Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Disney World releases dystopian footage of masked employees welcoming visitors on reopening day

Walt Disney World Resort’s “Welcome Back” commercial
Walt Disney World Resort’s “Welcome Back” commercial
Screenshot: YouTube

As the number of coronavirus cases surges in Florida, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opened up to droves of guests on Saturday. Some Disney resort employees have protested and petitioned to delay the park reopenings until it is safer to gather in large groups, but others are seen smiling (or maybe not?) under masks and welcoming back guests in a bizarre ad released ahead of today’s reopening. “Directed by Jordan Peele,” one Twitter user commented of the footage. Even in its original form, the ad is quite dystopian. But it didn’t take long for people to set the video to things like the score of The Shining and Stranger Things’ opening title music.

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While it’s clear some Disney World employees were happy to welcome guests back Saturday (or at least looked like they were as someone pointed a gun at them off-camera), not all employees were welcomed back themselves. According to The Hollywood Reporter, there had been an ongoing union negotiation to recall furloughed workers, but Actors’ Equity on Thursday said Disney “rescinded all of its recall notices for Equity members,” which they claimed was retaliation for demanding COVID-19 testing. “Since our public request that Disney test performers in the park, there have been more than 114,000 new coronavirus cases in Florida. Rather than agree to testing of performers, Disney has decided to retaliate against workers fighting for a safe workplace,” the union said in a statement. Disney responded: “Seven unions signed agreements to have their employees return to work, the Actors’ Equity rejected our safety protocols and have not made themselves available to continue negotiations, which is unfortunate. We are exercising our right to open without Equity performers.”

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Social media is full of photos and video of long parking lot lines and people on rides in masks at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, which are the only two Disney parks currently open in the United States. Nearby Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will reopen on July 15. Universal Studios in Orlando reopened in early June, as did Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Disneyland Paris is set to reopen July 15.

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Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif., were originally set to reopen on the 65th anniversary date Disneyland’s opening, July 17, but those plans have been delayed indefinitely. But that hasn’t stopped California Disneyphiles from finding ways to congregate amidst the pandemic: Anaheim’s Downtown Disney reopened this week, with hundreds lining up overnight on Wednesday to be among the first to walk around what is basically a glorified shopping center. But hey, at least they’re selling masks with Baby Yoda on them.

A.V. Club Editor in Chief...but really just a She-Ra, Schitt’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, Big Brother, Top Chef, The Good Place superfan.

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