The upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy and Tron rollercoasters are just two projects in the pipeline at Disney World that could be delayed if employees who are protesting the company’s response to Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill get their way.
Protesters have asked the company to halt donations to politicians involved in the passage of the bill, such as Gov. Ron DeSantis – but they also want Disney to stop all ‘construction and investment in the state of Florida’ until the bill is repealed.
The legislation, officially called the ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill and expected to go into effect in July, would ban classroom lessons on sexuality, gender identity and sexual orientation ‘in a manner that is not age appropriate.’
Critics say the open-ended language, which also prevents ‘classroom discussion’ of the topics, would prevent children from confiding in teachers if they feel unsafe because of their identity.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, says the bill’s aim is to ’empower parents’ in their children’s education, and make teachers recognize the distinction between ‘instruction’ and ‘discussion.’
Disney employees have called out the company for not taking a stronger stance against the legislation. On Monday, CEO Bob Chapek said it was a ‘mistake’ to not take a stand against the bill earlier.
He also promised to put together a task force to create more LGBTQ content for children.
Despite these concessions, employees still took part in a company-wide walkout on Tuesday. About 60 employees gathered in a park outside Los Angeles, Reuters reports, and dozens of other employees walked out of their jobs at the company’s studio in Burbank.
The Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is set to open this summer at Disney World’s EPCOT park, Disney says. The Tron Lightcycle/Run ride does not yet have an opening date, though the park says it has now started testing the ride vehicles on the tracks.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is set to open this summer at Disney World’s EPCOT park near Orlando, Florida. Above, a promotional poster for the project
A planned Tron Lightcycle/Run ride does not yet have an opening date, but the company says ride vehicles are currently being tested. It is set to open in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland
Dozens of employees marched outside of Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, California on Tuesday as part of a full day of walkouts across the company’s theme parks and offices in protest of the company’s slow response to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Protest organizers are calling for an end to all ‘construction and investment in the state of Florida until hateful legislation is repealed’
What is the Parental Rights in Education bill?
HB 1557 was introduced by two Republican members of the Florida Legislature – Representative Joe Harding and Senator Dennis Baxley.
They say the bill’s aim is to ’empower parents’ in their children’s education, and make teachers recognize the distinction between ‘instruction’ and ‘discussion.’
‘What we’re prohibiting is instructing them in a specific direction,’ Baxley said about how teachers lead students in a classroom.
‘Students can talk about whatever they want to bring up, but sometimes the right answer is, ”You really ought to talk to your parents about that.”’
The bill applies to children in kindergarten through third grade.
It states that ‘classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur.’
It also requires districts to ‘adopt procedures for notifying a student’s parent if there is a change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being,’ something LGBTQ advocates argue could lead to students being outed to their parents without the student’s knowledge or consent.
It was passed on March 8 in a 22-17 vote. The state House had approved the bill late last month. DeSantis has said he will sign it into law. It will come into effect on July 1.
Cosmic Rewind will be Disney’s first-ever ‘reverse launch’ coaster. It will also rotate riders in their cars as they race down the track.
According to the company: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a family-friendly adventure, featuring a totally new type of roller coaster experience we’re developing just for this attraction – it’s a storycoaster that rotates 360 degrees so you’re always focused on all the action as you help the Guardians save the galaxy.’
The semi-enclosed Tron ride is a version of the Lightcycle Power Run ride that opened in 2016 in Shanghai Disneyland, according to the Disney theme park blog Inside the Magic.
It will operate in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland section.
‘This coaster-style attraction will allow riders to board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles for a thrilling race through the digital frontier,’ the company says.
The ride was first announced in 2017 and construction began in 2018, though it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Inside the Magic.
Both rollercoasters are based on the films of the same names.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, will hit theaters in 2023.
Along with the two rollercoasters, recent construction permits applied for by Disney show more projects at Magic Kingdom Drive to be built by New Horizon Construction Services.
It is unclear what the projects will be – though the addresses listed are used by the Gaston’s Tavern and Be Our Guest eateries at the parks.
Disney who are protesting the company’s response to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill are calling for an end to ‘construction and investment’ until the bill is repealed.
In a statement on March 11, CEO Bob Chapek said Disney needed to use its influence to ‘promote’ inclusive stories and added that the company would ‘combat similar legislation in other states.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek told employees during a virtual town hall that he regretted not taking a public stance against Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and that the company will create a task force to focus on more LGBTQ content
Disney has reportedly reinstated a gay kiss in its upcoming Toy Story spinoff amid the criticism. Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba), a character in the film Lightyear, has a relationship with another female character in the film
What do Disney protesters want?
Disney employees protesting the Mouse’s response to the ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill want the company to:
1. Stop campaign donations to politicians involved in the creation of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
2. Halt all ‘construction and investment’ in Florida until the bill is repealed
3. Stop relocating employees to Florida, along with a guarantee that they won’t be fired if they refuse to go
4. Reaffirm its commitment to protecting LGBTQ staff
5. Contribute ‘substantially’ to the Trevor Project and other human rights advocacy groups
6. Create more LGBTQ content
7. Create a brand focused solely on LGBTQ creators
Going further on Monday, Chapek said Disney would put together a task force overseen by film executive Paul Roeder and Disney Parks marketing executive Lisa Becket. The task force would be in charge of making sure that more LGBTQ-awareness content is available for children.
Last week, reports emerged that Disney was reinstating a kissing scene between two women in the upcoming ‘Toy Story’ spinoff, ‘Lightyear’ – after Pixar employees accused the parent company of cutting gay characters from films.
Pixar employees published an open letter this month alleging that ‘nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.’
Since then, protests and walkouts have built up within the company.
On Tuesday, dozens of employees marched outside of Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, California chanting, ‘Say Gay!’ as part of a full day of walkouts across the company’s theme parks and offices.
Others gathered at a park in Glendale with signs reading, ‘#DisneySayTrans’ and ‘Disney oppose Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.’
Outside Walt Disney World’s property near Orlando, Disney employee Nicholas Maldonado was a lone protester Tuesday, wearing a rainbow flag and holding a sign reading, ‘Trans rights are human rights’ and ‘#DisneyDoBetter.’
‘Where was Chapek when the bill was introduced?’ said Maldonado, who had a day off from his merchandising job at an Orlando Disney store and, while disappointed with Chapek´s initial response, said he felt Disney´s leaders were beginning to hear the concerns of the company´s workers.
In a Tuesday Facebook post, Disney wrote that the company opposes ‘any legislation that infringes on basic human rights’ and stands ‘in solidarity’ with LGBTQ employees ‘who make their voices heard today and every day.’
Disney employee Tiffany Cooper holds a sign to protest the company’s stance on LGBTQ issues in Glendale, California on Tuesday
Employees, gathered at Griffith Park, held signs reading, ‘#DisneySayTrans’ and ‘Disney oppose Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill’
Disney employee Nicholas Maldonado holds a sign while protesting outside of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday
A half-dozen Disney workers gathered Tuesday morning at an Orlando LGBTQ center to write letters in support of queer students. ‘You’re Amazing. You Matter and We Care’ and ‘It Gets Better,’ they read, next to a drawing of a rainbow.
‘We are creators, and we felt that we could be creative and productive and write letters of encouragement to LGBTQ youth,’ said Gabe, a Walt Disney World product development manager who didn´t want his last name used for fear of having his privacy invaded.
In Burbank, employees marched outside the company’s studios.
‘We had a great group out here just to show our support for our queer employees and their families,’ said Nora Rogers, a production supervisor at Walt Disney Animation Studios.