The Walt Disney World Resort is a cultural mainstay in the United States. One would be hard-pressed to find a Disney fan who disagrees. The Disney Resort is such an icon until very recently, it was under its own special self-governing district. While the dissolution of Reedy Creek has taken over headlines and news for weeks now, with constant backs and forths between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. In the latest, Disney has been criticized for becoming “too woke” and most recently, seemingly clapped back at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with it’s latest move. But what about Walt Disney World makes the Resort as culturally relevant as it has become?
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat linked Walt Disney World to a few main themes, arguing strongly that the spirit of America lives on in Walt Disney World. Douthat calls out the efficiency and attention to detail that characterizes the Parks. He shares, “There’s no stagnation and decay, no unfashionable eyesores, no dissonance between the care taken with one era or style versus another.”
Douthat also highlights the criticism “about how America struggles to build things, struggles to make use of our human capital and talents, letting our infrastructure decay while new projects are mummified in bureaucratic tape. ” He posits that this struggle isn’t seen at Walt Disney World.
Douthat even insists, “The spirit of the Apollo program lives on in the Avatar Flight of Passage simulation.” The genius in America that put men on the moon, the “crowning example of genius operating under decadent conditions” Douthat shares, is seen at Walt Disney World.
And this importance of Walt Disney World and Disney at large is corroborated in its numbers, its reach, and in the significance and power that the brand of the Walt Disney Company has, be that in the identities and cultures it represents or in the sheer range of how far-reaching its influence can be. The Disney Parks are one of the few businesses that still posted a profit even last year.
However, one aspect of the Disney experience that many Disney Fanatics have expressed frustration at didn’t escape the analyst’s notice. Disney Genie with Genie+ and Lightning Lane. What Douthat considers a symbol of meritocracy, even he explained how frustrating the system was and “the reality of that system’s complexity, the demands it places on even the tech-savvy parkgoer to watch and maneuver and strike when the opportunity presents itself .”
With the number of eyes on Disney at the moment, and the criticism swung its way for the decisions it’s made over the last few years, it’s entirely justified to question why one entertainment company (although admittedly massive in its scope) is the center of this much attention. But perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the Disney experience resonates with a very deep and intrinsic part of what it means to be American.
More on the Disney Parks
The Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort (with Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park) are the domestic Disney Parks that are some of the most popular Disney vacation spots in the world. There are also other international Disney Resorts—Tokyo Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris (with Parks like Walt Disney Studios Park) which encapsulate the Disney experience.