A Disneyland Pass Was the Catalyst for Shonda Rhimes’ Decision to Leave ABC

After a 15-year relationship with ABC, showrunner Shonda Rhimes left the network for a nine-figure deal with Netflix.

©The Hollywood Reporter/Kwaku Alston

Rhimes is the creator and executive producer of major ABC television hits including Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. But according to Rhimes, she had begun to feel creatively stifled at the company leading up to her decision to leave.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rhimes said she felt a constant push and pull over budgets, content, and advertising at ABC. Despite generating more than $2 billion for ABC, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company, Rhimes was growing restless and sensed that a breaking point was coming.

Grey’s Anatomy ©ABC

But Rhimes admits she was surprised by what the last straw turned out to be — a Disneyland pass. As part of her compensation package, Rhimes received all-inclusive Disneyland passes for herself and her nanny, so she could bring Rhimes’ children to the park. One day, Rhimes requested a pass for her sister, who would be accompanying the children to the park — the passes were not interchangeable, so Rhimes was unable to give her sister her own pass.


Rhimes reports that there was a considerable amount of back and forth with the company, and she was told, “We never do this,” more than once before they ultimately agreed to issue another pass for her sister. But when the group arrived at the gates of Disneyland, only one of the passes worked.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland ©Disney

Rhimes said she called a high-ranking executive at the company to try to sort out the situation, to which the executive allegedly replied, “Don’t you have enough?” Rhimes hung up the phone and immediately contacted her lawyer, instructing them to find a way to get her over to Netflix or she would find new representation. And in August 2017, it became official — Shonda Rhimes left her long-time network of ABC for a nine-figure overall deal at Netflix.

Now, more than three years after the deal was signed, Rhimes will soon release her first project for the streaming service — a documentary about director, choreographer, and philanthropist Debbie Allen which will drop on November 27th.

Do you watch any of the television shows created by Shonda Rhimes? Let us know which ones in the comments!

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6 Replies to “A Disneyland Pass Was the Catalyst for Shonda Rhimes’ Decision to Leave ABC”

  1. I love her work. But this is ridiculous to me. Like why couldn’t she just pay for a day pass for her sister? Its not like she doesn’t make millions. Stinks she felt like she needed to leave over that but it seems like she was just looking for an excuse.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Rhimes!

    First off Disney for many many years have been overcharging everyone who enters their parks. Most times the parks needs to be cleaned better and painted. Where does all that money go? Seldom do you hear Disney giving to unknown charities and people who are in poverty any discounts so children of all income levels can go and experience Disney. My family has been blessed we are able to buy annual passes.

    I still think Disney is extremely overpriced.

    As for Ms. Rhimes making the decision to drop greedy Disney corporation I would do the exact thing in her position. I say Kudos to Shonda for not being manipulate by the greedy Disney executives who make billions for parks and stations.

    I think more people should take this stance and say No More enough is enough!

    The price of having to pay extra for a ticket isn’t the issue the issue is why is Disney always trying to get more money from everyone rich or poor.

    Disney is enjoyable nothing against that but how much more money are they going to continue to milk from everyone or break promises. This unfortunately happens a lot Ms. Shonda Rhimes is the only brave one to bring it up and is acting on it by switching.

    Ms. Rhimes so proud of you! Wish others would follow in your steps.

  3. I normally don’t comment on things like this but when you’re making over ten million dollars a year and you’re arguing about a Disneyland annual pass that costs around 700 dollars you have lost your way a little bit.