Fans Call Classic Disney Attraction “Offensive,” Petiton For Retheme

in Walt Disney World

Nighttime view of the iconic carousel of progress attraction at Disney, recently evacuated, featuring its futuristic architecture and illuminated signage.

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort evolve alongside society to remain welcoming to all kinds of Guests. Most recently, both Disney Parks announced that they would retheme Splash Mountain, based on the widely-banned and controversial Song of the South (1946), to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, based on The Princess and the Frog (2009).

The Magic Kingdom version of Splash Mountain closed in January. With construction underway, fans have set their sights on a much older attraction that they believe needs retheming: Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom.

Carousel of Progress man sitting with a dog
Credit: Disney Parks

“Back in 2020 I went on the Carousel Of Progress for the first time and was shocked to hear a reference to The Jazz Singer, a movie starring All Jolson, a man famous for his blackface performances,” u/Big_Pomelo_2786 wrote on Reddit. “While the film has significant historical value, as it was the first film to have audio that is recognizable, it is today only really known for its blackface. I am confused on how I feel about the line still being around, as while it is referencing a film resolved around blackface, hiding America’s history isn’t the correct way around it either.”

The line in question occurs during Act Two, set in the 1920s. “Jazz music is the cat’s meow, and there’s been ads in the paper for months for a movie starring Al Jolson—and he’s going to talk! And sing! Boy, I’ve gotta see that,” says John, the father of the family that stars in the rotating theatrical attraction.

The final scene on Carousel of Progress, featuring the family at Christmas in the 90s.
Credit: Disney

While the film isn’t directly mentioned, the Guest was uncomfortable at a favorable reference to a movie containing blackface, common at the time.

“I think Disney should just remove the line,” they wrote.  “I think the best solution would be to just redo the ride, keep the story and characters the same but remove all the outdated elements.”

Most commenters disagreed. “It’s a famous movie because of the technological advancement, and it unfortunately features blackface, but it absolutely would not be well-known at all if not for the groundbreaking tech,” u/Spacetime_Inspector argued. “That’s the only reason we still think about it 96 years later at all.”

carousel of progress as it was before the update
Credit: D23

u/cutielemon07 disagreed with the Guest’s reasoning but said Carousel of Progress does need an update. “That line about there being ’a whole new century’ is just yikes now that we’re almost a quarter of the way through it,” they wrote.

More on Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Walt Disney World Resort is home to the only remaining Carousel of Progress worldwide – Disneyland Resort closed its version of the ride in 1973. This Tomorrowland attraction takes you through a history of innovation as an American family experienced it.

Walt Disney standing next to Carousel of Progress model
Credit: Disney

“Travel through the 20th century and marvel at the evolution of technology during this classic Audio-Animatronics show,” reads the official Disney attraction description. “Follow an American family over 4 generations of progress and watch technology transform their lives.”

“Walt Disney originally conceived the show as part of a new area at Disneyland Park called Edison Square. When the concept was abandoned, the idea was reimagined, eventually opening under the name ‘Progressland’ at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. With the classic song ‘There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow’ by the Academy Award®-winning team of brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, the show was an instant hit. Following its success, the show moved to Disneyland Park and was renamed ‘The Carousel of Progress.’”

Should the Carousel of Progress be updated? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments.

Please note that the story outlined in this article is based on a personal Disney Parks Guest experience. No two Guest experiences are alike, and this article does not necessarily align with Inside the Magic’s personal views on Disney Park operations.

in Walt Disney World

View Comments (152)