Disney's Latest 'Welcome Home' Ad Draws Criticism on Twitter Amid Pandemic Concerns

Unfortunately for the Happiest Place on Earth, a new ad welcoming guests back to their home away from home for Walt Disney World's reopening drew mixed reaction from Twitter users--including those who criticized the park's reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cast members are ready to welcome guests back to Walt Disney World Resort.✨ pic.twitter.com/KHwFMTRqfF

— Disney Parks Jobs (@disneyparksjobs) July 11, 2020

The ad released on the Disney Parks Jobs Twitter account shows cast members throughout Disney World parks and resorts greeting guests by saying "Welcome home," while wearing face masks. The clips are interspersed with attractions and rides from the park such as Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life and a parade in front of Cinderella's Castle. The ad ends with a stormtrooper from Star Wars putting his own spin on the greeting. "Welcome, citizens," he says.

"Cast members are ready to welcome guests back to Walt Disney World Resort," the company wrote in the tweet.

While Disney seemingly intended for the video to warmly greet guests who can finally return to the Orlando, Florida attraction, which was previously closed since March, some people on Twitter found the ad more eerie than welcoming.

NPR's It's Been A Minute host Sam Sanders said it was the "scariest thing" he'd seen in weeks. In another tweet, he likened it to a movie from Get Out director Jordan Peele.

Dystopian horror-thrillers were a popular comparison on Twitter. Some users likened the video to the sci-fi series Black Mirror. The ad also was mentioned in the same breath with Jurassic Park.

This is the scariest thing I’ve seen in weeks https://t.co/cHInJbdDau

— Sam Sanders (@samsanders) July 11, 2020

how is this video real? how is it not a teaser trailer for a deeply foreboding dystopian thriller? https://t.co/Qi2RzxqmAE

— Julia Wick (@sherlyholmes) July 11, 2020

If you’d told me this was a trailer for Black Mirror season 6...I’d have believed you. https://t.co/hm0QjlZUtN

— Revolutionary Girl Chaka 🌹 (@princessology) July 11, 2020

Close the damn parks, Disney. https://t.co/PGkKBW9F7z pic.twitter.com/TzBicgaIhb

— Mathew Buck (@FB_BMB) July 11, 2020

Some people made jokes at the park's expense. One user said that it was "america's [sic] plagueground," and another riffed that it was "The Coughiest Place on Earth!"

Washington Post reporter Gene Park shared a GIF of people carrying a coffin saying that it was the latest ride from the park. Another person made a joke about Donald Duck being taken off a ventilator.

the latest ride https://t.co/6CMXDQ0yef pic.twitter.com/Wepme9Hata

— Gene Park (@GenePark) July 11, 2020

I've just received horrible news that Donald Duck has been taken off his ventilator at the request of his loved ones. Please send the family your support in this difficult time. https://t.co/qmCkKUZtIs

— proper fuckt innit? (@branflakeassMAN) July 11, 2020

Many people also expressed sympathy for the Disney employees who would be returning to work in the midst of the pandemic. Other people criticized the video and the parks for reopening, saying that it would likely continue the virus' spread.

One person wrote that it did seem out of place for Disney to acknowledge the pandemic despite working hard to curate experiences in the park blocking out the outside world.

Working class employees risking their health AND being forced to smile about it pretty much sums up our current moment 👇🏽 https://t.co/T8yFvogttU

— Ayan Chatterjee (@goayango) July 11, 2020

This sucks, and a lot of people are very likely going to get sick, and many of them will die. https://t.co/8g7hU5dL34

— Gennifer Hutchison (@GennHutchison) July 11, 2020

Given how carefully Disney curates the experience in its parks - literally building a wall around the outside to block the outside world and so on - it’s weirdly jarring to see such a stark reminder of the massive, deadly pandemic. https://t.co/KIZlFqgKie

— James O'Malley (@Psythor) July 11, 2020

Some others simply declined the welcome respectfully, saying they would return to the park when it seemed safer.

I will be waiting untill 2022 to come now when it will be safer for me to do so, untill then I'm wishing on my star

— #winning@life 🦅🇺🇸🎧🎵🎙🍒👄🌈⚢🍸🛫🇬🇧🇪🇸♿🌻🦩 (@1_SpoonAtATime) July 11, 2020

Disney did not respond to Newsweek's emailed request for comment in time for publication.

As previously reported, Disney World reopened the park to guests on Saturday, despite Florida reporting over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases for the third time this week.

On Tuesday, the Disney Parks released a blog by Dr. Pamela Hymel, the parks' chief medical officer, with steps the park was taking to ensure guests' safety. Safety measures included reduced capacity, temperature checks, increased disinfecting, new cast member training and more.

Disney world
A view of the Walt Disney World theme park entrance on July 11, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The theme park reopened despite a surge in new COVID-19 infections throughout Florida, including the central part of the state where Orlando is located. Octavio Jones/Getty