Disney's Shocking Response to the Orlando Shooting
Disney has a long-running history of keeping the magic in and the real world out. In fact, even in times when Disney has had to respond to tragedies, such as September 11th, it has often done so silently and without reference to the actual event. All of this has been in accordance with the principle of "good show," or maintaining the fairy tale charm the park is known for.
However, following the attacks in Orlando, Florida, on June 12th, the park was put in a unique position. Not only had this attack been significantly closer to home, but it was later disclosed to be a close alternative for where the attack could have taken place.
Perhaps that is why, on June 18th, they chose to break their own rule against “unauthorized events, demonstrations, or speeches” within park property. Instead, upon hearing that four locals were planning to hold an open vigil after that night's “Kiss Goodnight” ceremony, the company shocked the community by not just approving the only organized event to ever be held on park grounds, but by going above and beyond to make the vigil safe and special with a touch of Disney magic.
As can be seen in the recording below, Disney did more than simply approving the ceremony, and actually helped the event to run as smoothly as possible. Ultimately, the ceremony of friends and community members was joined by security, and any on-duty cast members who requested to attend. After the "Kiss Goodnight," Disney even went as far as to mute the nearby area music for a moment of reverent silence. Attendees and cast members, alike, held candles and glow sticks in remembrance of the lives lost, with many held in "Harry Potter" fashion, in homage to Luis Vielma, 22, who had worked in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the nearby Universal Studios resort.
The generally forgotten ceremony is incredibly moving that evening. Thousands crowd the castle for the short show. “Until we see you again, have a safe trip home…” wishes the speaker as the ceremony draws to a close, atop a choir rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star." The double-meaning resonates, as the park drifts into a still silence.
While this was already enough to make history, Disney had yet to spread their magic on the ceremony. As attendees were making their way out of the park for the evening, many were stopped by Cast Members, who had arranged to hand out special pins in honor of the vigil. The two pins, below, were given to guests as they passed through the train station, toward the park gates, on their way home.
While this ceremony was still technically "unofficial," in that it was not organized by Disney Parks & Resorts, Disney broke tradition in the most unexpected way, creating a magical experience for those effected by the events at Pulse.
So why haven't you heard about this? Because, in a world where companies will bend over backward for good PR, Disney was never concerned with the publicity of it all, but instead with the people. That is one statement that we can stand behind.