Disney Vloggers Used PhotoShop, Spread Misinformation to Profit off the Tragedy of Hurricane Ian, and Viewers are Furious

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Recent social media posts and YouTube videos have given more insight into the thinking behind some so-called “evacuees” and their motives ahead of Hurricane Ian–as well as their practices during the storm. Viewers are furious, and tempers are running high as some have even called for the vloggers to be banned from Disney World for attempting to “monetize a tragedy.”

Astronauts watch as Hurricane Ian slams into Florida (photos) | Space

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Days before Hurricane Ian finally made landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast, forecasters and emergency management leadership urged Floridians to watch the weather closely and follow guidance from local law enforcement. Evacuation directives were eventually issued–some mandatory–to keep residents as safe as possible and out of the path of the extremely unpredictable storm.

2.5 million Floridians ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Ian barrels closer

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Evacuating–leaving one’s home, possessions, friends, comfort, and familiarity–and finding shelter elsewhere, whether with family or in a hotel–is no easy feat. What should be taken? What should be left behind? What will be left of one’s belongings after the storm passes? And is the promise of safety elsewhere only a mirage?

Those in the path of the storm who did not evacuate were faced with a certain uncertainty: how severe would the storm be? Was staying the right choice? And if power is lost, how long will there be no power, no water, no ability to leave?

2.5 Million Floridians Ordered To Evacuate Ahead Of Major Hurricane | ZeroHedge

Millions of Floridians were ordered to evacuate ahead of Ian’s arrival/Credit: ZeroHedge

These were just a few of the questions and scenarios faced by residents in Florida who had to make decisions about how they would respond to the storm. And most will say it’s an experience they don’t soon hope to repeat. Many Florida residents who evacuated made plans early enough to be able to book a Disney World Resort Hotel room. It’s a common practice; Disney has been a hub for many a hurricane rideout.

RELATED: Disney Makes Huge Announcement about One of Its Most Popular Resort Hotels

guests at fort wilderness hurricane ian

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But some who waited until the last minute to leave could not find accommodations at any Disney hotel. They were just about full, and early in the day on Wednesday, hours before Ian impacted Central Florida, Disney closed its doors to further check-ins, regardless of reservation status.

But in the days since Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida, several social media posts have made it increasingly clear why some Florida residents–including those who were not necessarily in the path of the monster storm–booked rooms at Disney World, and it had everything to do with the almighty dollar.

Free enterprise and capitalism are wonderful things, but it seems there’s something inherently wrong with profiting from the tragedies of others, and that’s just what some people feel happened while Hurricane Ian lashed out against Florida. That’s because several vloggers headed to Disney World to stay in a Resort hotel and monetize one of the worst natural disasters ever to touch Florida.

In pictures: Hurricane Ian batters Florida | All media content | DW | 29.09.2022

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And their attempts to monetize such a tragedy were helped along by Photoshopped imagery, the spreading of misinformation, and untruths.

One YouTuber, known for his daily posts online, booked a room at Disney’s Pop Century Resort and stayed there during the hurricane. He claims the room was booked by family members who ultimately canceled their trip–and that he made use of the reservation, even though he lives close to the Disney World Resort.

Disney's Pop Century Resort Review | Disney Daily Dime

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“It’s going to be scary times,” YouTuber Kyle Pallo said in his video, adding, “so if you guys could, please go ahead and thumbs up this video and subscribe if you guys are new.”

In one video, Pallo brags about purchasing the last available hurricane meal kit at the Resort hotel. These kits were put together for Guests who had come to Disney World to take shelter–many of whom most likely did not have time to purchase groceries beforehand–or who had very limited options at their local grocery stores as residents bought up groceries and supplies in preparation for the storm.

hurricane meal kits disney world

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Later in the video, the vlogger showed viewers the food he had brought with him to the hotel: various snacks, two loaves of bread, peanut butter, bottled water, two bottles of wine, and tequila.

On Twitter, Pallo was sure to post about scoring the last hurricane meal kit, tweeting, “Pop Century cafe is madness. BUT I did get the last meal kit :).”

Pallo’s posts did not sit well with some.

“That seems rather inconsiderate since YOU are a local and have a home to take shelter,” one person replied.

“Glad you got the last meal kit,” another user replied. “Screw those hungry people who were stuck at Pop without a home to go to 10 minutes away.”

Pallo’s roommate, JoJo Crichton, whose Disney-focused TikTok account has nearly 750,000 followers, also posted a video. His is titled, “Disney Springs & Resorts Are Shutting Down Due To Hurricane Ian! (no more water/gas).”

But when Crichton posted the video, the thumbnail featured an image of the Pop Century Resort sign with significant damage to it. But the damage was merely Photoshopped. Viewers were not impressed.
One of the top comments for Crichton’s video angrily chastises the vlogger for doing such a thing and asks, “In what world would you be compelled to literally Photoshop fake damage onto the Pop Century sign? People actually lost their homes, businesses, and lives in the storm, and I don’t think its destruction should be hyped and made into clickbait for a thumbnail. Please keep the editing and clickbait to your other videos that don’t actually cover natural disasters.”

Credit: JoJo Crichton

User Jav Mot commented on Crichton’s video, pointing out the discrepancies, saying “Crichton’s video showing the hurricane aftermath used a thumbnail with a cracked Pop Century sign (there was no such damage) and the title, ‘Guests STUCK at Polynesian Resort,’ seemingly implied people were trapped at the hotel due to the hurricane. Crichton freely roamed the Polynesian Village Resort, showing kids’ activities, open restaurants and relatively unobstructed outdoor walkways.It’s weird,’ he says on camera, zooming in on a small, plopped over palm. ‘The biggest destruction I’ve seen thus far at a Disney World resort is a bunch of trees and branches just falling off.'”
A thumbnail for another Pallo video shows the YouTuber looking grieved in front of a huge tree, felled by the massive hurricane. It’s titled, “Damages at Disney’s Pop Century Resort Due to Direct Impact From Hurricane Ian.”

But viewers of the video soon learn that there was very minimal damage at the Resort hotel. There were some fallen tree branches and some minimal flooding. But the downed tree that Pallo seemed to stand in front of in the thumbnail for the video is not part of the video at all. It, too, was edited into the image. But Pallo’s efforts and editing prowess have netted him nearly 80,000 views as of the time of this post.
One viewer, Disney Dianne, called Pallo out, saying, “I had already unsubscribed to your channel due to your excessive drinking, but this just makes me realize I made the right choice. You should have left this room for someone who actually needed it, and taking the last paper bag lunch when you had food in your room, along with the ever present booze, just brings you to a new low. Pretty sad Kyle, you could and should do better.”
In response to the heavy criticism he received, Pallo responded generically, saying that Disney World’s Resort hotels are “literally the safest place you could be during a hurricane.”

“Tons of people’s power going out here in Orlando. This is why us locals go to Hotels! Backup generators are way safer, crazy if you don’t agree,” Pallo tweeted.

Some who learned about Pallo’s videos have called for him and vloggers like him to be banned from the parks for this behavior.

Yet another vlogger named his video “Trapped in Walt Disney World Hotel During Hurricane Ian,” though it’s clear throughout the video that he was anything but trapped as he live-streamed for two hours from his savannah view room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort. He even explains that he prefers to stay at Disney World during hurricanes, as his apartment often has “maintenance issues.”

Not trapped at Disney World, clearly.

The video enraged some viewers like @bethanyvinton, who said the vlogger was “out of touch” for referring to himself as “trapped” when he “voluntarily checked into a Deluxe Resort in Disney World during a hurricane.” She goes on to note that the vlogger “took money from people” on his live-stream, but it isn’t clear whether she was referring to monetizing the content or something else.

As of Tuesday evening, nearly a week after the hurricane wreaked havoc in the Sunshine State, the death toll stands at 109–105 in Florida and 4 in North Carolina. Thousands are now homeless thanks to the savagery of the Category 4 storm.

Photos: Hurricane Ian leaves 'historic' damage in Florida

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Also as of Tuesday evening, more than 400,000 residents in Florida were still without power, according to PowerOutage.us. Many outages remain in the hardest-hit counties of Lee and Charlotte. More than 208,000 residents with no power are in Lee County, and more than 75,000 of them are in Charlotte County. Outages continue to be a problem in Sarasota, Manatee, Collier, Hendry, Hardee, and Desoto counties as well.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!