First off, let me defend the sources that have made WDWNT.com what it is today. These individuals, within various departments of the Disney Company, believed in this site. They believe in unfiltered, honest news about the Disney corporation and the direction it is heading in. These people took the risk of losing their jobs to empower an outlet that would fight for quality that sometimes is lost in the corporate machine. They are passionate fans who were not paid for information, but rather just wanted to share (sometimes exciting, sometime infuriating) news with others who had that same passion. For those who say these “rumors” rarely pan out, I’ve compiled a list of stories broken first here at WDWNT.com, and then confirmed by Disney. It may seem petty, and it probably is, but I think it’s easier to get the whole picture with visible, hard evidence. Here are just a few:
Let’s look at what WDWNT.com is beyond these “rumor” posts…
We are the site that started maintenance reports for the U.S. Disney Parks when it became noticeable that conditions in many attractions and such were becoming much worse. The outpouring of support and the numbers of readers these pieces had on a weekly basis was staggering. Honestly, one of the greatest moment of my life was seeing Brer Bear’s tail restored to Splash Mountain just two weeks after the list began, a thing that had been missing from the ride since I was just a kid. You can hear my joy (embarrassingly I admit) in the video below:
Don’t worry, these reports are coming back soon…
WDWNT.com is the site that organized a walkthrough and dessert party inside of The Great Movie Ride just two days before it closed forever. This was put together after D23’s event registration closed in seconds, leaving many fans without a proper way to say goodbye to the attraction, a classic ride that they had been given less than a month’s notice was even closing. Disney did absolutely nothing to celebrate the history of Disney’s Hollywood Studios for its 30th anniversary, while we reunited Imagineers who created the park to talk about their work in front of guests. We also reunited the Adventurer’s Club for a special beach party for their 30th birthday.
I have never publicized this, but both those events were hosted at a financial loss to WDWNT.com. We didn’t put them on to make money. We put them on to do the right thing by fans since Disney seemingly refused to.
In more recent weeks, Disney denied the creative forces behind IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth the opportunity to do an official special event celebrating the end of the show. Those individuals who created this nighttime spectacular, which has enchanted the World Showcase Lagoon for 20 years and made Disney a ton of money, weren’t even offered a paid-dinner, nor space to view the final performance. When we heard about this, I offered to take host their finale dinner party and reserved viewing space on September 30th because it felt like the right thing to do. Disney went and sold a line of merchandise commemorating the end of the show and put billboards all over town to squeeze the last few cents out of it.
All of these events listed above (as well as our annual marathon show on Thanksgiving weekend) also played a role in raising over $50,000 for various charity organizations like Give Kids the World, Toys for Tots, and Ryman Arts, all amassed over the 12 years WDWNT has been around.
Those who claim that I only care about clicks and ad revenue do not have the whole picture. Those who also think I would jeopardize the reputation of this site (which I worked tirelessly with this team to build over the last 12 years) by posting unfounded rumors should probably re-examine such thoughts. Who on earth would throw away a passion project that evolved into a real company? Why would I jeopardize a dream job for a short-sighted monetary gain?
I am heartbroken that the Public Relations teams inside the Walt Disney Company have decided it best to slander a fan site that has shown such passion. A fan site that has complied to every requested story correction, rewording, or anything of that sort over these 12 years as well.
I love Disney. I love what the brand stands for. I love its incredible history. I love when they continue to push boundaries with new offerings like Pandora: The World of Avatar or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I also don’t love some things. I don’t love Toy Story Land. I don’t love Pixar Pier. I don’t love going to Japan and seeing how much better maintained the attractions are, knowing it is possible that it be done in every Disney Park that the Disney Company operates. I don’t love them withholding the closures of classic attractions to fit their needs and to suppress the ability of the public to speak out against them. It is certainly no secret that I don’t care for them telling their approved media outlets what they can and cannot say.
I have said what I felt I needed to. You’ll only read this side here because Disney won’t let any other site tell you any of this. By the way, how many of those sites have reported on the Country Bear Jamboree closure rumors yet?
I can understand not believing a fan site over The Walt Disney Company, it sounds pretty preposterous, but then again, so do a lot of the scenarios listed above.
WDWNT.com is not changing course, we are not buckling to any pressure, and we will not relent. It isn’t easy to be publicly scrutinized by thousands of people (as you can imagine), but I believe in what we are fighting for. We will continue to try to save The Country Bear Jamboree, we will continue to have fun speculating the future of the Disney theme parks, because that’s what fans do, and we will continue to care (possibly even to a fault) about this thing we all love so much.