An interesting part of Disney history might be circling around for Shanghai Disneyland in a very strange way. Just after the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government distributed thousands of gas masks around the country in fear of chemical warfare from the Germans.
Adult gas masks were considered too scary looking for children (in addition to being too heavy). The Walt Disney Company was commissioned to design gas masks that would fit children’s heads and also appeal to them.
There are a handful of these masks still floating around today, even though there were only around one thousand produced by the Sun Rubber Company. Today, a few museums have them as well as the Walt Disney Archives in California. As luck would have it, there might be a need for Mickey-shaped face masks again when Shanghai Disneyland opens in summer 2016.
As many of you know, China’s air pollution problems are nothing new. According to a story published by the Huffington Post, around 4,400 people die per day of complications due to health issues caused by the country’s polluted air. That’s roughly 1.6 million people every year. A staggering number to be sure and indeed there are days where the air quality around Shanghai Disneyland is bad enough where masks are recommended.
The question is, what will Disney do when it comes to their Cast Members who work in outdoor positions at Shanghai Disneyland? Here you have a company known for putting on a good wholesome show for their millions of visitors. They are one of the strictest when it comes to dress code and the “Disney look” in how their employees present themselves in a fantasy kingdom. No doubt, air pollution masks on days that are smog heavy might be the right thing to do for employee health. On the other hand, it sure isn’t a Disney friendly look, so what to do?
Here is the slippery slope Disney faces. Let’s say they do allow air pollution masks as part of the Shanghai Disneyland “Disney Look” and all outdoor positions may wear one if they so choose on bad air quality days. Then it is time for an outdoor stage show with face characters. Do Anna and Elsa get to wear masks? I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. Therefore, how do you justify letting the person selling popcorn wear a mask and not a performer on a parade float? Your thoughts?
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Images Copyright: Walt Disney Company and Unknown Sources