I've long disliked the Disney experience. In fact, when I think of Disney, my mind conjures up such memories as:
– Endless lines of screaming kids and stressed out parents broiling under Florida's Vietnam jungle-like humidity.
– Outrageous a la carte pricing for items ranging from Mickey and Minnie rain ponchos to $25 Goofy burgers.
– A bully of a brand that crushes competitors and mistreats agencies.
So, I must say enjoyed reading about Disney's total bungling of a brand new exhibit at Epcot Center called Habit Heroes. The now closed education exhibit was created in collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Its intent: to teach kids healthy eating habits. So far, so good.
But, then, Disney's Imagineers took a wrong turn that would have made even Davey Crockett scratch his head in wonder. They populated the Habit Heroes exhibit with the likes of:
– Snacker, a zaftig fairy, who eats too much fatty, processed food.
– Glutton, a bean-bag shaped mob figure. – And, Lead Bottom, whose name speaks for itself.
These obese, bad guys do battle with the fit, muscular Will Power and Callie Stenics. And, get this, the kids visiting Epcot Center are encouraged to use arcade guns to shoot vegetables at the cream puffs and hot dogs surrounding Snacker, Glutton and Lead Bottom.
All of which has outraged various academics and family advocate groups who see the new exhibit as no different than the grammar and high school bullies who belittle America's obese young people (who now account for a staggering 17 percent of the total). The experts also point to the record numbers of teens who, unable to match the body-perfect images of Will Power and Callie Stenics, find themselves battling eating disorders, ranging from anorexia to bulimia.
Worst of all are the mixed messages being sent by Disney. Just a few feet away from the Habit Heroes Education exhibit lay a vast array of fast food stands, selling hyper-priced hot dogs, funnel cakes and cotton candy.
One wonders what the late, great Walt Disney would make of his 'do as we say not as we do’ theme parks and businesses? Would he simply shrug his shoulders at the mixed messages and continue to whistle while he worked? I don't think so. I think Walt would admit fault, make immediate changes and, in doing so, quote another artist, Will Shakespeare, who wrote, 'The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.'
(And a tip o' RepMan's mouse-eared cap to Greg Schmalz for this idea.)