Pete Werner, a longtime Disney theme park and travel commentator who owned the fan site The DIS and the Dreams Unlimited Travel agency, is leaving his companies after ex-employees accused him of sexual assault and abusive behavior.
Before those allegations came to light, Werner was known for being part of the first wave of Disney-focused influencers, thanks to his website (WDWInfo.com, aka The DIS) message board (DISBoards.com), podcasts (including “The DIS Unplugged”), and the aforementioned travel agency. His commentary on the company and Disney-related travel has been featured by CNN and The Washington Post.
Editor’s Note: The rest of this article contains some graphic descriptions of alleged sexual assaults.
What are the allegations against Pete Werner?
The sexual assault claims came in a series of posts made on a gossip forum Tattle.life. That message board has plenty of detractors, being called “the most toxic place on the internet” by The New Statesman in 2021 for encouraging harassment of women on social media. The posts regarding Werner, however, have been backed by several other former employees.
One set of allegations came from Dustin West, who worked on “The DIS Unplugged” from 2011 to 2015.
In a series of Tattle.life posts beginning in mid-July 2023, West described how after being hired to a full-time position as The DIS’ director of video and new media, Werner admitted he had romantic feelings for West. Later, during a trip to London, West was sharing a room with Werner “to help reduce the costs,” which West admitted made him uncomfortable because of Werner’s claim that the two were in an “emotional relationship.”
After going to bed one night, West said in a July 17 post, “I woke up groggy to this man on his knees, next to my bed, reaching under my sheets and touching me inappropriately. I didn’t know what to do, so I pretended to be asleep, shake him off me, and roll over into the opposite direction. I was now wide awake in the bed, pretending to be asleep. I think realized he almost got caught. He went back to his bed. I never mentioned this encounter to him ever again.”
West, who is now married to a woman, added that “shame, guilt, and the desire to hide this friendship/emotional relationship/relationship was what fueled everything.”
On a May 2013 trip, he said he woke up to Werner performing oral sex on him. “This time, out of fear of repercussions, I agreed in my drunken state,” West said. “I just wanted to go back to bed and not be in an argument.” In an Aug. 2 post, West further alleged that Werner had drugged him during this incident and “the first several times we were physical.”
Sean Faulk, a frequent commentator of “The DIS Unplugged” podcast who co-founded a real estate venture with Werner called Moving to Orlando, had posted first on Tattle.life alleging an abusive relationship with Werner. Faulk said he first began seeing Werner when working as a prostitute and Werner was a frequent customer. He felt pressured to become Werner’s boyfriend and said he was showered with lavish gifts — including DVC contracts and cars — that served to keep him under Werner’s control.
“When I disobeyed, he stopped paying and fired me, which would leave me with all the debts,” Faulk said in a November 2022 post. “Of course, these things were put in my name with the promise that he would pay them.”
After the relationship ended, Faulk said he went on a work trip where Werner “threatened me if I refused to sleep with him” and then proposed to Faulk, which Faulk turned down.
“Next thing I knew I was back in the hotel room with Pete on top of me,” Faulk said in a July 22 post. “It was like I blinked and suddenly I was just gone. I kicked him off me and went to the bathroom and was sick all night and just locked myself in the bathroom and slept on the floor so I wouldn’t have to deal with him.”
Supported by other ex-employees
After Faulk and West’s stories were posted, other employees came out in support of the alleged victims.
Charles Boda posted on the Werner-owned DISBoards.com on Aug. 2 that Werner had admitted to drugging and sexually assaulting West. “Pete is a narcissistic sexual predator who controls everyone he knows, friends, family, employees, by getting them on his payroll somehow and using his money to exert power over them,” Boda said. He also asked for forgiveness for not speaking out about Werner’s supposed confession earlier. (Faulk, for gis
JeniLynn Knopp, a former DIS panelist who now works for The Walt Disney Company as a production manager, said in a series of Instagram posts that she was “devastated by the claims” and called Werner a “narcissist.”
Tyler Crouch, another former DIS employee who now co-operates The Kingdom Report YouTube channel, called Werner “an abusive boss” in an Aug. 2 Twitter thread.
I’m going to come clean. I worked for The DIS for almost 2 years. What follows is all alleged. It was a shit show. Pete Werner was an abusive boss. He constantly judged you for your work. Demanded you work over 40 hours a week. And pitted co-workers against one another.
— Attraction Faction (@AttractFaction) August 3, 2023
Response from The DIS and Dreams Unlimited Travel
The first official response to the assault claims came from Corey Martin, president of The DIS, on July 28. In a post on DISBoards.com, Martin said, “The recent allegations have deeply impacted us all. We are facing a challenging and sensitive situation that has left many of us in shock and disbelief. As a team, we are doing our best to navigate and process this new information while also striving to continue with our work responsibilities to the best of our abilities.”
Martin’s statement also criticized negativity towards The DIS based on the allegations. “It is important to acknowledge that these allegations have resulted in unwarranted attacks on some of us and our families online,” he said. “Such behavior is unacceptable, and I urge everyone to treat each other with respect and empathy during this difficult time. It is crucial to remember that each team member not involved in the situation deserves the space to process and cope without undue interference.”
The same day, current “DIS Unplugged” panelist Ryno Clavin, said in a livestream on YouTube that he was “heartbroken” by the allegations. “I feel like a bad friend…I didn’t know and I didn’t see the stuff that maybe I should’ve seen.”
On Aug. 2, John Magi, co-owner of Dream Unlimited Travels and a former partner of Werner, announced on The DIS that Werner had resigned from both The DIS and the travel agency and his ownership interest “is currently being divested.”
In a separate statement on DISBoards.com, Magi said he could not comment on the allegations, but like Martin, criticized the reaction from fans.
“We have always been nice, friendly and respectful to everyone we have met,” Magi said. “The vitriol and hatred coming our way is uncalled for and disturbing. Just because my response wasn’t fast enough for some people you have decided that it’s appropriate to hide behind an anonymous screen name and post whatever you like. You have created false narratives and fabricated stories without knowing the first thing about us.”
Martin posted a second statement on DISBoards.com on Aug. 3.
“While I have been a part of the DIS since 2001, I must admit that I was not made aware of the specific allegations that led to these recent events,” he said. “However, over the years, I have witnessed and verbally disagreed with many things that I found concerning. I deeply regret not taking more action at that time, and I want to acknowledge that this is a crucial moment for us to address these issues head-on. Again, I only recently heard about these horrific stories as the victims are sharing them publicly for the first time and have said many times they did not share them with us members of the team.”
Knopp, the former DIS panelist who now works for Disney, called the official statements, “at best, tone-deaf and, at worst, an attempt to redirect blame” in an Aug. 3 Instagram post.
View this post on Instagram
Magi did not respond to a request for comment from Theme Park Tribune. Martin responded to an email after this story was originally published, but did not offer further comment.
An email to Werner’s attorney was not returned.
American Express lawsuit
On top of the sexual assault allegations, Werner is also facing a lawsuit from American Express over $866,000 in unpaid credit card expenses.
First filed in March of this year, the suit (Orange County Case No. 2023-CA-011039-O) alleges that Werner owed $866,000 on a credit card that was issued to Dreams Unlimited Travel. In a response filed in June, Dreams Unlimited Travel asked to be removed as a co-defendant in the case, arguing that Werner requested the card without the company’s knowledge.
Werner has filed a motion asking for the case to be moved to arbitration. The suit remains pending.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated after its original publication to reflect that DIS President Corey Martin responded to an email from Theme Park Tribune after the story was published. He did not offer further comment.