Opinion: Disney’s California Conundrum

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The Disney Company is facing significant hurdles for reopening Disneyland Resort, and the burdens are beginning to incur significant costs.

This past week, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida made a declaration and change of course for the Sunshine State so that theme parks can return to more semi-normal operations. Limited social distancing guidelines were still recommended, but the message was clear: Florida’s theme parks can return to profitable processes. Indeed, Disney has taken notice of increasing demand over the past month or so, even increasing hours for their parks in the holiday season.

But don’t expect Disney to loosen their park protocols anytime soon. More is at stake than Walt Disney World guest health.

You might have heard about Disney’s recent virtual presentation featuring more high level execs within Disney Parks than you can shake a stick at. It was not by any means a cheap thing to pull off, with high paid individuals giving multiple speeches. Many believe it was aimed at the governor of California, essentially having Disney beg for the reopen. This author believes it was aimed at the public of California… an attempt to provide political cover to the governor for allowing the company to reopen the original Disney park.

It was also this same week that Disney suddenly added a fifth key to their four keys they adhere to within their company. The new key? Inclusion.

Now we’re unsure exactly who Disney had been excluding previously, but clearly they’re going to make sure they include people now. At least, that’s the big gimmick they’ve cooked up. If you’re holding your breath for Disney to include individuals of low socioeconomic status in their Disney Parks… well, you’re going to be holding your breath for a real long time. So, besides people in the lower class, Disney is now going to be inclusive. What does that actually mean? Who knows, it doesn’t matter, don’t ask that question.

Of course, you’ll also recall that Disney is no longer playing Zip-a-dee-doo-dah at Disneyland Resort. Their Disney spokesperson defied all the odds and declared publicly that they, in fact, were fully behind the removal of the song as a company. Why was this classic song originally sung by the first Oscar award winning African American struck from the theme park playlist? Well, it’s neither relevant nor inclusive anymore. That’s according to Disney. The same company still playing it every day in Orlando for guests who love it and the attraction to which it is integral.

Oh, and it’s breaking news today that Disney is getting rid of a 32 year old beloved musical group called the Grand Floridian Orchestral Society. It’s a harbinger of more cuts to come over the next months as the company trims everywhere they can. Their film business is in shambles, their sports programing is seeing record-dropping low numbers. Even if a vaccine comes out tomorrow for COVID-19, it’s not likely the cruise industry will suddenly pop back up to profitability any time soon.

The best thing Disney has in the way of keeping any semblance of revenue presently is Walt Disney World Resort. Yet they’re preparing to cut entertainers, cast members, and refusing to follow the advice of the Florida government to admit slightly more paying guests. Have you figured out the likely reason yet?

Disneyland.

Basically everything you’ve read in this article thus far makes absolutely no businesses sense whatsoever. Until you realize that a new “key” called “inclusion” is a means by which to generate positive press for reopening Disneyland. Until you realize that keeping Walt Disney World running at the barest of offerings will increase the likelihood that Californians accept Disneyland being reopened in a similar manner. If it costs a hundred million to get rid of Br’er Rabbit and the last vestiges of slave folklore in the parks of CA, so be it if it keeps the positive press going to get the park reopened. If keeping Columbia Harbor House, the Crystal Palace, Boma, and dozens of other popular restaurants closed at Disney World with minimal hours and low capacity is a bad business decision in isolation… and if that strategy costs cast members their jobs in Orlando… so be it. That’s the cost of a strategy of reopening Disneyland in Anaheim.

In the OPINION of the author, reopening Disneyland is an already decided action. It’s going to happen. But there were prices to be paid for getting it done, and we’re seeing those prices take place. Inclusion had to be a new “key” with new initiatives… it didn’t matter that there was no exclusion at Disney before. Virtual presentation with a ton of execs? Yep, gotta make it look like you’re groveling. Open Disney World more? Nah, that’s not popular three time zones away.

You’ll likely get to go back through the gates of Disneyland before New Years Day 2021. But those gates reopened at a cost. Just ask the Orlando musicians who had jobs for decades, and the cast members who will surely follow soon.

WDW Pro
WDW Pro came on the scene in the last two years as a reliable source for insider scoops, rumors, and news for the entertainment industry - specifically Disney. In 2020, and in spite of rapidly changing decisions behind the scenes, WDW Pro maintained an 87% accuracy rate for reports about Disney Parks' plans prior to public reveal. Pro seeks to detail the latest in entertainment with a focus on ethical, counter-narrative truthfulness.

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