Is Disney Held to a higher standard?

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Jen at Irish Wake looks at the coverage the recent Roller Coaster accident at Cypress Gardens and asks if Disney is held to a higher standard in these incidents. The story passed with just a few mentions in the news, but Jen says,

…last year, the media coverage of the death of four year old Daudi
Bamuwamye after riding the Mission: Space ride at EPCOT was completely
different.  Despite the fact that he had heart problems and there are
13 (estimated) warnings posted before riding the ride, the media made
it look as if Disney was to fault for the incident.

This earned a response from the Orlando Sentinel Crime Editor in the comments of the post. Where he states that Disney merits extra attention as the largest employer in the area. Does that seem reason enough to you? I’d like to think that safety concerns are important no matter what theme park they happen at.

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5 thoughts on “Is Disney Held to a higher standard?”

  1. I think there is a bit of a double standard, but as the leading theme park company, and the largest employer in the region, Disney should expect the media to react as they do.

    Another factor is that the M:S story had a much more ‘mysterious’ cause than the Cypress Gardens event.

    Theme park safety issues should always be reported by the media. However, I just wish that the reporting was a little more responsible and reasonable rather than sensational. Probably too much to ask though when local news organizations are so driven by ratings and circulation numbers.

  2. Yes, I think safety concerns are important no matter which park incidents happen. I don’t mean to imply that safety concerns are not covered in the media when they happen at other parks. They are. Just not to the same degree.

    Why not? IMHO, because of Disney’s “magic factor.” I interviewed Richard Foglesong as part of my research and he talked about how “Disney is selling a fantasy.” I think that’s a terrific explanation. The general public believes that nothing can go wrong when they are at Disney. Therefore, when/if something does, people are shocked. Their minds are still in Fantasyland, but their bodies are in Orlando. (Okay, Lake Buena Vista.)

    However, the sole fact that Disney is Disney makes any incident more newsworthy than others.

  3. David–It’s not just local news organizations that are driven by ratings and circulation numbers; it’s ALL media. The media is a business. Their goal is to make money. However, I think most outlets in Central Florida do a fairly objective job and don’t let sensationalism creep in. (Well, so long as it isn’t time for sweeps anyway.)

  4. Just a short note, in case people don’t go back to my comment on Irish Wake. I am not saying the incident at Cypress Gardens deserved the limited attention it got. As I noted, I wasn’t around this weekend, so I don’t know the decisions that went into it. I was only making a brief case for why the Daudi/Mission Space case deserved the attention it got. I think these are good discussions to have and I look forward to reading more. John Cutter, Criminal Justice Editor, Orlando Sentinel.

  5. Disney getting more negative press is in equal proportion to Disney getting more positive press. People like it when someone on top gets knocked down a notch. Ask Don Henley- we love dirty laundry. Not to trivialize the respective accidents, but it is basically the same thing as Lindsey Lohan making headlines for a speeding ticket, while Joe Schmoe doesn’t even get the back page.

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