China Shows Disney Who’s Boss…

TK Kurikawa /
TK Kurikawa /

When we talk about nations with strict rules, few come to mind more often than China. As you may have guessed, the COVID-19 pandemic has only made that more apparent. Now, to be clear, as it is not only the proven origin of the rampant virus but also one of the world’s more populous countries, it no doubt had to take some precautions that many other nations did not.

However, don’t for a second think it is simply the love of the people and their nation that had driven such tactics. Instead, it seems to be far more about the amount of power and control they have over, well, anything and everything.

And this week, they proved that even worldwide organizations like Disney are no match for the communist regime of China.

As you well know, Disney has expanded over the years to include theme parks on pretty much every continent. And Shanghai’s Disneyland is one of the largest in the world, occupying no less than 963 acres of land in mainland China.

Like all of the company’s other theme parks, Halloween weekend hosted massive Halloween celebrations, including costume parties, fireworks, and endlessly long lines for just about everything. But on Sunday, October 31, the “happiest place on earth” became a prison of sorts, as the entire park was shut down, locking nearly 34,000 people inside.

That’s right. Over 33,000 individuals were literally locked inside the theme park gates on Sunday after discovering that COVID had been found on the premises.

To be perfectly clear, this was not a massive outbreak or anything. In fact, it was just one paltry case.

As it turns out, a woman from the Jiangxi province had arrived at Shanghai Disneyland on Saturday, taking the train to visit. As The Wall Street Journal reported, it wasn’t until she was on her way home on Sunday that she was notified that she had been exposed to the virus. At the very next train stop, she was taken directly from the train station to the hospital, where she was immediately tested and found to be COVID positive.

And immediately, the government shut down Disneyland and locked its gates. Anyone and everyone who was in attendance that day had to be tested and proven negative for them to be released.

Out of the 33,000 some odd guests in the park on Sunday, not a one, minus the woman from Jiangxi province, tested positive. However, they were all ordered to still self-quarantine for at least 24 hours after leaving the park and then get another test just to be sure.

As for the park, it was shut down until Wednesday, allowing staff to also be tested and make sure that all rides, shopping centers, hotels, and restaurants could be cleaned to eliminate any COVID contamination.

Let’s just say, the company no doubt lost millions during those few days. But as a Disney spokesman had to admit, the decision wasn’t really up to them.

Part of this is because Disney, with only 43 percent of the shares in the Shanghai park, is only a minority shareholder, giving the majority shareholder, in this case, the communist government of China, the final say on pretty much everything.

As the spokesman said, Disney was all but forced to “comply with China’s local protocols,” no matter how much they would lose or how dangerous the potential threat of COVID was.

Now, if you are anything like me, you’re likely thinking this reaction is a bit extreme, especially since it turned out to only be one positive COVID case out of nearly 34,000. However, as CNN reports, this is actually “quite mild” regarding China’s reaction to the virus.

While pretty much everywhere else on earth has begun to reopen its doors and borders, returning to at least some hint of normal life, China still remains on the very cusp of complete lockdown.

Sure, theme parks like Disney are open again, and for most of the nation’s businesses, the same can be said. But the borders are still closed. Local authorities are still ordered to do extensive tracking of all COVID cases. And quarantines are enforced rather strictly.

Apparently, they are still under the impression that COVID can be completely eradicated. Or at least that’s the story they are spinning. But with more and more countries realizing it is endemic like the flu, it’s hard to see their extreme control measures as anything but a simple power grab.

I know, who would have thought?