Are Disney Right For Adding Trump To The Hall Of Presidents?

Once the shock had worn off when it was officially announced that Trump was to be the next President of the United States (I know, I can still hardly believe it myself) many of us enthusiasts suddenly had the same thought: oh crap, this bastard is going to be immortalised in the Hall of Presidents at Disney World! Many of us took to Twitter to register our realisation and there was much discussion about whether Disney would actually do it or not. Would they seriously bring to life via the medium of their much loved audio animatronics the man who has caused so much upset and outrage, possibly the most hated President-Elect there has ever been?

Well today this was tweeted, confirming that Disney are currently undergoing procedures to add an animatronic-Trump to the honourable Hall of President line up:

And thus the debate begins: are Disney right in doing this? So I thought I'd explore that a little bit today.

So firstly, let's take the blunt approach: the ride is called The Hall of Presidents. Trump (for our sins) will be President, so it makes sense that he joins the line-up. There have been hated and disliked Presidents before him included such as Richard Nixon and more recently George W. Bush. And a major part of doing things 'the American Way' is all about freedom of speech, and surely choosing not to include Trump silences the majority of Americans who voted for him?

Further, it would arguably be more controversial not to include him. Refusing to add Trump to the Presidential line-up would send out an extremely strong political message and would hint at which side of the democratic fence Disney chooses to stand with. Although a Republican candidate, the inclusion of Trump in the line-up can be defended as less a stand with him and more as a continuing of tradition, since 1971, of adding EVERY President regardless of party affiliation. As it says on that very famous plaque as one enters the park: 'Disneyland is YOUR land'. Disney is a place for everyone, and a choice not to include Trump would just serve to divide and alienate half of the country - and that would be VERY un-Disneylike.

And on the other side of that coin, I turn to the plaque again, only this time with a focus on the words 'joy' and 'inspiration'. Whilst it is important in Disney philosophy to respect the memories of the past and continue tradition, as the addition of the Trump animatronic most definitely will, I feel it would be incredibly inconsiderate to ignore the sadness and fear that a Trump-lead government strikes into the hearts of the other half of the country that did not vote for him. And indeed those opposed to him all around the world. A man so intent on preaching hate, inciting division and promoting disrespect in the very worst ways has no place in the Happiest Place on Earth. Disneyland to me represents what is good about the world, it celebrates America's triumphs and is probably the most literal representation of that oh so wonderful American Dream. A dream that is on offer to all those who wish to pursue it. And Trump does not represent those things in the slightest.

Further, theme parks in general, not just Disney, are places of escapism. Many of us choose to spend our days wandering around these curiously themed lands of adventure looking to get away from the harsh realities of the real world. To enter an attraction at a Disney park to be faced with a fully animated likeness of Trump is a surefire way to bring you crashing back down to reality if there ever was one. His brand essence and key messages are so thorough and insidious that just a glimpse of his face implies hatred and prejudice - both of which do not belong past the gates of the Magic Kingdom.

But then the cynic in me pipes up and suggests that the arrogance of Disney installing this offensive animatronic and not addressing everything it represents is probably the most Disney way of doing things. The company has been criticised so much in the past of brushing over the problems of the real world and pretending everything is all smiles and rainbows, and this is no different. Yes, the questions and the outrage will be there, but just as t-shirts with offensive slogans and selfie-sticks must be left at the door it could also be argued that for the full Disney experience politics must be left there too. The Hall of Presidents is an idealistic look at the events of the past that shaped America, and, love him or hate him, there's no arguing that Trump's upcoming stint at the White House will definitely do that.

Talk later xoxo,