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Behold, the Disney Metaverse

The metaverse is happening. In fact, it’s already here. Good luck getting anyone to define what it is, exactly. Maybe it’s some all-virtual world. Maybe it’s a series of APIs meant to carry your digital self from one platform to another, with no single owner. Maybe it’s a distraction from all of Facebook’s — excuse me, Meta’s — problems, be they ethical, moral, or legal.

The “metaverse” as it stands today means whatever the hell you want it to. And on October 28 — when Mark Zuckerberg announced the next generation of Facebook and then went full-steam ahead on making the metaverse a thing — CEOs the world over collectively said something along the lines of the following. (See Exhibits A, B, C, D and E, for starters.)

“Metaverse, eh? We should get in on that. Make it happen.”

The Walt Disney Co. is no exception. And in a true “How do you do, fellow kids” moment, CEO Bob Chapek put the speechwriters to work ahead of the company’s (fiscal) fourth-quarter and year-end earnings call on November 10. The mission? The metaverse, and making it a thing that Disney is going to do. Or is already doing. Or will one day have been doing all this time now in the future.

Disney+ Day in Paris.
The Walt Disney Co.

Disney already has a metaverse. It just didn’t seem to realize it.

The operative line from Chapek’s remarks is ridiculously close to something you’d hear in the latest season of Succession. It’s classic word salad. Kudos to whoever wrote it.

Said Chapek: “Suffice it to say our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries, in our own Disney metaverse.”

The thing is, Chapek isn’t wrong. Disney is uniquely positioned — and well-funded — to tie all of its properties into whatever the hell a metaverse is. (Which I’d argue is different from the Metaverse, at least in the way Zuck is trying to use the term. Probably.) You could argue it’s already done so, at least in a certain stage of infancy. Some of that is purely from a superficial standpoint of product. Take Star Wars, for example. It’s movies, and TV series, and books, and theme parks. And drinking glasses and Christmas ornaments and … Rinse and repeat for Marvel. Or Mickey. You get the idea.

The point is that in the sense that the “metaverse” is a made-up thing that means whatever it is you want it to mean, Disney already is there. And it has been for some time now. And it’s actually kind of funny, when you think about it, that Disney let the likes of Zuckerberg coin the phrase, given that all he’s done is start a website to scrape university data to meet girls, sell ads, and make it easy to spread misinformation on a global scale. And he did so in less than two decades.

Disney hasn’t even aided in a single coup, let alone play a part in multiple global catastrophes.

It does have fossil-fuel-based cruise ships, though. So there’s that.

And it also has its own sort of metaverse. Now it just has to do something with it.

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