As Walt Disney World deals with the death of a 4-year-old boy on its Mission: Space ride, marketing experts were divided on what message the theme park should send its customers concerning the tragedy.
Walt Disney Co. has said little about Daudi Bamuwamye's unexplained death at Epcot on Monday. The company expressed concern for the child's family while continuing to operate the popular ride during what for Disney World is the busiest time of the year.
Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said the company hasn't been actively promoting the ride, so it doesn't have to decide whether to alter its advertising campaign. She said the theme park's current promotional campaign, the Happiest Celebration on Earth, centers on other rides.
"With an incident of this nature, we would pull our advertising," Prunty said, "but we are focused on the Happiest Celebration on Earth and newer attractions associated with it. There isn't a lot of advertising in the market associated with Mission: Space."
Adam Hanft, chief executive of the Hanft Unlimited marketing firm in New York, was critical of Disney's public reaction.
"The company's traditional position is probably to withhold judgment until the facts are in," said Hanft, who specializes in issues related to corporate brands. "I think they should do just the opposite. I would shut the ride down."