In Orlando, Florida, Disney is increasing its territorial domain by opening an animal park visitors can drive through ? la safari. The only problem with this set-up is that some animals have strayed from Disney’s original plan – and have gotten themselves killed by crossing paths with gawking visitors’ tour vehicles.
While Disney should be applauded for its efforts to raise public awareness of endangered animals, bringing them to Florida to face the dangers of automobiles and tourists with plastic cameras dangling on their necks does not seem to be a much better alternative.
This park is not the first time Disney has found itself in the spotlight of commercialism and irony. A few years ago, the top cheeses in the Magic Kingdom decided to open a historical amusement area on grounds of the Manassas Battlefield in Virginia. Disney said it would keep alive the memory of the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives there during the Civil War. Preservationists were incensed that memories of the dead would be “Disneyfied.” The only thing that stopped the building plans was the public outcry and anger at the proposal.
Disney has also run into a good deal of criticism over its version of mass-marketed history. Films like “Pocahontas,” “Hercules” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” have been morphed from their original versions to garner mass-market appeal. While Disney has without doubt entertained millions of people for decades, perhaps some of its plans are a bit too far reaching and not well thought out. Maybe it should keep building theme parks and leave the animal preserves to the experts – rather than smashing wildlife into the happy, for-your-amusement Disney style.