now 54-years-old, he is reportedly well-liked, but does he have his hands full with steering the ESPN streaming service?

He may be well-liked within the company, and have significant experience streaming, but he has not been tested in the Hollywood side of the business in the same way as the other candidates on the list.

Plus, with Mr Iger's recent moving away from Disney+ streaming and towards more traditional feature film production, perhaps passing the magical baton to a streaming pro would not make the most sense.

Josh D’Amaro

 (The Walt Disney Company/Getty)
(The Walt Disney Company/Getty)

At face value, final contender Josh D'Amaro could also be seen as a questionable choice for the highly coveted CEO position.

As chairman of Disney Experiences since 2020, the 53-year-old Mr D'Amaro is responsible for managing attractions, cruise ships, merchandise, and retail of the big six Disney theme parks: California, Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

It might be a bit niche, but Mr Iger's recent injection of nearly $30 billion into Disney's parks and cruise lines spending shows that this might be the route he wants to take.

It is absolutely worth noting that the only aspect of The Walt Disney Company that did not suffer during last-year's SAG-AFTRA strikes were in fact entertainment experiences, which explains why Mr Iger was tens-of-billions-of-dollars keen to expand parks and cruise lines.

So the race is on, whose head will the crown rest upon?

Mr Iger still needs to look into the magic mirror to decide who is the fairest of the land.