Indie theme park films cast Disney, SeaWorld in poor light

Films could face legal action from both parks


ORLANDO, Fla. – Where is the "Happiest Place on Earth?" Not in Disney's legal offices.

A new independent film, called "Escape From Tomorrow", that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last weekend features scenes inside Disney's parks that critique the park's corporate image and were filmed without permission on several Disney rides.

The movie tells the story of a father who spends the day at the park with his two children, until he learns that he is fired from his job and begins to go insane inside the park.

The filmmaker, Randy Moore, shot the black-and-white film inside Walt Disney World and Disneyland, using footage from eight rides. He calls the film a "post-modern fairytale." It includes images of evil animatronic figures, a scene involving a Taser and even a bloody death.

"I intended to make this film with a few close friends, a very small budget and this is what happened," Moore said.

Disney hasn't issued a statement yet, but they're not the only theme park facing this issue. SeaWorld Orlando is under pressure from another film that debuted at Sundance called Blackfish, about the deaths of SeaWorld trainers, including Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

The director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, says she made the film to highlight SeaWorld's mistreatment of killer whales.

"The incident of the trainer being killed by the killer whale shocked me, it took me by surprise," Cowperthwaite said. "I had a question and I wanted it answered: Why did a top SeaWorld trainer come to be killed in a marine park after 16 years of experience?"

Read more about the conflict on Local 6's Theme World blog.