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Thoughts on Pop Warner Expulsion at WDW

13 Dec

You’ve probably read by now about the Pop Warner team members and their families who were kicked out of Disney hotels because of a fight among some of the players. There’s been a certain amount of cheering in the Disney fan community, as many feel that the Pop Warner kids are often unruly.

Now, I can’t comment on whether in fact Pop Warner week brings a greater level of unruliness and chaos to Walt Disney World, having not been around to experience Pop Warner week firsthand. I do know that cries of “zero tolerance” make me think back to the racial profiling allegations at Downtown Disney some months back, and make me wonder idly what, if any, subtle connections there are to the discussions that happened at that time (both among the fan community, and behind-the-scenes at Disney).

More clearly, I also do know that it’s bad for Disney’s corporate image to be kicking families out of their hotels at 3:00AM, under threat of police action, because of the actions of their kids’ teammates. From the Honolulu Advertiser:

Shortly after the fight, at about 3 a.m., the 70 players and family members from O’ahu as well as families from Baltimore were given written notices from the Walt Disney resort informing them that they had 20 minutes to vacate the property or Orange County sheriff’s deputies would be called to remove them.

The notice prompted panic. Entire families, including small children, were awakened and told to gather in the corner of a parking lot as emergency lodging arrangements were made, Kong said.

“It was frantic, trying to find us a place to stay. The little ones were scared just being woken up and pulled out of bed. They were crying and wondering what was going on,” said Kong. “We felt abandoned and helpless. We understand they have a no-tolerance rule, but we didn’t appreciate how they handled it.”

And let’s also take a moment to reflect on John Frosts’ words, from The Disney Blog:

To me a salient point that everyone has failed to mention in their coverage, is that Disney requires the teams and their families to stay on the Walt Disney World property if they are going to participate in the Pop Warner championship. It’s not like the teams chose to sign this agreement and stay with Disney. They were forced to sign to play in the championship.

This article in the Boston Globe from January shows the kind of pressure this puts teams and their families under to raise money for the trip and how much money Disney makes when teams aren’t allowed to stay at off property hotels that could save them a lot of money.

The teams didn’t choose to stay there. The families didn’t choose to stay there. And most of the families who were kicked out in the middle of the night probably didn’t even know about the fight that had broken out . . . because their kids weren’t in the fight.

Surely there wouldn’t have been any threat to public safety if the families whose kids were not involved had been allowed to sleep through the night. And it might have been better for business too. Once again, from John Frost:

To top it off, I’m sure this event is going to build some bad will between Disney and the residents of Oahu, where Disney is currently planning to build its first mega-resort not attached to a theme park.

Nara Dreamland: Another Disney Clone Park

16 Jun

Thank goodness for the Interweb. How else would I have friends like Eric from MouseGuest, who send me links to awesome things I may have otherwise missed?

Nara Dreamland is another Asian Disney clone park, this time in Nara, Japan. The illustrated trip review at ThemeParkInsider presents it as a wonderful mass of contradictions. One minute you’re in Disneyland, the next you’re in that haunted, abandoned theme park from Spirited Away. And Hello Kitty is there too!

Haven’t had enough? Need a little spin on the Screw Coaster? Here’s a YouTube for you, from the same good people:

Pop Warner Kids Challenged by Disney Prices

7 Jan

The Boston Globe has a detailed and saddening article today about the Pop Warner events at Disney World, and how hard it is for the families to afford the trips. (Warning: While this link is good as of this writing, in some number of days it’ll move into the pay-for-access Boston Globe Archives; wdwinfo.com has posted the article in its entirety, so you can view it there too.)

Sounds like there’s plenty of blame to spread around here. Pop Warner’s contract with Disney requires the players to buy theme park tickets in order to play in the football games, and there’s no option to stay off site. Disney could be kinder, and make exceptions for teams in financially difficult circumstances. Pop Warner could have chosen another site, or negotiated a different contract. Either way, the kids’ families often aren’t prepared to pay the high prices, and it becomes a hardship.

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