From Sophie Maerowitz, writing for PR News…
A Las Vegas man has gone viral for criticizing Disney World’s socially conscious updates to employee guidelines and its signature theme rides.
In an opinion column for the Orlando Sentinel titled “I love Disney World, but wokeness is ruining the experience,” Jonathan VanBoskerck expresses his frustration with the theme park. Newly relaxed policies around employee dress and changes to rides like Splash Mountain, VanBoskerck claims, show Disney has taken a politically motivated “woke scalpel” to the park. These moves, he writes, ruin the immersive atmosphere VanBoskerck has long treasured. VanBoskerck is chief deputy district attorney for Clark County, NV.
Melissa Vela-Williamson, APR, a specialist in diversity communication, is unsurprised. “If you are changing your products to be more aligned with present or future social good, your fans may question it,” she acknowledges.
Wendy J. Roundtree, APR, founder and chief storyteller at Jarel Communications, notes the word woke—that VanBoskerck uses provocatively in the headline and throughout the article—often is misappropriated by white commenters.
The term woke “is meant to bring attention to injustice, not something that personally upsets us.” Roundtree adds that while shifts toward racial equity and inclusion might make some, like VanBoskerck, “uncomfortable,” brands in Disney Parks’ position “shouldn’t be criticized for making changes that reflect social progress.”
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