Sometimes The Happiest Place on Earth is home to the saddest stories. This was the case earlier this month when a Southern California principal died by suicide at Disneyland Resort.
Around 9:40 p.m. on December 3, authorities were called to the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure after a 50-year-old man reportedly jumped from the garage. Parking Trams stopped operating, and Disney Park Guests were directed away from the parking garage. Authorities investigating the scene said the death appeared to be a suicide.
The man was later identified as Chris Christensen, an elementary school principal at Fountain Valley School District in Southern California. According to the district, Christensen had recently been promoted to principal of Newland Elementary School for the 2022 to 2023 school year.
Christensen shared a public message on Facebook late Saturday night. He explained that he recently had a disagreement with his wife in which the police were called, and he said that he was put on administrative leave from his job until the case was resolved. Christensen leaves behind his wife, Marlena, and multiple children.
Though most Disney Parks fans were devastated at the news, a few acted disrespectfully in the wake of the incident. Magically Consumed, a YouTube channel hosted by a couple of Disneyland influencers, made jokes about the death while walking through a Disneyland Resort Parking Structure this weekend.
Erik and Charlene, who run the channel, quickly deleted the video after backlash. A clip was later shared on TikTok by @_disney._stuff_:
As the couple discusses their car being at the end of the parking garage, they joke about “ending it” in the garage. “We don’t have service back there anyways; it’ll die,” they say, referencing their stream and seemingly making a joke about Christensen’s death.
Charlene then points the camera over the edge of a garage wall, making an “Ooooh” sound while Erik says, “Don’t jump. No jumping.” They both laugh.
“Might as well jump, jump,” Erik then sings (a song by Van Halen). Charlene joins in. The clip ends.
Hundreds of fans commented on their “disgust” with the video. “They really had the nerve,” @viiic06 wrote.
“That’s awful and so disrespectful,” said @jessica.bevilacqua. Some Disney fans called for the couple to be banned from Disney Parks altogether.
The next day, Erik and Charlene commented on their ill-timed jokes in a live stream. They didn’t apologize and said they didn’t expect people to make a connection between their jokes and Christensen’s death. They also attributed the jokes to ongoing issues with their camera equipment.
Erik and Charlene have continued to live stream and accept donations from fans while visiting Disneyland Resort, a highly controversial practice among Disney Park fans. Many hope the United States Disney Parks will follow Tokyo Disney Resort’s lead and place strict guidelines around vlogging and streaming or, better yet, ban it altogether.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to connect with a counselor or visit the official NSPL site.