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COLUMN

Happytown

This week, we race for the merch booth on Rick Scott's rhubarb reinvention tour, hide in your backyard (because you don't want us in your backyard) on the municipal redistricting tour and adjust our baby monitors to the "controversy" frequency at Disney. We are everywhere.

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If you think that Florida’s transformation into an Empire of Evil began with the last election cycle, think again. After the Disney brand planted itself into the state’s swampy muck in 1971, it expanded into, as Roy Disney explained it, a “rapacious, soulless [company] always looking for the quick buck.” The reputation of our state, as a result, has been reinforced as a cultural vacuum where only rip-off schemes and retirees can thrive. We know what you’re thinking, fair-minded reader: but first, hear the story of once-aspiring Altamonte screenwriter Royce Mathew (disneylawsuit.com), or better yet, consider the Clermont couple sued by Disney in July 2008 for a million dollars for the sin of wearing Winnie the Pooh and Tigger costumeswithout the company’s permission.

Still, nefariousness at the highest echelons of the Magic Kingdom does get boring after a while, so we do like to report the more down-to-earth, proletarian evils that happen there from time to time. Take the incident late last month in which a baby monitor was found surreptitiously placed in the shelving of a break room at the Fort Wilderness Resort, with the receiving end spotted in a manager’s office, on a window sill, tucked hastily behind the blinds. The employee who told Happytown about the incident wanted to remain anonymous – as would anybody in their right mind who works for Disney – but pictures sent to the Weekly of the said baby monitor, as well as a call to Disney spokeswoman Zoraya Suarez, confirmed the incident.

Suarez tells Happytown that the Disney manager was not fired because she was only channeling the audio from a breakroom television – which displays the dinner show going on in the resort’s Pioneer Hall – into her office so as to keep tabs on the performance, and certainly not, as our source claims, to spy on employees. The employee, however, says that the television has no audio whatsoever. Dare we even ask whom to believe?

Alas, after Babymonitorgate, the more vanilla evil returned to the fore, as another anonymous source recently clued us in that one of the 10 people arrested on July 18 by Orange County cops in a teen sex trafficking sting was a housekeeper who worked at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Suarez confirmed that tip as well, but reminded Happytown that the Disney empire is vast, and hence, not easy to manage. “We do have 62,000 cast members,” she says. “It’s like running a city.

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