[Opinion] Disney’s Decision to Open Shanghai Disneyland First Sends the Wrong Signals

I know that the Walt Disney Company needs money desperately and the Chinese Communist Government needs the public relations win of having their Disney Park open before Disneyland in Anaheim or Walt Disney World in Orlando. Yet this decision to open Shanghai Disneyland first still baffles me, even though it doesn’t shock me in the least. It should be a wake up call to all of us living in the West just how important the Chinese market is to Disney (remember #thanksshanghai) and most American corporations. China is more important to them than America. That is both fact by the future market potential and by the signal they are sending. Of course there will be many who will look the other way on this because of their love of The Walt Disney Company. I understand it, I do. No one loves the company more than me. But just read Disney CEO Robert Iger’s book. What does he feel is his crowning achievement? The opening of Shanghai Disneyland in Communist China. And now after a pandemic that has killed nearly 300 thousand people worldwide, that at best was caused due to antiquated Chinese wet market policies, that is where Disney opens first. Of course at worst it ranges from being a mistake at the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, to potentially even more sinister beginnings that some reporting around the world and even statements by the President of the United States and his Secretary of State have hinted at. It is now widely agreed upon that the Chinese withheld information about COVID-19 from the WHO and even medical officials from countries around the world, that could have saved countless lives.

Many in the Disney community have questioned new Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s ability to command The Walt Disney Company but at Da Mouse we’ve always known he is capable of handling the role. He performed quite well in this interview even though the interview wasn’t exactly hard-hitting. Da Mouse will not shy away from pointing out disagreements as evidenced by this opinion piece but we will treat Chapek and others fairly and we implore the Disney community at large to do so as well. You can have reservations but the new Disney CEO deserves a fair chance. We don’t know any other way so you can be assured he’ll get that here.

Make no mistake about it, this will be a stain on Chinese history worse than Chernobyl on Russian history by orders of magnitude unless we all just accept the propaganda. After all, now we are being given hints by the current CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Chapek that the Chinese are the model of how we in the West should probably culturally adapt. Non-medical masks are our purported savior as if we don’t know the truth that they are barely effective. Just in case the barrage of false reporting has skewed your mind, you can contract Coronavirus in a multitude of ways including through glands in your mouth, eyes and nose. Those pretty little Disney non-medical cloth masks only help to stop some droplets, not all, from escaping a potentially sick park goer’s mouth when speaking, breathing, coughing or sneezing. Then you add in the fact that medical professionals will tell you even a N-95 Mask is a like a power tool that one must be trained how to properly use. I can assure you most people with a mask that aren’t in the medical profession do not know how to properly use them rendering them nearly useless perhaps even counterproductive. And with the number of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 there’s only one sure-fire way of preventing spread in these pre-vaccine days in a heavily trafficked area such as a theme park. Waiting till there are close to, if not zero, cases of the disease present whether by herd immunity, waiting for the disease to run its course, or barring human life from anything public except grocery stores where logic and science be damned by governments because they figure we’ve at least got to eat. The long and short of it is quite simple. I expect the Chinese Government to deliver propaganda day in and day out but you have to wonder why Americans who are educated, know exactly what I’ve described above, are still preaching and promoting China from the proverbial rooftops at a time when they’ve at the very least indirectly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens and destroyed many livelihoods, the impact of which is just beginning to unfold now around the world. To stand with the Chinese Government at a time like this (let me be clear I’m not talking about the Chinese people who are constantly subjugated by the terrible Chinese Communist Party whether it be in Hong Kong or even in Wuhan itself) is asinine. But money makes fools of most and greed has withered the fabric of America.

Non-medical masks aren’t totally useless because doing something versus doing nothing isn’t a winning argument. But their effectiveness, that is already low to begin with since they can’t prevent the smaller droplets that carry the virus, are severely impacted by misuse, poor materials and becoming wet even from just exhalation. Throw in heat, humidity and rain and the many variables that humans introduce by their lack of education on the subject matter and you’ve got a mitigation step that is largely there to keep litigation lawyers away from Disney and only to a lesser extent to provide for your safety.

I’m not telling you not to visit Disney, and certainly I’d wear a mask if I was visiting Disney during this time (required by Disney to visit Disney Springs when it opens on May 20) though I don’t foresee myself visiting until Disney’s medical and legal teams feel it is safe enough to where Disney can resume normal operations of their theme parks without requiring one. I’m just asking the Disney community at large to open their eyes to what’s happening right in front of them. You can choose to disagree with the thoughts I’ve drawn but you can’t deny that something feels off in all of this. Certainly I understand the financial reality of The Walt Disney Company that like most companies today are run to be efficient and not resilient. I mean how many Fortune 500 companies are carrying the cash on hand like Apple Inc. to withstand any potential economic, geopolitical or in this case pandemic storm that leads to the other two? It’s why Disney was forced to raise so much capital since the Pandemic began to severely damage their cash flow. I even understand that the Walt Disney Company is in a tough legal position due to COVID-19 because lawyers in America bring tons of frivolous lawsuits. To this end, liability protections are something that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled will be part of the next fiscal stimulus bill that is working its way through Congress. This will certainly help the Disney Parks return to normal. But Disney didn’t have to open Shanghai Disneyland first, it chose to. And the question you must ask yourself is why? Why is Disney who carefully shapes every bit of their image choosing to so closely align their image with Shanghai Disneyland at a time when China is a political hot potato. I hope it’s just financial expediency and necessity and not that America’s greatest symbol of freedom and happiness has devolved into a tool of the Chinese Government with willing participants in America. But if you think Mickey and the Chinese Communist Party aren’t quite cozy then I’ll leave you with this article by the New York Times which details just some of the publicly known ways Disney has curried favor from China.