Who We Really Are at WDWNT.com – A Statement from Tom Corless

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As you probably are aware, the Disney Parks Blog decided to “debunk” a rumor yesterday by referring to this site as an “unscrupulous source”. Needless to say, there has been a lot of ill-will thrown in the direction of WDWNT.com since then, so I wanted to take a few moments to calmly and rationally look at the situation. Whatever your standing may be, I certainly hope you take the time to read what I have to say.

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:

Certainly, some rumors don’t pan out, as is the case sometimes with things not announced yet by the company, but those are few and far between in our reporting history. Many like to bring up the Lord of the Rings themed-land, Tower of Terror bar (which we even then reported was cancelled before anyone else), and a 5th park for Walt Disney World when trying to hurt our credibility. There are certainly more, but it doesn’t reach the volume above. As for the Tiki Room/Moana rumor, I will let that simmer until further information is available. That horse has already been beaten to death at this point. Regardless, I think there’s a bit of a disparity between what gets confirmed and what doesn’t.

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.

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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Ron Patterson
Guest
Ron Patterson

You guys do a great job, and I love the rumors, don’t let the SJW get to you, not everyone will agree, but you guys bring real news, in a time were reports and investigation is dead in the new, keep pressing on, keep bringing up the rumors and the news, bring us the reviews and the pricing……you guys are the best

Self Reflection
Guest
Self Reflection

I’m sure it’s reassuring to the site and author that the first comment to offer support also finds a way to throw out well thought out criticism like “SJW”. Nothing let’s the everyone know they’ve properly explained a difficult situation like a disjointed, unnecessary rant.

ChrisofOi
Guest
ChrisofOi

Remind me again what an “SJW” has to do with this?

David Hooper
Guest
David Hooper

I’ve never posted here before or any other blog or news sites, but I just wanted to say thank you for all the hard work. I’ve visited this site off and on for years now and I have always considered this a very reputable and professional site. I believe in everything you do and I enjoy reading the rumors, updates and general Disney goodness that you write on.

SJames
Guest
SJames

I completely agree! I read this site every day and look forward to the honest reviews and information, often times before Disney even announces it officially. living in Louisiana I wish so often that I was closer to attend the awesome events you plan; it’s still a goal of mine! I truly appreciate your sentiments and how important it is to you to preserve what walt founded the company on, not just for ourselves but for future generations. continue the great work!

carol olsen
Guest
carol olsen

I disagree as a shareholder and I love all Disney and I trust the company I think you should like step back go worry about something else for a while. let them do their job it’s not your job to sit there and worry and investigate things that are inone of your business. If you’re a true fan as you say you are you would leave it alone and worry about McDonald’s or somebody else

Kathy M
Guest
Kathy M

I am and will continue to be a fan of your website. You have provided countless tips on what to expect when we plan our trips. I thank you for that.
I also believe that Disney went over the top, not in a good way, about the reported rumors. Seems it would have been better to talk to you about what they saw as “fake news” (how I have grown to hate that phrase).
Keep up the great work. I appreciate it very much.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

I haven’t been a reader for that long, but have greatly enjoyed all of the photo updates, stories, rumors, and other content that you deliver daily. Disney may not like the secrets you spill, but for Disney fans it’s nice to have some inside access.

erider
Guest
erider

You clearly stated the Tiki Room article as a rumor. Rumors sometimes turn into reality and sometimes they don’t. I don’t think you have to apologize when a rumor gets debunked. It happens. I appreciate all the rumors and I trust they are coming from a good source. Keep up the good work, this is the number 1 site I go to regarding WDW news and rumors.

Linda Honrath
Guest
Linda Honrath

Well said Tom

John
Guest
John

Tom, you do an excellent job with this site and your record speaks for itself. While I’m glad that Disney took the effort to quash the rumor, calling your efforts unscrupulous was uncalled for. What was even more interesting, from a PR point of view, were the other rumors that they carefully danced around. That tells you that you’re onto something. A good journalist knows that not all stories wind up being true, but at least you pursue them. Keep up the good work.

Jarrett
Guest
Jarrett

Very well said, it is unfortunate you had to put this statement out. Most wdwnt fans know this already, but it’s convenient to have a list to refer to when we defend you and this site. It is frustrating to read others/trolls/haters tweets just blasting you for their own “need for attention”. I have you and wdwnt’s notifications set bc I want to know every bit of news the second it’s tweeted or published. The people who also have their notifications set just to post hateful idiotic things the moment you say something should be the biggest testament to the… Read more »

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

This is the only site I trust for Disney news. The Disney Parks Blog page seemed to shift focus about 3 years ago and I’ve disliked it since. When someone asks me a question about Disney, WDWNT is the first place I go. I play the music from the site practically all day at work and I leave the page open and constantly refresh it. This team puts a lot of work and effort to make sure all Disney fans have the most up to date information available. Thank you for everyone on the staff for all that you do.… Read more »

Emma
Guest
Emma

Can’t believe how much backlash you’re facing. I trust this site fully, and no recent events have changed that at all!

Diane D.
Guest
Diane D.

Love you guys. This was the first site I started following. The one I always read and watch to see what’s going on at Disney. Keep up everything all you guys are doing. Your fans love it and you. Hope to see you around the star wars opening in August. Always a fan of wdwnt!!!

Nicole
Guest
Nicole

This is my favorite Disney fan site for news, reviews, rumors and everything in between. Please keep doing what you’re doing and know that true fans appreciate you and your hard work!!!

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Nicely said! Thank you for all the reports and disney park walkthroughs!! Oh and please save the country bears!! Disney is to toy story heavy as it is! Thank you

Bridget (Weide) Brooks
Guest
Bridget (Weide) Brooks

Thank you for what you do! As the owner of a fan site that has been similarly dismissed and disparaged by its target organization, I emphathize and support you. Some people don’t understand the passion piece of it — the number of hours you’ll put in because you love the organization and want to see it succeed. You advocate for the fans, and we thank you for it!

Art
Guest
Art

I’ve always defended this site as being very reliable with rumors, despite the narrative otherwise. I read your work multiple times a day. I have to say though, your reaction to the Parks Blog post yesterday doesn’t come off great. I thought the Parks Blog was having some fun with it and answering in the style of the Tiki room. Vaguely insulting and silly. I feel like you’re overreacting a bit to it. I get that you feel like your credibility is being attacked by Disney, since it frequently is by others. But getting upset by them calling you unscrupulous… Read more »

Emma
Guest
Emma

I imagine Tom’s reaction is so strong because this isn’t just a playful jibe from Disney, rather a slap in the face from a PR team that he’s maintained a positive relationship with over the years. And this was right on the heels of WDWNT getting some very unnecessary shade spontaneously thrown at them by that Mickey Views News kiddo.

Ray Chase
Guest
Ray Chase

When you clearly say RUMOR in the headline of a “rumor” I don’t understand why people get upset……

I’ve enjoyed the site for years. Keep up the great work!

RGman
Guest
RGman

Well said. You do a fantastic job and yes sometimes the info is not true but most of the time it is. Like you said they have been mum on Country Bears. Keep your head held high and ignore the trolls and naysayers. Walt did.

Austin Ray
Guest
Austin Ray

Well said!

DisneyFan
Guest
DisneyFan

Keep doing what you do! Love WDWNT!

Brian Yesutis
Guest
Brian Yesutis

Your site does exactly what I want it to and what I want it to be. I can only go to Disney every 2 years. This site is the only one that makes me feel I am actually still there. The detail and care you put into every story, food review and video is truly appreciated. I want transparency. I want your honest opinions. I am not good with putting my feelings into words, but damn I love this site and I love what it does. The maintenance report is the bold and honest thing I have any site put… Read more »

Tom S
Guest
Tom S

Yeah I’ve been seeing a lot of people hating on you guys recently- on reddit see some other “social media influencers” taking jabs. It is what it is. I still visit the sight and will continue to watch some streams & youtube/read other blogs- a bunch of them do seem to play it really safe and seem afraid of their standing with Disney in that regard. A lot of your stuff is spot on and way more up to date. Plus- If you can’t report on rumors, I mean whats the point? Don’t need to see them all do their… Read more »