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Disneyland Security Accused of Anti-Gay Bias

26 Sep

From The Advocate:

The Walt Disney Co. is issuing a formal apology to a San Diego man for an incident at Disneyland that the company claims was a misunderstanding but which, the man asserts, was antigay bias.

Wil Kenney claims he was targeted and harassed by Disneyland security — as well as roughed up by Anaheim, Calif., police — because a Disney staff member overreacted to Kinney’s holding another man’s hand.

According to Kenney, he and his partner — along with two other same-sex couples and their children — were walking through the theme park’s Downtown Disney area on Saturday when Disney security detained them. Security claimed Kenney had threatened someone with a gun, which Kenney denied. Anaheim officers were called to the scene and, according to Kenney, forced him face-first into a wall and then frisked, searched, and interrogated him in front of hundreds of Disney guests. According to Kenney, officers left the scene after finding no weapons on anyone in his party. Kenney says he may have been targeted by police because a Disney employee grew nervous seeing Kenney holding hands with his partner, which he believes then led to the chain reaction of events.

You know, one of the things about being a member of a traditionally marginalized group is that when you’re treated badly, you always have to wonder whether your membership in that group played a part in causing the bad treatment. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong . . . but you always have to wonder. It can wear a girl’s spirit down.

And sometimes the people who are treating you badly don’t even realize the subconscious effects that their own bias and prejudice might be having on their actions. People are, well, human. Bias and prejudice are pretty heavily interwoven into the cultural influences that surround us. We may have privileges we’re not even aware of, which prevent us from seeing the bias that others are living with; I’ve found the essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” an invaluable resource, with lessons that transcend race.

I’ll be interested to see what additional details emerge from this case. I feel especially badly for the kids who had to witness this incident.

Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture: “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”

22 Sep

Randy Pausch has given his last lecture. A Disney Imagineer, the founder of Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, and director of the Alice software project, Pausch will be long remembered for his significant contributions to education and technology.

Diagnosed with terminal cancer, and given a short prognosis, Pausch chose to deliver his final lecture as part of a CMU series where prominent academics were once asked to deliver the lecture they would choose if they knew it would be their last. I watched the full lecture yesterday and Pausch’s words are still echoing in my heart. This is a man who has truly lived, and brought life to the dreams of others. (You have to watch for that second head fake, it’s a doozy.)

In his personal home page, Pausch gives us words of hope from a dark place:

Somewhere during my treatment, somebody asked me if having cancer had made me believe less, or more, in God. I replied that I didn’t know, but it sure had made me believe more in people.

(Hat tip: The Disney Blog.)

Unhappy Disney Workers in Hong Kong and China

12 Sep

Two news stories caught my eye today, technically unrelated but both datelined “Hong Kong”.

DIS News reports that Disney has been found to violate Chinese labor laws:

Workers at a Chinese factory making Disney toys are overworked, underpaid, exposed to dangerous toxins and forced to live in filthy conditions, a labour rights group said in a report Wednesday.

The EarthTimes reports that things aren’t all that much happier at Hong Kong Disneyland:

On top of its disappointingly low crowds, a survey conducted by the Disney Cast Members Union among 470 of the 5,000-odd staff found that 63 per cent were unhappy with management, complaining largely of unequal treatment and what they see as unfair work distribution.

More than 80 per cent of respondents said they wanted Hong Kong Disneyland to bring its labour practices in line with those at the Disney park in Florida, where staff can be accompanied by union officials at disciplinary hearings and have access to independent arbitration.

Congratulations to Lou Mongello and The WDW Radio Show!

16 Aug

The 2007 People’s Choice podcast awards were announced today, and The WDW Radio Show has taken top honors in the Travel category. (Hat tip to 2719 Hyperion.)

If you love Disney trivia and history, and have a few spare hours each week (sorry Lou, I couldn’t resist!), you really owe it to yourself to check out The WDW Radio Show. This week’s show is a great example of the high-quality, in-depth content.

I am also going to introduce the first in a recurring series entitled, Legends of Disney Imagineering. My first guest certainly qualifies to bear that title and introduction. He is George McGinnis, who played a large part in the creation of the Mark VI monorail, Space Mountain, Horizons, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and countless other attractions and vehicles in Walt Disney World. In this exclusive, one-on-one interview, Mr. McGinnis shares stories of being personally hired by Walt Disney, the triumphs and challenges in creating such attractions as the WEDWay PeopleMover, Space Mountain, Communicore and countless others. He reminisces about working with not only Walt Disney, but a who’s who of Disney legends, including Dick Nunis, Marty Sklar, John Hench, Bob Gurr, Roger Broggie, Claude Coates, and so many others. It is truly something special that I think you’re going to enjoy and was a personal privilege for me to do. And listen very carefully, as he also shares a secret about a change that is likely coming soon to one of his Walt Disney World attractions.

If you have any time left after listening to WDW Radio, there’s a wealth of other great podcasts on the list, in categories ranging from Business to Gaming to Education. Or if you simply can’t get enough Mongello, he’s a frequent co-host on WDW Today. (And no, I’m not just sending you there because they plugged my blog this week . . . I’m also sending you there because yesterday’s episode was wonderfully weird. Hey Matt Hochberg, you might want to drag yourself out of your sickbed soon, those guys are going off the deep end without you!)

Bob Iger Argues for Baby Einstein’s Merits

14 Aug

Just saw this on DIS News: The Walt Disney Company is demanding that University of Washington retract its Baby Einstein study. From Bob Iger’s letter:

The study fails to account for, let alone assess, the interactive nature of products such as Baby Einstein, seemingly dismisses the importance of interactivity as a factor by assuming without proof that interaction is equally important regardless of content design, and then undermines even that unproven assumption by conceding that the study “cannot capture the quality of [parent-child] interactions, which surely vary.”

While it is indisputable that children develop at different rates and differ in their innate abilities, there is no attempt to control for these differences which are particularly important in the sample of younger babies.

Iger would seem to be agreeing with Sarah, who posted yesterday on my blog that the results of the University of Washington survey just suck.

My scientific mind would like to see more studies. As a parent, my gut feeling and anecdotal experience say that talking to your kids is a more effective way to teach them language than any other method (surely that’s how evolution should have set things up here). Don’t go thinking that this means I didn’t let my kid watch Sesame Street videos though . . . I can sing Ernie’s greatest hits with the best of ’em.

Tempest in a Teacup

18 Jul

From DIS News:

A 52-year-old Alabama woman was arrested on suspicion she beat and choked a woman who was allowed ahead of her while waiting to board a tea cup ride at Walt Disney World, according to authorities.

Sounds like somebody needs to switch to decaf.

Tigger Socks Protected Under First Amendment

4 Jul

San Francisco Chronicle has the scoop (hat tip to Mousevine!):

As long as they’re not carrying messages about “bong hits 4 Jesus,” students have the right to express themselves in the clothing they wear to school, whether it includes a cancer awareness pin or embroidery of Tigger on their socks, a Napa County judge has ruled in halting enforcement of a school’s dress code.

For the past nine years, Redwood Middle School in Napa has required students’ clothing and backpacks to be entirely solid colors and has banned pictures, words, symbols or patterns — except the school logo — as well as jeans or “denim-looking” clothes.

So, um, I guess those “bong hits for Tigger” shirts are out, but now the socks are A-OK.

My favorite commentary during the battle for Tigger socks was posted recently (but before the ruling above) by Little Tigger, on Mr Broke Hoedown’s blog Collateral Damage:

I will always wear my Tigger overalls,
I refuse to wear stupid plain growedup
clothes, if it becomes law, it will
be the first law I will have broken
in my whole life.

Small Explosion in Back Lot at Downtown Disney

2 Jul

From the Orlando Sentinel:

A Disney security officer on bike patrol called deputies at about 12:30 a.m. he heard a noise and saw white smoke coming from a garbage can in a back lot at of Downtown Disney, said Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty.

The garbage can is in the far lot behind the Cirque du Soleil theater, going toward the golf course at the Saratoga Springs Resort, Prunty said. There are no attractions or shops in that area.

When deputies arrived, they secured the area and later reported no damage or injuries.

Interesting that it happened in a back lot, nowhere near the areas most of us think of when we think “Downtown Disney.” Also, I’ve gotta wonder if there’s any relationship to earlier reports of a Disney Cast Member facing charges for bragging about placing a pipe bomb at Downtown Disney, which in that case was near Fulton’s Crab House.

Push the Talking Trash Can could not be reached for comment, but I think it’s safe to assume he was unharmed.

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