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Geoff Morrell, who succeeded Disney’s long-serving corporate communications chief Zenia Mucha by stepping into the new role of chief corporate affairs officer in December, had to deal with a PR dust-up last month — his own.
Morrell flew to Florida, where he was treated to a “test ride” of Walt Disney World’s new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster at Epcot Center. He capped the experience by tweeting, “Just another day at the office,” along with a selfie from the ride. “Imagineers designed this one like no other ride you’ve ever been on,” he posted of the coaster, dubbed Cosmic Rewind and inspired by the Disney/Marvel blockbuster franchise. “Have to ride it to believe it! Check it out starting Memorial Day weekend!”
At first glance, the post seemed like run-of-the-mill corporate cheerleading; the hitch is that the anticipated attraction had not yet been formally announced. Morrell — a former executive at BP who also served the Department of Defense as press secretary for the Pentagon, where he was privy to confidential security briefings — tagged an account with the handle @EpcotCentre, a parody account with no connection to the park. Morrell deleted the tweet only to repost it minus the misplaced tag and launch date, writing simply, “Coming soon!”
Just another day at the office–got to "test ride" the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster at @WaltDisneyWorld EPCOT. Walt Disney Imagineers deigned this one like no other ride you've ever been on. Have to ride it to believe it! Coming soon! pic.twitter.com/PjSityLjUb
— Geoff Morrell (@MorrellGeoff) February 23, 2022
But eagle-eyed Disney fans, known for their intense and sometimes obsessive love of all things Mouse House, had already picked up on the snafu. User @Royalbishop009 was the first to comment on the corrected post with the original tweet and a suggestion: “Might want to just announce it already.” Morrell was not available for comment as of press time, understandable in that he’s had more pressing matters to deal with this week. Disney confirmed yesterday that the studio was hitting pause on releasing its films in Russia.
“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Turning Red from Pixar,” a Walt Disney Co. spokesperson said in a statement. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.”
A version of this story first appeared in the March 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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