Addressing the internet rumors
A viral video on TikTok gained millions of views and made claims that Disney’s park Animal Kingdom in Orlando would be closing in 2024 due to high costs and low revenue. Could it be true?
A viral video claimed that Animal Kingdom would be closing at Disney World. The video came from a satirical site called The Mouse Trap. While fake news sites are popular and meant just for entertainment, their stories can sometimes be picked up by real news sites.
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So is Animal Kingdom closing?
No, Animal Kingdom is not closing in 2024. The TikTok video was simply another viral hit from a new Disney-themed parody site called The Mouse Trap, which isn’t a real news site. It’s a satire site best described as 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.
Are parody news accounts legal?
Look, I’m no lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. 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 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.
Why some real news outlets pick up the stories
But here’s the weird part – only some people appear to be in on the joke. A glance through the comment section of their videos reveals a surprising number of people who seem to think the outlandish headlines are real. Also, 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 seen on Fox 32 Chicago.
As easy as it would be to place blame on The Mouse Trap for spreading fictitious news, the blame 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.
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 lacking. And remember, for official information about Walt Disney World, always go directly to the source.
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