March  2000
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Disney tells us the truth about UFO`s.

By Mark Pilkington

A glowing object flies across the television screen. "This is
not swamp gas. It is not a flock of birds. This is an actual
spacecraft piloted by alien intelligence - one sighting from
tens of thousands made over the last 50 years on virtually every
continent on the globe. Intelligent life from distant galaxies
is now attempting to make open contact with the human race and
tonight we'll show you the evidence."

So began Disney's hour long Alien Encounters special, aired
across America in February and March of 1995, written and
produced by Andy Thomas, a freelancer who has produced Cops and
a UFO "believer". This came soon after DisneyWorld Florida had
hosted a two week "UFO Summit", running from January 23 to
February 17, as part of the preparations for the opening of a
remodelled "New Tomorrowland". Strangely, although the summit
was organized by UFO magazine's Don Ecker and featured such
luminaries as Budd Hopkins, Clifford Stone and George Knapp,
there was no public announcement prior to the conference and no
announcements made to UFO groups or other media. That the "Alien
Encounters" show was aired so soon after the summit makes it
extremely unlikely that its purpose was to discuss the
programme's content, so this meeting and its intentions
currently remain a mystery of sorts; naturally this has had the
conspiracists ruminating furiously.

The TV special, hosted by Robert Urich (star of "Vegas") was
presented as a serious examination of the modern UFO mystery and
an expose of the U.S. government's cover-up of what it knows
about the phenomenon. It also served to promote the new "Alien
Encounters" attraction, which opens this summer at Disney World
Florida and, as far as I could make out, purports to simulate a
UFO encounter and abduction, presumably by the "Grays". What are
the motives behind this programme and the ride it is previewing?
How did Disney get involved in the murky world of UFOs? Is it
just cashing in on a phenomenon that is now attracting more
public and media attention; a subject already saturated with
magic and mystery and only too ripe for the Disney treatment? Or
is it somehow involved at a deeper level, breaking the waters
for something, or someone, else? A closer look at the programme
and, ideally, a ride on the simulation itself should give us
some clues1.

After the opening sequence the show opened with an introduction
by Disney co- chairman Michael Eisner himself, standing in front
of an official looking building, surrounded by heavily armed
paramilitary types. Saying something like "Let's take a look
inside...", he steps towards the building only to be halted by
the guards and their weapons; jokingly he says "Well, perhaps
not" and smiles conspiratorially. This ambiguous opening set the
tone well for what was to be an extremely ambiguous programme;
an intriguing mix of fact and fiction unhesitatingly presented
as hard truth.

Throughout the show Urich waved unconvincing-looking, Hollywood
style "government reports" in front of the camera and spoke
repeatedly of the government's "imminent" revelation of what it
knows about UFOs and of the "inevitable" encounters we were soon
to experience. Was he talking about the new ride? What does he,
or Disney, know that we don't? Much decent film footage was
shown; some old, some new, including the "Guardian" footage of a
landing UFO and its occupant skulking in a field. This Canadian
video actually showed a blurry model helicopter and a guy in a
bad mask. It was revealed to be a hoax in UFO Magazine
(co-sponsor of the Alien Summit at Disney World) and on Fox's
"Sightings", shown several months prior to the Alien Encounters
programme. Other footage of note was: previously unseen
(according to Urich) film of secret experimental disc-shaped
craft from the `50's and `60's, all made to look ridiculously
unflightworthy; mysterious lights zipping around over the White
House, presumably intended to be from the famous cases of 1952;
and, perhaps most interesting of all, a short scene of soldiers
turning over a ragged-looking silver disc-shaped object.

This fragment was shown more than once, in the context of the
Roswell incident and government cover-ups; it was black and
white footage, looked old and grainy and the military uniforms
looked like those used around WW2 (not that I'm an expert on the
subject, though I have seen plenty of war footage). The object
looked lightweight, easily lifted by a few men, and appeared to
be covered in torn tin foil, thus fitting descriptions made by
Roswell witnesses. At the time false rumours were being
circulated that Steven Spielberg had acquired military film
showing a crashed flying disc and alien bodies, and that he was
to use the footage in a film about Roswell and Area 51. In fact
the real story concerned a German researcher, Volker Spielberg,
and what was soon to become the infamous Santilli autopsy film.
Whether there is any sort of Disney connection between the
footage shown in the Alien Encounters programme and Santilli's
film is open to question, though the timing of the two releases
certainly coincided quite conveniently, presumably for both

Presented in Alien Encounters as proof of the government's
involvement in the UFO mystery were the hotly debated MJ-12
documents, the shaky foundations upon which so much of the
current cover-up mythology rests. During the programme no
arguments were presented against the documents' authenticity.
This is not the place to argue the pros and cons of the MJ-12
debate, save to say that there is plenty of evidence to support
both sides; to me, however, they are clearly classic
disinformation: parts of them do seem to mention real events,
whilst others are clearly faked. If the documents were
disseminated in the hope of sending the UFO community off on a
wild goose chase and discrediting those involved in the affair,
then they have proved at least partially successful. So why are
they being dredged up now by Disney?

So now that Alien Encounters has firmly established the reality
of UFOs, a context is set; a context of abduction and,
ultimately invasion. First of all we are told of bacteria and
microbes that have come to earth from space and have been
analyzed by scientists for years. At the time NASA had made no
mention of the Martian Microbes that hit the headlines in July
of this year (1996), and very few people knew of the meteorite's
existence. Is this what Disney was referring to? Urich, intercut
with scenes of hard working scientists, posited that these alien
microbes might take the form of an advanced guard, sending
information about us and our planet across the galaxies to be
picked up by whoever sent them.

So why were they sent? Budd Hopkins, interviewed next along with
some frightened abductees was here to tell us. The aliens, the
"Grays" as they are affectionately known, want our DNA, our
sperm, our ova, our blood; they retrieve these in a terrifying
manner, kidnapping us from our homes and treating us as we treat
lab rats and tagged dolphins. This is not a reassuring thing to
hear, especially from Walt Disney and the grandfatherly Budd
Hopkins. So where were John Mack, Whitley Strieber and all the
abductees who have developed meaningful relations with the
"visitors"? The people who see in them something spiritual,
transformative and beneficial to mankind. Are they just too
weird for Disney TV? Have they been duped into loving their
captors? Or do their ideas conflict with the official line? Who
are we supposed to believe here?

It seems then that Disney has the following to tell us: UFOs are
real; they are extraterrestrial spacecraft flown here by the
"Grays" who are conducting long-term genetic breeding
experiments on terrified, innocent human beings. The U.S.
government (whatever that is) has known about these beings since
at least the Roswell incident of 1947 and is about to make
public what it has kept secret since then. Talk about telling
them what they want to hear! Some of the evidence for these
claims was flimsy, such as the MJ-12 documents; some of it was
fake, such as the "Guardian"; other, new, evidence was presented
without introduction, let alone authentication. All right, so it
was a Disney programme aimed at the general public, not the UFO
buff, but why did it present the story that it did, and why did
it present it as the truth?

There could be a number of possible reasons for this. Least
worrying of these is that the whole programme was simply an
advert for the new "Alien Encounters" ride. Clearly part of it
was, they even share the same name, and moments from the ride
were shown repeatedly throughout the show. So Disney ask someone
to concoct a show about UFOs for them; this someone happens to
be an avid "believer" and isn't too discerning about their
sources or the information they uncover; they stick it all
together and, just to add flavor, make out that it's all
absolutely true. Tim Klein, senior producer for broadcast
marketing at Disney says; "The government has nothing to do with
the TV show. It`s strictly a vehicle to promote the new
attraction." So how did they get "secret" military footage?
Would the government allow Disney to show them as liars, as
having no control over an alien menace? Maybe it is going to
release its information and they thought Disney were the best
people to prepare us for it; maybe there is going to be a public
landing, as the show implies; maybe, maybe, maybe. In the two
years since the programme was aired the government has done
nothing but further deny that anything extraterrestrial happened
at Roswell; all we've had are some crummy microbes on a rock and
Independence Day.

So consider this as a less savory hypothesis, bearing in mind
that the best disinformation is supposed to contain parts of the
truth (like the MJ-12 documents). Disney wants to advertise its
new UFO ride so they turn to the government or military, amongst
others, for help. The government, or whoever is in charge of UFO
research, sees this as a great opportunity to get those pesky
researchers and UFO groups off its back by telling them that
everything they suspected was true after all. Hell, it could
then release a load of official-seeming papers, have the
ufologists jump around excitedly (having finally discovered the
truth as they wanted to hear it), and take a well earned break
from covering up whatever it is they really know- or don't, as
the case may be. The government is happy, most of the UFO
community is happy and Disney is happy because lots of people
want to go on their new ride.

Then there is the paranoid approach. Who better would there be
than Disney to create fake crashed UFO and autopsy footage,
complete with historic US president; or to stage some sort of
mass, public, UFO landing, broadcast around the world as the
real thing and causing temporary global hysteria. So the
government is "forced" to reveal all its UFO (dis)information
and so once again almost everybody is happy. For a while
everyone would stay quiet, leaving them to get on with whatever
it is they are doing. Maybe they want us to be afraid of the
aliens, maybe that suits their needs too. After all isn't their
ultimate goal just to keep us under control? And what better
control tool is there than fear? Would we still be afraid if we
knew the whole truth? Probably. There's a lot of scope for good
religion in the UFO mythos, and what better tool is there to
control the masses than fear and religion combined?

Perhaps the answer will come as a mixture of all the above.
Really all we can do is wait and see, and maybe even then we
will never know the full situation. Whatever the case, the
media's love affair with UFOs is on again; not a week goes past
without some new segment or special on our TV sets. Bill
Clinton`s proposal to declassify all government material over 25
years old may also prove interesting. I suspect that we`re going
to be seeing and hearing a lot more of our mysterious flying
friends. The truth is certainly out there, but I doubt it`s at


1 Since most of this piece was written, over a year ago, I have
spoken to a well known UFO researcher who has been on the Alien
Encounters ride; his experience bore no relation to that
reported by the majority of UFO abductees.


UFO Magazine (U.S)
UFO Magazine (U.K.)
Alien Encounters.- Disney TV Special
The Orlando Sentinel, Florida USA, May 3, 1995

  Screen Memories
Mark Pilkington


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