What Are Disney Alliances?

epcot food and wine Note the outside corporate sponsorship listed on the sign

Browsing through my Facebook one day I saw an advertisement on the side, for the official Disney Alliance Facebook page. I’ll let the Facebook page speak for itself, pulling its description from under the “About” heading: “Welcome to the official Facebook Page of Disney Corporate Alliances! Learn about the latest news, promotions, and experiences our Alliance Partners help create across Disney Parks and The Walt Disney Company.”

Basically, Disney Alliances, and all of its related websites (though so far that just seems to be Facebook and Twitter), are just there to promote Disney’s corporate alliances. Those are even less fancy than they sound: they reflect any sort of partnership Disney might have with another company.

The Epcot Test Track? Reflects an alliance between Disney and General Motors. An IllumiNations show sponsored by Siemens? A Disney-Siemens alliance. Toys from “Wreck-It Ralph” are given away in Happy Meals? That means a Disney-McDonalds alliance. The computers at any official Walt Disney offices are all from HP? A partnership, or “alliance” between Disney and Hewlett-Packard.

I don’t know if those last two are actually true (though I did find a press release from 2003 talking about a corporate alliance between Disney and HP), but they’re good examples of what counts as a Disney Alliance. Their Facebook page is covered with examples, from a sidebar on the right of the “About” page listing the history of Disney Alliances (most seem to revolve around the parks), to pictures all over the front page. They promote things like the Epcot Food & Wine Festival (this year presented by Chase), the Epcot Test Track, and even pictures of lighting the parks for the holidays (apparently presented by Sylvania, as it’s their lights used in the spectacle).

The focus seems to be on the Disney Parks, though as far as I could tell by definition Disney Alliances aren’t limited to them. They just provide the best examples. The main question on my mind is, “so what?” Do we really need to know what brand of light bulbs is used in Christmas lights at the Disney Parks? Does such information really warrant a Twitter account (which, as far as I can tell, just provides the same information as the Facebook page, only with fewer pictures)?

I know businesses use social media now, but Disney really doesn’t need the extra boost of promotion a Facebook page about what brand of soap is available in Disney hotel bathrooms supposedly gives it. Does the company really need a website to talk about its corporate alliances?

Personally I feel it’s a bit strange; it makes me wonder, doesn’t Disney have enough money to host the Food & Wine Festival, or even just present an IllumiNations show by itself? The company just dropped 4.5 billion to buy Lucasfilm, but it can’t afford a lights show? Weird.

I know it’s more complicated than that. This is how corporations work. But I don’t like being reminded of the corporate aspect of Disney, and I expect many others don’t either. At least now I know what the Disney Alliances page is all about.

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*(The above image by Joe Shlabotnik is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)