Disney is removing a lot of familiar features from their rides and attractions lately. For one reason or another, it feels like the Parks are changing into something beyond recognition. Somethings need to be changed simply because the technology that keeps them running is failing and outdated, but some changes driven by an altered popular culture have some wondering how much is too much.
Splash Mountain is a popular subject amongst the Disney fandom lately, especially due to its upcoming closure on January 23, 2023, but it’s been the subject of controversy long before Guests took their first plunge in 1989. Many Guests think the ride and others like it have become racially insensitive since some of their cultural depictions are what some might consider offensive. While certain animatronics on rides like Pirates of the Caribbean might give some pause, the last Disney attraction anyone would consider any form of insensitive has to be “it’s a small world.”
Related: Disney Guests Defend “small world’
It seems not even the happiest cruise around the world is safe from the court of public opinion, as the video from @themouselets above seems to prove. According to the TikTok post, “many” Guests found the nodding dolls in the attraction were an insensitive depiction of Asian people, and so Disney was forced to repaint their faces into something more generic. The ride has already committed to more inclusion by remodeling many of the famous animatronic puppets that sing the attraction’s infectious song, as well they should, but this minor change seems to be completely out of left field.
Some fans find themselves asking if the two figures previously seen were truly that offensive. If anything, they looked more like stylized characters that fit with the design of the ride than any sort of racial caricature. While racist depictions of other races have been present in Disney’s past, such as the natives on Peter Pan’s Flight, did something this minor really evoke an outcry for change?
This change might have used less than a jar of paint to fix, but why was this given more attention than something like Figment’s ride that’s still in need of repairs? Disney is more than likely trying to avoid as much controversy as possible, and so now they’re fixing anything that might remotely be offensive. This train of thought makes the change come off as pandering more than an inclusive act. Similar to how the removal of Splash Mountain is erasing African-American folklore, pandering to a complaining audience instead of introducing full, culturally-appropriate figures could be a sign of Disney listening to the wrong viewers.
Do you think this was a necessary change? Tell us in the comments below!