Disney Plans New Park in Israel

The Mouse soon to be found in unlikely locale

In what might perhaps count as further evidence of Disney's impending world domination, it revealed its plans last week to build a new 'theme park' in Haifa, Israel. True, the Haifa park isn't really a 'park' so much as it is an entertainment complex, but still it represents more expansion by Disney in tough economic times.

Relative to Disney's other global ventures, the Haifa project is small potatoes: 20-acres, $170 million. The complex will be built near the Carmel Tunnel - it'll be the first thing you'll see upon driving out of the tunnel - and will feature a 25-screen multiplex and an amusement park. The estimated completion date is 2013, giving Disney plenty of time to amend its plans which now focus more on the multiplex than on the amusement park.

Like it or not, Disney is a symbol for Western culture and Israel, unfortunately, is a magnet for those who wish to destroy Western culture. Putting a Disney park in Haifa, a large city in northern Israel that in the past has been the target of missiles launched from beyond the nearby Lebanese border, is a gutsy move.

The Mickey Mouse Fatwa

I remember the furor raised several years ago when Saudi scholar Muhammad Al-Munajid condemned the mouse as a 'repulsive, corrupting creature' under Islamic law, and that popular symbols of the mouse - such as Mickey Mouse - undermine those teachings. Al-Munajid reputedly issued a fatwa (religious opinion) against Mickey Mouse.

When asked whether he did, in fact, do such a foolish thing, al-Munajid deftly parried with "I did not issue a fatwa to kill Mickey Mouse", perhaps unaware that killing Mickey Mouse is impossible since technically it's intellectual property, not an actual rodent. (Al-Munajid still refuses comment on reports that he once issued a delicious plum sauce for Donald Duck.)

Parks on Other Planets?

Disney's other big global project, of course, is the much-larger theme park (a real theme park, this time) it plans to build in Shanghai, China, by 2014. The up-side of that park is huge. If China's economy continues to grow, and if its new middle class continue to build disposable income, the potential exists for hordes of visitors to Disney Shanghai - provided, of course, Disney can make its culture relevant to the Chinese, virtually all of whom lack our multi-generational nostalgia and enthusiasm for the Mouse.

Alexander the Great built cities in the lands he conquered and named them after himself. His empire didn't last too long. I don't think we have to worry about the empire of Mickey the Mouse collapsing quite so fast - just the opposite, in fact, and I predict right here, right now, that when we finally colonize Mars the children of those brave colonists will beg their parents to take them to Disney Mars.

Don't stop there! More Tidings Await...

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