Disney's Bob Iger says he'll step down in 2021 — maybe

Sure, we have been here before, but it appears The Walt Disney Co.'s CEO Bob Iger really actually will step down in the coming years — like really really.

The head honcho of the Burbank, California-based media giant, which owns and operates Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, announced on April 11 to investors that he officially will end his 14-years-and-counting tenure in 2021, said CNBC.

Here's more from Iger, via the report:

“I’m expecting my contract to expire at the end of 2021,” Iger said Thursday during Disney’s investor day presentations. “And I was going to say ‘and this time I mean it,’ but I’ve said it before. I’ve been CEO since October of 2005 and as I’ve said many times, there’s a time for everything and 2021 will be the time for me to finally step down. I’ve been engaged with the board for quite some time and there’s discussion about a succession and they’ve been engaged in a succession process. And we continue to feel that they will be able to identify my successor on a timely enough basis so this company has a smooth transition.”

This follows two extensions to his 2005 contract, which originally was set to end in 2018. He extended his contract the first time through 2019 and then again through 2021.

To many investors and analysts, Iger's extensions haven't been unwelcome, as he has revolutionized the Disney company during his tenure.

Most recently, he secured the $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets that include Fox's platforms and a slew of properties and TV assets like "The Simpsons" and film properties like "Avatar" and "X-Men."

In addition, the company is working on a new streaming service, Disney+, that will launch in November with a myriad products from Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and Disney classics.

Further, Iger was instrumental in deals that revolutionized Disney's portfolio. Here are some of the acquisitions he helped close:

  • Pixar, the studio behind films like "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo" and "Cars," for $7.4 billion in 2006
  • Marvel Entertainment, the entity with characters like Iron Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, for $4 billion in 2009
  • Lucasfilm, the studios behind the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series, for $4.06 billion in 2012

He's also been there for a series of theme park additions such as the new Fantasyland expansion at Orlando's Magic Kingdom theme park (opened in phases starting in 2012), Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park (2017), Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park (2018), and the future new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land at Hollywood Studios opening this August.

The next step will be for Disney to find Iger's successor. Disney hasn't named any candidates yet, but this is something many experts, analysts and shareholders will watch closely.

Disney’s Orlando theme parks — Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios — welcomed nearly 56 million guests through their turnstiles in 2017, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the region’s tourism market share.

Disney also owns two area water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, as well as several themed hotels, golf courses, a camping resort, timeshare properties, a residential community called Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort, ESPN Wide World of Sports and the Disney Springs retail, dining and entertainment complex.

Orlando's $70 billion tourism industry welcomes 72 million annual visitors to the region.