Every time I try to have a serious discussion about the slow but steady de-American-ization of Disney World it leads to locked or deleted threads. I'll try again, maybe I'll get some "on topic" responses this time from people who want to discus reality.
My Disney history: Been going to D.W. since 2000, my wife since the early 90's. We also lived in Celebration for three years from 2005 to 2008. In that time period we have hundreds of park visits under our belt. When we lived in Celebration we were at Disney at least three times a week, not to mention Universal and Sea World.
Here's my issue: Once 9/11 hit and the British tourist stopped flying over, and the American people were also too afraid to fly, Disney's attendance dropped off severely. Then later the recession hits -also affecting American attendance at the parks. To counter this Disney started a marketing blitz in South America to bring tourist in from there because their economies were growing stronger as ours languished in recession. Since about 2002 we have seen a steady but sure increase in the number of park visitors from Latin America, which at first was a not too noticeable, but is now overwhelming.
On our last vacation to Disney a couple of weeks back we could not believe the amount of Hispanic/Latin people in the parks. It was literally about 80% of the park guests. Nobody speaks English and all we heard at every turn was nothing but Spanish being spoken. There was no place to get a five minute break from it. Combine that with the fact that 75% of Disney's workforce on the ground is now Hispanic/Latin -and it makes for a very unpleasant and un-American experience at what was once an icon of Americana. It was even worse over at Universal at probably about 85 to 90%.
At one point I grabbed an American looking cast member and attempted to have an off-the-record conversation with him about the situation. To my surprise he was quite open and honest in speaking with me. I could sense his frustration as well. He explained that because of the currency exchange rate their money goes about twice as far as our U.S. dollar does now, so a Disney or Orlando vacation is quite affordable to working class Latin Americans. He also went on to explain that visas and passports have become much easier to obtain. In closing I asked him if there was a better time of year to come for vacation that we wouldn't feel like foreigners in our Country, his response was : "no, it's now like this all year round".
As an example of my frustration... One night on our recent vacation we walked around Downtown Disney and literally 4 of the 6 live bands they had playing in various spots were playing Latin music, and I just asked myself "what is going on here, where am I?" They now have three Hispanic/Latin eateries in there as well. I remember when the T-Rex restaurant first opened years ago and they were blaring Latin music on the P.A. as you walked by, so I asked to speak with the manager and had a simple question for him : How does Latin music tie in with the restaurant theme of per-historic dinosaurs??? He had no answer for me.
I'm sure many of you remember the promotional videos that played on the Disney TV stations in your guest rooms over the years, and if you think back they always had very perky "All American" actors in them, then a few years back they decided to switch to a more Hispanic/Latin looking host and she has been in the videos ever since (at least as of two weeks ago when we were there). No to mention all Disney promotional material like TV commercials, mailings, and their website prominently feature Latin/Hispanic people in place of "Americans" like they used to have in them for the 30 years prior to 9/11.
How subversive is all this? It's really disgusting the blatant greed of the Disney company and what they will do all in the name of shareholder profits. They have slowly destroyed this place over the past 11 years. Somehow I don't think this was Walt's dream. I'm just asking readers out there to think about this stuff. It's not a matter of being "racist" or anything like that, it's about loosing another American icon to greed and political correctness (because we don't dare speak of these things aloud- oh my!). My problem with all of this is that when I'm spending thousands of dollars for a Disney vacation it's quite disturbing to me that I go there and I'm made to feel like I'm foreigner in my own Country. Maybe occasional visitors who haven't been going there as often or as long as we have don't notice this change (although I don't know how you couldn't), but we remember pre-9/11 and it was nothing like it is now.
What was once a very "magical" place that took you away to another world when you walked in the gates now feels like you walked into a third-world flea market, and that's a damn shame.