In a continuing trend of outlets publishing Op-Eds that seem designed to bring scorn to the writer, the Orlando Sentinel published a piece about how “wokeness” is ruining the experience of Disney World for one particularly sensitive man and his family. Apparently, the “immersive experience” is being “shattered by the real world” because of things like changing the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to remove the scene of women being auctioned off, changing the Jungle Cruise ride to get rid of some of the more obvious racist stereotypes, and updating Splash Mountain’s theming to The Princess and the Frog instead of Song of the South. The last straw for this extremely easily offended individual was apparently letting cast members (Disney-speak for employees) display tattoos and wear gender-inclusive costume choices and personal styling. Because apparently while a Starbucks on Mainstreet USA does not take him out of the Disney illusion, spotting an otherwise well-dressed ride attendant with an unobjectionable tattoo on their upper arm is antithetical to his self-proclaimed “Christian and conservative Republican” values.
It’s pretty easy to dunk on this guy, and I could go a few hundred more words on this topic easily (seriously, you think keeping Splash Mountain themed to Song of the South, a movie that came out in 1946 and is only remembered for the racism, is a better business decision than updating it to reflect a movie that came out in 2009 that has a popular Princess as the star? Sir, have several seats) but it’s just too easy overall. For all his threats about taking his money and going elsewhere, we know he won’t. How do we know he won’t? Because this particular demographic has been wailing and beating their chests about Disney’s attack on these same values for years, and yet they keep going to Disney! Did you know that the Southern Baptist Convention had a years-long boycott of Disney because of corporate policies that allowed health benefits to same-sex partners that was lifted in 2005? They attacked them again in 2007 for allowing gay couples to have wedding ceremonies under their Fairytale Weddings* program that operates at both parks and on their cruise line. Clearly, Disney has not recovered from these blows and has never made any similar decisions since then. Oh wait, it seems to have not affected them at all. The last time I was at Disney I saw PLENTY of homemade, Christian-themed tee shirts on families at the parks.
I’m not going to applaud Disney for very SLIGHTLY relaxing their dress code for cast members to allow more expression, because the best thing they could do for their employees is to pay them more. Having spoken to people who have worked at the Disney parks, the current cost of a ticket is an effort to reduce the number of people visiting because the parks are so popular that supply can barely keep up with demand. If you search for “Disney over capacity” you’ll find plenty of results from the last few years. If a bunch of people simply can’t stomach Disney without some old-fashioned racism and sexism, well, they won’t be missed.
*In the interest of full disclosure, my own wedding was planned through Disney’s Fairytale Weddings and it was a great time.
Header Image Source: Getty/Gregg Newton