There’s a viral video currently making its way around TikTok.
And at the time of this writing, it’s garnered more than 2.8 million views – and counting.
“Disney’s Animal Kingdom may be closing permanently. Rumors have just started swirling that Animal Kingdom will close in 2024. Disney would celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2023 and then close it. This is due to high costs and low revenue with it being the least visited Disney Park,” the video states.
But is there any truth to the claim?
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Is Animal Kingdom closing in 2024?
No, Animal Kingdom is not closing in 2024. Nor is there any major park closure in store for Disney World in the foreseeable future.
The TikTok video, which can be viewed here, is just another viral hit from a new Disney-themed parody site called The Mouse Trap.
If the name of the company itself isn’t a big enough tip-off to the average reader or viewer, let us clue you in.
The Mouse Trap isn’t a real news site. It’s a satire site.
It’s basically like a Disney-themed The Onion.
And after launching just a few months ago in the summer of 2022, the site is rapidly growing in popularity.
Other viral satirical pieces posted by The Mouse Trap include:
- Hurricane Ian Destroys EPCOT Ball
- Cinderella Castle Being Demolished
- Disney Lowering Drinking Age to 18
- Breaking: Disney Birds Aren’t Real
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Are parody news accounts legal?
Look, I’m no lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
See what I did there? That’s supposed to be a joke.
And in the United States, jokes, parodies and satire are considered to be creative expressions protected by the First Amendment.
That’s not to say that these sites are free to do whatever they please. They still need to abide by Libel Law and Fair Use guidelines (laid out in the 17 U.S. Code § 107) which pertain to reusing original copyrighted work to create their fictional pieces.
But as a whole, yes parody is perfectly legal.
Plus, The Mouse Trap makes its satirical intent pretty clear through disclaimers that are clearly posted on its TikTok profile as well as all over its website.
So what does The Walt Disney Company think of satirical content about their company? Who knows. I would assume they aren’t thrilled, per se.
But is it legal? Yes! At least as far as I can tell.
But that doesn’t stop real news outlets from picking up the stories
But here’s the weird part – only half of us appear to be in on the joke.
In fact, a quick glance through the comment section of their videos reveals a surprising number of people that seem to think the outlandish headlines are real.
And some of their craziest headlines such as “Disney Files Patent for Roller Coaster That Jumps Track” have even been picked up by local TV stations, as recently seen on Fox 32 Chicago.
Jimmy Fallon also picked up the coaster story, which aired on “The Tonight Show.” But instead of making fun of the local news station, Fallon simply made jokes about the Fox 32 segment, as if it were real.
This is a strange world we are living in.
As easy as it would be to place blame on The Mouse Trap for spreading fictitious news, the blame really falls on the gullible.
Well, I guess the gullible and the lazy. Because if there’s one stakeholder in this entire situation that irritates me – it’s any “trained” media professional who doesn’t bother to check their facts.
Are parody sites good for real media outlets?
Surprisingly … yes.
Both creating satirical content and debunking it can be a lucrative business.
It generates curiosity, which generates conversation, which generates Google search queries – which is probably exactly how you found this article in the first place.
And anyone with an ad-monetized website – from The Mouse Trap to USA Today to HeyOrlando – will make a few bucks for talking about it.
In fact, sites like Snopes.com have based their entire business model on the art of debunking.
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The key takeaway
With all of that said, I still think it is important for individuals to learn to know the difference between fictional news, satire and real reporting.
Remember, you can’t believe everything you see on social media.
So bravo to you, dear reader, for taking the time to Google the story and practice your critical thinking skills. Skills that, sadly, many in society today seem to be sorely lacking.
And remember, for official information about Walt Disney World, always go directly to the source.
Have YOU seen The Mouse Trap’s viral videos on TikTok? Let us know in the comments below.