No, Wuhan Isn’t Getting a Disney Theme Park. Probably.
Despite what you might have read this past weekend, The Walt Disney Company isn’t building a new theme park in Wuhan, China. Probably.
Okay, we don’t think there is, but that’s because of a confusing couple of news cycles.
Someone working for the government in Wuhan actually claimed this was happening, only to get shut down.
Here’s what we know about a weird story that legitimately doesn’t pass the laugh test.
Wuhan Claims Disney Is Coming Soon
Here’s the first line from a story published on Yahoo! Finance:
“The city of Wuhan in central China said on Saturday its commerce bureau has started initial talks with Walt Disney Co for the U.S. firm to start a project in the city.”
I don’t know about you, but my jaw fell to the floor when I read that the first time.
When I started this article, I was on the phone with a fellow reporter who aptly stated, “That’d be like putting a Disney theme park at Hiroshima.”
I would have said Chernobyl instead, but the idea is the same.
For those of you scratching your heads and trying to remember how you know Wuhan, it’s the city that became ground zero for COVID-19.
We won’t get into the specifics of how the pandemic started, as scientific debate continues.
But we do know that Wuhan officials handled the epidemic poorly.
Generally, “triggering a plague” isn’t high on the list of reasons why a (non-healthcare) company would start a business in your city.
That statement applies even more to family-friendly businesses like theme parks…and especially Disney.
So, when people read that article this past weekend, we had questions. Lots and lots of questions.
After all, Yahoo! Finance isn’t some fly-by-night publication. Also, their source was airtight.
The city of Wuhan apparently stated its intent on WeChat, although officials provided no additional details regarding negotiations.
You can think of this behavior as your local city council posting on Instagram that they’re hosting a Taylor Swift concert. It’d be news to Taylor Swift.
Still, anyone can do this as long as they have the login information for the social media account.
No, Wuhan Isn’t Getting a Disney Theme Park
I mention that specific example because there’s a real chance that’s exactly what happened.
The following day, Reuters dismissed the previous Yahoo! News report as incorrect.
That story starts with this:
“A report on Saturday that the Chinese city of Wuhan was in talks with Walt Disney Co over a potential project was fake, Chinese official media said, citing the company.”
In other words, some other reporter thought to do what nobody in the first story had. They asked Disney about the matter.
Nobody from The Mouse had any idea why Wuhan officials had said that and immediately refuted the report.
Those of you who read MickeyBlog frequently may feel a sense of déjà vu over this.
Just last week, we published this article. In it, I discussed the weird circumstances that occurred in Malakka, Malaysia.
That story unfolded almost precisely like this one with Wuhan!
At the time, Datuk Muhammad Jailani Khamis, chairman of the Melaka State Heritage and Culture Committee, claimed that Disney was coming soon.
Kota Melaka is a city (also called Malakka City) in the state of Malakka in Malaysia.
You’d think someone who worked for the city there would be among the first to know about a Disney theme park…but there wasn’t one.
CNN dismissed the story as “fake news” almost immediately afterward.
So, that’s the second time recently that an Asian public official has misspoken about a Disney park.
The Wuhan report seems particularly absurd as the city already tried but failed with a theme park: Wanda Movie Park. It lasted 19 months!
What’s Happening Here?
This oddity will supercharge speculation that some locales are trying to entice Disney to build a theme park in their area.
The reason why is understandable. Hong Kong officials just published data suggesting that the city hosts 2.9 million monthly tourists.
Before COVID-19, more than 60 million guests annually visited Hong Kong, with the Disney theme park taking a significant portion of the credit.
Other populous regions seek the same tourism boost and are trying to persuade Disney to build.
So, while Wuhan and Malakka, Malaysia are farther apart than Disneyland to Walt Disney World, the premise remains the same.
Asian countries know that Disney wants a bigger tourism footprint in the Eastern Hemisphere.
They’re all competing for Mickey Mouse, but some of them are going about it the wrong way, by which I mean terribly.
I legitimately have no idea how the same massive mistake happens twice in six months, but here we are.
Is there any smoke to this fire? Who knows. But the same thing happening twice in such a short timeframe seems…odd.
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