Guests who frequent the four theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida may disagree on which of the nighttime spectaculars in the parks is the best, which international festival at EPCOT is the most engaging, and which of the “mountain” attractions in the parks is the most thrilling. But one thing on which guests can agree is that within the confines of Disney’s park property, there are numerous rules that must be followed, and that expectation extends to every guest.
But with the rise of social media and influencers online, Disney has reportedly adopted a set of rules and regulations specifically for social media influencers who visit the parks (when they are visiting in that capacity). And that set of rules has been met with some pushback as some of those required to follow them say the guidelines are virtually impossible to follow.
The Ridiculousness of Disney Parks’ Rules for Influencers
Ruben Bolling with BoingBoing.net reports that he didn’t receive a copy of Disney Parks’ guidelines for influencers directly from Disney, but he was able to get a copy of the so-called “Brand Guidelines for Influencers.” Bolling describes the guidelines as “hilariously impossible to abide by” and points out that Disney’s theme parks are notorious for breaking the very rules they have set forth for influencers.
Bolling further points out that a strict adherence to Disney’s rules for influencers would mean never showing, referring to, or talking about one of the parks’ most iconic attractions–namely, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. That’s because elements in the ride go against nearly all of the rules outlined for influencers.
Rules for Influencers in the Parks: What Cannot Be Mentioned
Influencers in Disney’s theme parks–which include Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort near Anaheim, California, and Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida–are forbidden from mentioning certain things, making it nearly impossible to adhere to the rules in a strict manner, especially since many of the elements inside the parks include and/or display many of these things in and of themselves.
Disney Parks’ guidelines for influences preclude them from mentioning the following topics or including them in their online content.
Tobacco and Alcohol
Disney’s “Brand Guidelines for Influencers” reportedly state that influencers are to refrain from mentioning tobacco and alcohol. But this can be tricky, especially for influencers who visit EPCOT during any of the handful of international festivals that take place at Disney World’s second park throughout the year.
For example, EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival takes place annually, and the very title makes mention of alcohol. Though the festival includes music and other offerings as well, the bulk of the event centers around food and drink offerings in the park, and many of those drinks are alcoholic.
But influencers who want to discuss the festival are prohibited from mentioning the very aspect of “wine” in the International Food and Wine Festival, which, in theory, would also mean that influencers technically shouldn’t even mention the name of the festival. The restrictions also mean that influencers are prohibited from discussing offerings of wine and other alcoholic beverages at EPCOT during the festival.
There are even attractions that feature drinking and tobacco use. In Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, pirates are seen drinking throughout the ride, and at Magic Kingdom’s Carousel of Progress, John, the animatronic host of the attraction, is seen smoking a pipe.
If Disney Parks were truly monitoring the online content produced by every social media influencer, Bolling says that the prevalence of that content that shows alcoholic drink offerings in the parks–or the consumption of the drinks–would lead to a deletion of more than one-third of that content.
Guns and Ammunition
Guns and ammunition are also to be excluded from influencers’ content, but that would mean that a myriad of Disney Parks rides and attractions would have to be skipped where online content is concerned. The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is the first ones that comes to mind, as there are guns used in many scenes of the ride, and there are even simulated “cannonball” sounds between ships in one scene.
And speaking of Magic Kingdom attractions that could get online influencers into trouble, Frontierland is home to one of the most potentially restricted attractions in the parks. The Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade is known for putting a “replica .54 caliber Hawkins buffalo rifle” into the hands of guests, including children.
Violence, Fighting, and War
While Disney’s “Brand Guidelines for Influencers” mandates that influencers refrain from including references to fighting, violence, and war in their online content, Bolling points out that a large part of The Walt Disney Company’s recent investment in its theme parks has been the multi-billion-dollar investment it made in creating new areas inside the parks that include the very word wars in the name of the film that inspired those new areas: Star Wars.
It’s worth mentioning that the sale of lightsabers is not restricted to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Resort and Disney World, as sabers can be made and purchased in other areas of the parks, like in the gift shop at the exit of the Star Tours attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Lightsabers are routinely used as the weapons of choice in Star Wars battles throughout the Skywalker Saga and in every spinoff associated with the franchise. And let’s not even begin to talk about the continual undercurrent of intergalactic war that permeates every storyline in every offering within the franchise.
Outside of the Star Wars influence, there are other rides that center around some type of physical conflict. For example, Peter Pan’s Flight depicts a swordfight between Captain Hook and Peter Pan. The Snow White (1937)-themed attraction, called Snow White’s Enchanted Wish at Disneyland Resort, also includes a depiction and suggestion of the old hag poisoning Snow White–followed by a conflict between the Seven Dwarfs and the old witch.
And again, those pirates that call the high seas of the Caribbean their home are once again on the chopping block under this restriction, especially when it’s considered that multiple battle scenes are depicted in the attraction.
Politics, Social Issues, and Activism
Influencers are also prohibited from injecting politics and the like into their online content, which has likely grown more difficult in recent years as the political discord between Disney and the State of Florida has been a hot topic since early 2022.
But even outside of the recent political and social butting of heads between Disney and Gov. Ron DeSantis, Disney Parks are full of attractions that are centered around the politics of history, as well as more recent politics in elections, etc., as seen in Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents attraction in Liberty Square. EPCOT’s American Adventure attraction also takes a deep dive into slavery, the Civil War, and other aspects of the history of the United States.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, even the fictional “land” of Pandora focuses on the topic of ecological conservation. The World of Avatar also takes a look at the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as the topic of anti-colonialism.
Are influencers to refrain from including these areas, these rides, and these attractions in their content? As far as the parks’ guidelines for influencers are concerned, the answer is a resounding yes. But as the number of social media influencers seems to grow by the day, another question must be answered: Is The Walt Disney Company willing to create job descriptions and hire candidates for cast member roles in the parks whose sole responsibility is to watch online content created by influencers and determine which content must be cut?
And though we have yet to ask Disney Parks management that question, we tend to think the answer is not such a resounding yes, and until there are cast members charged with viewing influencers’ online content and weeding out those who break the rules, we’re thinking that influencers, though technically bound by a set of guidelines, largely has the advantage in this game.