Monday, October 9, 2006

Disney Discriminates Against Ugly People

Yes, I am accusing the Disney-owned ABC television network of discrimination … against ugly people. Okay, this is entirely in jest but I’ll at least try and make some point out of posting this here.

My father, a fellow Disney fanatic like myself, brought this to my attention this past weekend. ABC’s morning talk-show, Good Morning America, is running a contest called ‘The Royal Treatment’, in conjunction with the Walt Disney Company’s North-American Theme Park marketing campaign ‘Year of a Million Dreams’ (I have issues with this slogan and the whole campaign in general but this is neither the place nor the time to discussing that right now). The winner, a ‘deserving family’ as Good Morning America’s website puts it, will ‘be the first to spend the night in the newly created Castle Suite high atop Cinderella Castle in the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom’. Sounds neat, doesn’t it? That is until you come to the realization that you’ll practically be a prisoner inside Cinderella’s Castle for an entire night. But, again, I am getting off topic. The contest rules are simple – write a three-hundred word essay on why your family should win a trip to the Walt Disney World resort and send it to Good Morning America along with a photo of the family.

The essay is an unusual element in of itself but the request for a photograph is what I really want to focus on. Why a photograph? Disney wants the picture-perfect Disney family. This means no ugly people (that includes ‘Zeke and Zed and Ted and Fred, and a bear named Tennessee’ from West Virginia with three teeth sticking out of their mouth), no old people, no single parents, no child-less families, etc. They want white (or possibly black, but I would imagine preferably white) beautiful middle-class parents with two children (a boy and a girl) … and I’ll throw in a dog (golden retriever) for good measure.

This is one of many problems I have with the major prizes up for grabs in the ‘Year of a Million Dreams’ campaign. The ‘Dream Squad’ who randomly selects guests to give prizes to inside the North-American Disney theme parks (even though this is a marketing campaign for all the Disney theme parks, only guests at the North-American parks are eligible for the major prizes, so Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland are getting ‘royally’ screwed with this one) are first pulled aside (Disney says this is not to ‘embarrass them’ when they are given their prize) and then told what prize they have won. I can see the scenario now backstage: “Well, they were suppose to get the DVC points, Jeff, but, geez, they’re so God damn ugly … now what are we going to give them?”

Don’t even get me started about the Spangler family, the first major prize-winners of the ‘Year of a Million Dreams’ celebration, who got exclusive access to the Magic Kingdom theme park at the Walt Disney World resort. Besides the fact that it for me would have been entirely creepy to have the attractions all to myself and every single cast member waiting on my every whim, I would have hated having a bull’s-eye on my back for the rest of the day. Why the bull’s-eye? The family got exclusive access to nearly every attraction in the park which meant that each land remained closed until they have gone on the rides they wanted and moved on to the next land. So, in essence most of the park that day (October 1st) remained closed until one in the afternoon. How pissed would you have been if you went to the park that day and found out that you couldn’t do what you wanted to that day because of this? Disney didn’t announce this in advance so it’s not your fault if you weren’t aware of this. Why didn’t Disney paint a bull’s-eye on them for Christ’s sake?