Coronavirus / MLS / Union

Disney isn’t Florida

Photo credit: Earl Gardner

Here in reality, Florida’s COVID-19 situation is only getting worse. And it’s absolutely appropriate to point out that is, in part, due to a complete failure to appropriately respond to the pandemic at the state and federal level. As a result there’s been some reasonable concern about the health and well-being of Union players, coaches, and staff, as well as for the rest of the league.

Lucky for them (and us), the MLS is Back Tournament isn’t taking place in reality. It’s in Disney World, an entertainment-industrial complex that’s entire purpose is to put those inside of it as far from reality as possible. Normally this is achieved through high production-value theming and costumed characters, as well as a stack of family-friendly amusement rides. But in troubled times, they’re capable of quite a bit more.

Throughout Florida Disney World is known for how well it prepares for and responds to tropical weather. While the rest of the state barely prepares for anything less than a Category 3 hurricane, Disney World has earned a reputation for safely, effectively getting customers out of their park or helping them shelter in place through the duration of a storm. They do it with a level of preparedness and commitment of resources that seems extravagant, but is simply consistent with the way Disney does everything in their parks.

The generous interpretation is that this is because Disney is a “good” company. Maybe they are, despite their monopolistic media intentions. But there is also no denying that the Disney company realizes that delivering a superlative experience, regardless of variables beyond their control, is what’s expected of them. The park’s image, and therefore continued success, relies on people only ever having a positive experience in their parks. So Disney recognizes that no cost is too high to pay in order to maintain that image.

COVID-19 is no different, in that regard, from a hurricane. Disney can’t control the pandemic, and they can’t stop it from making people worried. But what they can do is make sure people only ever have nice things to say about the park. So while Florida governor Ron DeSantis has consistently avoided scientific facts while trying to explain his state’s upturn in confirmed cases, Disney has been consistent. They’re doing everything they can to keep MLS (and NBA) players safe while they’re in the Magic Kingdom. They’re establishing new best-practices to house, transport, feed, and entertain players. They’re going to Because while their regular customer base may not be able to tell Chicharito from Jack de Vries, they’ll remember if a disease outbreak is in any way associated with Disney.

Of course none of this means the MLS is Back tournament will be 100% coronavirus-free. The reality is that nothing is going to be 100% coronavirus-free any time soon. But the players, and those of us who care about the players, should take comfort in the fact that they’ve got one of the biggest corporate behemoths working to make them as safe as any of us can be at the moment.


  1. Disney parks operate with the equally beautiful and horrifying efficiency of a communist state. Love it Jim.

    • Tim Jones says:

      Point of historical fact, since I did pay some attention to the old Soviet Union in order to teach about it several decades ago.
      Central planning — Gosplan is the acronym for the state planning agency — was grossly inefficient. The propaganda claims otherwise were outright lies.
      To illustrate, by law every item produced in the old USSR had to have a tag on it that told you on what day of the month your item had been produced. You wanted items made in the middle of the month because they were less likely to be shoddy than items from the beginning, when everybody was hung over from celebrating fulfillment of the previous months planning target. And you didn’t want it from the end of the month when everybody was frantically rushing to met that month’s production target.
      Numbers produced mattered. Quality did not.
      The Russian winter hat I bought as a tourist there in the summer of 1985 still has that tag, although you can no longer read it easily. And I got the tag’s explanation from one of our tour’s guides.

      • I specifically didn’t mention the old Soviet Union. I mentioned “a communist state” thinking more of China’s ability to lock down millions in hours or the Khmer Rouge’s ability to systematically kill millions while retraining their youth to spy own their own family and neighbors. Though Stalin was quite adept at killing his own and the same can be said of China’s reeducation camps during the early revolution and now with the Uyghur. The ability to control so many people so completely is fascinating but what is done to said people is genuinely nightmare inducing.

      • Good point, my error. I was born in 1949 and grew up near a SAC bomber dispersal base in the 50s, so I am conditioned towards the USSR as the dominant example.

      • Of course all of the above of whatever variation are descended in their techniques from Imperial Germany after the resignation of the civilian chancellor in late 1916 (Bethmann-Hollweg, October ??) when the Army took over running the country.
        I have read that he takeover is the real origin of 20th century “totalitarianism,” and whenI read it years ago I was convinced by the argument. Three names most closely associated with the phenomenon are Hindenburg the Commander in chief, Ludendorff his chief of staff, and Walther Rathenau the economic planner. Imperial Germany started “planned economies” back then.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    The problem is that even if the players/staff/officials are confined to Disney properties, are the people maintaining those properties (hotel staff, security, etc.) also confined? If they are not, you still run the risk that they go out and interact with others unsafely and bring the virus into Disney before they start displaying symptoms.

    • I would not doubt that Disney has the resources to test a portion of employees serving MLS, daily. Joe Rogan was testing all his guests mid pandemic. They’d get the results in less than an hour. I want to say it was a little as 15-20 minutes but I don’t remember. Rogan said the cost was $200 a pop. I have no doubt it could be done.

    • Jim O'Leary says:

      They won’t be confined. But we have reason to believe that Disney will be doing everything possible to avoid that becoming an issue. They’re opening the parks a few days after the tournament starts, they literally cannot afford the bad press of someone working the front desk Orlando Pride-ing the entire MLS (or NBA).

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

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