What’s up with Disney?
What’s going on at The Walt Disney Company? Plenty – and we’ll know in the months to come whether Disney survives or not. More to the point, we’ll know whether Disney will at last become the family-friendly company the American public expected it to be.
History of Disney – and where did Reedy Creek fit in?
CNAV has covered before the beginnings of what became the Walt Disney Company. It began with two brothers creating memorable cartoon and comic-book characters. The company has since exploded into theme parks, motion pictures, and television.
But CNAV must now reveal some more history from the Sixties. Walt Disney planned more than winsome characters, his Anaheim theme park, and his animated and live-action movies. He also planned to build an entire city that would prove concepts of futuristic living. He called it Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow – EPCOT for short. At first he thought of taking over the site of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Disney also considered sites in New Jersey, the Washington, D.C. area, St. Louis, even Palm Beach. Finally the company settled on central Florida.
And that’s when they bought all that land in Orange and Osceola Counties, and proposed the Reedy Creek Improvement District. That District was never supposed to exist merely for theme parks! The Walt Disney Company planned to build a city, in which no one would own anything but everyone would have a job, and the city would govern itself without regard to any authorities in Orange or Osceola Counties. To lobby then-Governor Haydon Burns, Disney produced a short film – the EPCOT film. Worth noting, incidentally, is that Arthur C. Clark featured the original EPCOT concept in his novel 2010: Odyssey Two.
What ended up happening to EPCOT
But this futuristic city would never happen. Walt Disney died even before Burns’ successor Charles Kirk signed the Reedy Creek Improvement Act into law. With no living person to advocate as effectively for it, the city concept died within two years. And for more than ten years after that, Walt Disney World consisted only of the Magic Kingdom Park and several themed hotels and at least one “residential hotel” facility: Disney Village. Eventually EPCOT did come into being, but not as a city. Instead the EPCOT Center opened as just another theme park, but more like a continuing world’s fair. It consists of:
- Futureworld, with pavilions dedicated to a wide variety of technological visions including sea, land, energy, and medicine, and
- The World Showcase, with no fewer than nine national pavilions featuring history and even food from each country.
Your editor visited EPCOT in 1993, and at the time it seemed like a theme park for adults – not racy, but genuinely educational. But before the century ended, Disney had to rip out all the Futureworld pavilions and start over – because everything in them was now present-day! The AT&T Geosphere pavilion ended with a mockup of astronauts repairing a communications satellite in orbit. The very time your editor saw that, NASA ran a space shuttle mission with astronauts repairing the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit. So because Futureworld was now Present-world, Disney had to project everything further into the future.
A cautionary tale
All this to show that the Walt Disney Company still cared about entertainment, and projecting visions of a hopeful future. But CNAV must tell you that your editor found something “off” at EPCOT and even at the Magic Kingdom. Why did the AT&T Pavilion throw in a hint that Christian monks were lazy compared to Arabs when it came to preserving Roman historical works? The ride through the Geosphere featured an Arab hard at work, and a Christian monk sawing logs at his desk. What was that all about?
And why was the United States Pavilion at the World Showcase not as patriotic as it might have been? Why, in the evening music and light show, did they introduce it with George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue? True, that piece has become nearly iconic in American popular music. It’s better than most of the noise that passes for music today. But every other pavilion featured patriotic music for its country. So you’d expect the United States Pavilion to feature, if not “The Star Spangled Banner,” then “America the Beautiful.” Instead we get Rhapsody in Blue. Again – just a little “off.”
Which means that Disney might have been going a little woke before woke became a passive participle in American English. Some even say Walt Disney himself felt that way. That EPCOT city sounds a lot like Klaus Schwab’s Great Reset, in fact. But Disney knew at least to keep it subtle.
Then Bob Iger came, and threw subtlety to the winds.
A Tale of Two Bobs at Disney
Bob Iger, by all accounts, salted Disney’s creative, management, and executive teams with openly woke players. After that, the “woke” direction of Disney became anything but subtle. During the Bob Iger era, Disney bought Lucasfilm and hired Kathleen Kennedy to run it and turn Star Wars into something it never was. Kennedy’s thesis wasn’t queer theory, but it was intersectional feminism. “The Force is female!” she declared, and planned all along to remake The Force into a Galactic Mother Goddess. Understand that, and you will understand everything else she did at Lucasfilm.
As everyone who follows entertainment knows, she produced a total of five film for the Star Wars franchise. One of them, Rogue One, did well. It blended seamlessly into the original film and told a great story of the “Rebel Spies” who stole the Death Star plans. But you knew something was wrong when all the great heroes were hero-ines.
The rest, quite simply, went into the tank. Solo, about the young Han Solo, most people totally forget. But the Disney Sequel Trilogy had people canceling out the whole franchise.
The Disney board took notice. So they brought in Bob Chapek, with a mission at least to make Disney politically neutral again. That didn’t go over very well, not only with Kathleen Kennedy but with all the other Bob Iger Woke Bullies. They started looking for a way to strike back. And they got it.
The Florida Anti-grooming Bill
Enter Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). He proposed the Parental Rights in Education Act. Under it, as CNAV has said before, K-3 classroom instruction shall not include instruction in alternative sexual lifestyles. But more than that, anything you do say in class or to any particular pupil, you have to share with the parents. Which means that outside groomers do not come into a school, suggest that a girl might be a boy (or a boy a girl), and not tell that girl’s or boy’s parents!
Aha, said the Woke Bullies. There’s our wedge issue. So when Bob Chapek said nothing about that bill, all those creatives threatened to quit at once. This, then, was Bob Iger’s payoff. So many of the creatives, managers, and executives at Disney were part of this bully crowd that Bob Chapek couldn’t buck them all at once. So you got the Bob Chapek Hostage Video of him practically groveling to them. And that’s why the official position of Disney became to seek repeal of the anti-grooming bill or to sue it away in court.
Disney’s customer base has let the company have it. The Disney Plus app might lose as many as a million subscribers. Families have canceled trips to Walt Disney World and the other parks. Several people protested outside of the Disney Burbank headquarters building. And the America First Legal Foundation sent a letter to the Chairman of the Board, demanding three different kinds of investigations.
What’s really going on here?
Are people at Disney such fools? The Bob Iger Woke Bullies have decided they don’t care whether the company thrives or tanks. If they bring down Disney they’ll move on to some other company. Maybe Six Flags, Seaworld, or Cedar Fair will be next.
And what’s Bob Chapek thinking? Either he deliberately showed the Board what would happen to the company by giving the activists exactly what they wanted, or he is in over his head, is already defeated, and might as well get whatever golden parachute he can get and retire to private life.
The deliberate show-what-happen theory has this to recommend it. At Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy is on the outs. But more: the Woke Bullies had their Zoom bull session. That was never supposed to get out. But somebody leaked it. Who did it? Mightn’t Chapek have done it?
But the over-his-head theory has this to recommend it: things are breaking down at Disney. The theme parks have had several rides to break down with guests on them. Your editor has direct experience as a ride operator/attendant at a theme park. A ride going down with people on it is a site-wide scandal. You do. Not. Let. That. Happen. When it does, you give people their money back and take the ride down for the rest of the day, or at least until you have figured out Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Well, it’s been happening at Disney. If they don’t stop it, some guest is going to get hurt.
Revocation of the Disney self-government district
And now, last week Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill to revoke every autonomous improvement district before 1968. That specifically includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Effective June 1, 2023, every part of the Disney complex reverts to the jurisdiction of whatever county it’s in. Reedy Creek Fire and Police Departments? Gone. And start paying property taxes!
And it’s worth remembering that the Polk County Sheriff recently ran a sting operation to catch diddlers of children. He called it Operation March Sadness. Four of the suspects he caught in his dragnet, worked for Disney.
Bear that in mind when Erick-Woods Erickson, Never Trumper Extraordinaire, insists that the Reedy Creek revocation will fall in court. He cites O’Hare Truck Service v. City of Northlake, 518 US 712 (1996). The owner of a tow truck service opposed the reelection campaign of the Mayor of Northlake, Ill. So Hizzoner revoked Mr. O’Hare’s towing contract. The Supreme Court, 7-2, said, no, Mr. Mayor, you may not do that. Mr. O’Hare was exercising his freedom of speech.
Sorry, Mr. Erickson, but that’s not the whole story. Reedy Creek was supposed to be about building an experimental city, not building a monster theme-park complex. So Reedy Creek isn’t serving its original purpose. Add Operation March Sadness, and now you’ve got to wonder. Has Disney covered up for cast members diddling small guests in their parks? Maybe the Sheriffs of Orange and Osceola Counties want to investigate. When Reedy Creek goes, they can.
How we find out who’s playing what game
Bottom line: Bob Chapek, as CEO of Disney, has a big swamp to drain. The Board hasn’t given him the support he needs. Did he show the Board what could happen by making it happen? Maybe. Again, maybe he, or his spy, leaked video from that Zoom Bull Session that Christopher F. Rufo released. On the other hand, his background was in theme parks, so why are rides breaking down on his watch? And with people on them, at that?
That new law gives Disney more than thirteen months to get their act together. Chapek needs to fire all those Bob Iger Woke Bullies. The Christopher F. Rufo Leaks should give the Orange and Osceola County Sheriffs enough evidence to haul some of their cute little hindquarters out of their offices in handcuffs. For not only encouraging the grooming of children in school but also grooming children in their programming. The Independent Counsels that America First Legal demands, should go in, find out what’s going on, and root it out.
If these things happen, maybe Disney can still reach an accommodation. It might not look like the Reedy Creek Improvement District, but maybe it could be a separate Reedy Creek County. And if they do not happen, Disney goes down. Never mind the Governor of Colorado inviting Disney to move there. You don’t move Walt Disney World to another State; it’s too big. More to the point, people just won’t go there anymore.
Videos and other resources
The Midnight’s Edge series:
The EPCOT Film:
A review of an earlier Disney film:
Press conference by Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County on Operation March Sadness:
Previous Declarations of Truth Videos:
The Christopher F. Rufo series:
A tweet from 1996 showing how long this has been going on:
The America First Legal demand letter: