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Entries in Carousel of Progress (12)

Friday
Mar262010

Walking the “Politically Correct” Line

Article by Lilly

 

As a teenager I would always become enraged whenever Disney would change something that I loved in order to be more “Politically correct.” I always felt that people needed to stop picking at everything, just get over it and let things be.

One of the times I remember being most irritated was the refurbishment of Pirates of the Caribbean in the mid 90s. In this refurbishment, Disney made alterations in an attempt to be more politically correct. One change involved the scene which previously displayed two attractive women being chased by pirates and a third heavier woman is chasing the pirate. The scene was altered in a way that turned the focus away from the women and made the pirates appear to be after food or treasure (depending on the park).

In the same scene a large pirate sat against a barrel exhausted from chasing a woman that he is now trying to find. She is, of course, is in the barrel behind him. Here is his dialogue:

This was changed into dialogue about treasure in one park and food in the other park to match what is going on in the rest of the scene (currently, of course, it is Captain Jack Sparrow in the barrel). Now, I realize that comments like "It's sore I be to hoist me colors upon the likes of that shy little wench" and "I be willing to share, I be," aren’t exactly appropriate, but they are pirates and need I mention the girl in the barrel is giggling? Hardly someone who is being terrorized. I really felt that people were just overreacting.

Well, years go by and maturity begins to set in and I begin to realize just how damaging the effects of racism, sexism, and other prejudices are on our society, even when the intentions are innocent. For example, I hate how we use the term “pimp” or “pimpin’” as something cool. Pimps are really terrible men who use violence and drugs to to lure in prostitutes and keep them in line and more and more are becoming involved in the ever growing business of human trafficking. Not cool. Yet we throw around the term like it is.

 

  

So I’m boarding Pirates with my friend who is acutely aware of negative stereotypes and she asks me if I think it is a problem that our society thinks pirates are cool the way people think pimps are cool. Um....pirates are cool. Okay, she had me. I had to acknowledge that pirates are really terribly violent and self indulgent people that do horrible and unmentionable things. But at the same time, I love my version of pirates. You know the ones that are pirates, but still good men (like Boot Straps Bill). Never mind the fact that it is a completely inaccurate depiction of real pirates.

 So here comes the inner struggle. Do I think Disney really ought to try their best to be thoughtful and respectful to all races, cultures, sexes, etc. and only have the most uplifting material void of anything inappropriate? Yes. Do I want Disney to erase everything that had such content in the past? No. I can confidently say that if Bob Iger announced that they planned to tear down Pirates of the Caribbean due to the inappropriate romanticism of pirates, I would stand in front the the attraction with a very stern expression on my face that read something like “over my dead body.”

The truth is, although we love everything Disney stands for, they make tacky decisions here and there. That doesn’t mean we should try and erase every potentially offensive thing Disney has ever done. So many of those things are part of Disney “heritage” if you will.

I mean take Carousel of Progress for example. I have a friend that won’t ride it because of how derogatory it is towards women. I rode it again with her eyes and the truth is, it is degrading towards women in several parts. Should we tear it out? No. The Carousel of Progress was thought up by Walt Disney himself to show the amazing development of technology through time, one of his passions, and how it affected families and influenced culture during those times. Can’t we just ride it for what it is? It doesn’t mean that we have to think being demeaning towards women is okay, but maybe we can just recognize that wasn’t the intention and move on. 

If we took out everything that contained something inappropriate, we would lose many of the greatest works the Walt Disney Company has created.  Evette is getting seriously molested in this scene. Should they have included it? Perhaps not. Should we ban Beauty and the Beast? No. 

How about Peter Pan and the “What Makes the Red Man Red” scene? I doubt there is a Native American on the planet that feels that Native Americans are being accurately portrayed by lyrics like “When did he first say ‘Ug?’” and “Why does he ask you how?” And I’m sure they weren’t fond of the incredibly stereotyped way of the chief spoke, either. So should we take Peter Pan off the shelves for good? Absolutely not. 

Of course you know where this is going. Song of the South has not recently been released in the US due to the racially insensitive tone of the film. Now, I may or may not own a copy of this film and I have watched it many times. When I had first seen it, I argued that Disney executives were crazy. I thought there was nothing insensitive about the film. Okay, I’m over it now. Let’s be honest, black people working on cotton plantations in the south just after the civil war weren’t exactly laughing, singing and telling stories. Heck, even in 1946 when the film was released, James Baskett (Uncle Remus) didn’t go to the premiere because Atlanta was segregated and he wouldn’t have been able to participate in any of the events. Okay, it’s insensitive, I get it. But do we have to ban it? Of course there are rumors it is going to be released soon. Those rumors have been floating around for a long time. But really let’s just release it. Does that mean I excuse the racially insensitive tone of the film? No. It just means I can acknowledge it and still appreciate the role the film played in the development of Disney filmmaking as well as finally see the original source for the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

All in all, I do hope the Walt Disney Company becomes increasingly sensitive moving forward. It is important. And also, Disney executives if you’re listening...don’t touch anymore of my attractions. Thanks.

 

Friday
Mar052010

The Era of Big and Tacky

Is the era of oversized fiberglass objects over?  I think so.

I can appreciate a well-sculpted, well-painted, larger-than-life object used as a design element as much as the next guy… but where is the line drawn?  It started in the mid 90’s.  I’m not quite sure what started the trend, I only remember these things started to pop up everywhere.  We've seen very few of these recently.  Think about it.  The American Idol show would have had an 80 foot microphone stuck to the building if it opened in 2002.  I, for one, am happy to close this chapter in theme park history.


Top Ten List of Big and Tacky
.


10)  Carousel of Progress Sign

A big gear to go along with the 1994 redesigned Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland.  In an attempt to make the land a little more industrial (for some reason), these huge gear shapes were implemented, including the pastel-colored shapes on the Carousel building itself.

 

9)  California Adventure’s Big Orange

Something about bees flying around the inside of an orange and you are the bees, sitting in revolving swings?  If you didn’t get a chance to hang out in this thing, I’m not sorry to announce it’s no longer there.  The rendering on the right depicts "The Silly Symphonies Swings", to replace the orange.

 

8)  Sorcerer’s Hat

No, it’s not “Sorcerer Mickey’s hat”.  The hat in the famous Fantasia short belonged to the actual sorcerer, not to Mickey Mouse.  Mickey was the lowly apprentice who stole the hat.  Ok.  This is one of the biggest of history’s big and tacky pieces.  Big enough to intentionally cover the view of the Chinese Theater (for some reason) and big enough to house a pin gift shop.

 

7)  Aerosmith Guitar

Well-crafted and hideous at the same time.  At least it’s at Hollywood Studios, right?  Probably part of the attempt to “reach the younger crowd.”  Awesome.

 

6) Astro Orbitor

A terrible entrance to a once beautiful land and a destroyer of the aesthetics of a once beautiful Hub.  But it's shiny.

 

5)  Pink Cinderella Castle Cake

I love this one.  Even the most mindless lover of anything Disney can agree that this is a big pink nightmare.  Ok, there are people who actually miss it.  I must say there is one redeeming quality to this big, partially inflatable, fake candy-covered, cake castle-  it was always intended to be temporary.

 

4)  All-Star Resorts

Wow.  This is the Holy Land for lovers of big and tacky messes.  And for high school groups needing on-property rooms for $79 a night.

 

3)  POP Century Resort

This is higher on my list than the All-Stars for one reason-  large wording on the side of the hotel buildings such as “Far Out!”, “Cool Dude”, “Awesome”, "Radical", “Groovy”, and other classy terms written 40 feet long.  It really is “awesome”.

 

2)  California Adventure’s Post Card Entrance

This is number 2 on the list because it involves AN ENTIRE ENTRANCE TO A THEME PARK.  And no one really notices what it is- it’s suppose to look like a thousand foot post card.  It’s being removed soon as part of the DCA revamp, and thank you for that.

 

1)  Mickey Hand on Spaceship Earth

A big giant joke.  “It will make kids like Epcot more.  Uhh huh.  Yeah.  This makes the top of the list because it desecrated one of the greatest theme park icons of all time.  I remember everyone saying “They can’t take it down 'cause it will affect the structural integrity of the big ball.”  WHAT?  The “big ball” had no problem standing on it’s own for 2 decades before Mickey’s hand came along.  Oh and take a look… it only looks like it’s connected but it doesn’t even touch SSE.  Thank you for taking this Disney World landfill.

 

Note:  The reason DHS's Toy Story Mania (with all the big toys everywhere) did not make the list is for the fact that the story is about small objects surrounded by seemingly large objects..

Saturday
Jan092010

ABANDONED DISNEY Series

UPDATED 1-10-10 (with additional photos and text)


Announcing:  A new ongoing series featuring the parts of Disney theme parks we grew up loving, left to rot and decay.
 

We already featured ABANDONED DISNEY: River Country [Part 1] and [Part 2] and look forward to Part 3.

We welcome any photos you may have that fall into this category.  We are looking for photos of abandoned rides, ride vehicles props, animatronics, etc.

Don't worry- there will always be a never-ending supply of the 'abandoned'.   We all know about the ever more powerful attractions chopping block with a line-up of classic, world-changing, fantastic rides just waiting their turn on this theme park death row.  It really warms the heart.

-----------------------------------------

To officially get this series going, we present to you some abandoned animatronic figures from our favorite futuristic adventure, Horizons (a ride abandoned only long enough to pull up the wrecking ball).

 

 
 

Where are they now?  These naked animatronics are piled up under The Carousel of Progress.  Yep, in the basement of the C.O.P building directly under one of the stages.  The Carousel of Progress in it's round building is divided into 6 pie-shaped pieces- one for each of the 4 acts plus 2 small stages for load and unload.  Under these stages are pie-shaped maintenance and storage rooms.  Remember, the center portion of the building is stationary.  Only the outer portion with seating rotates.

One (somewhat) redeeming part of this story is the fact that these figures are not completely abandoned.  Their parts are used for the C.O.P family.  I imagine some of these pieces are from other attractions.  If you think you recognize any of the parts, let us know!

Photo of Horizons dad decorating cake courtesy of Mesa Verde Times.  Thank you Hoot and Massimo for identifying some of the above animatronics!


Look for more 'Abandoned Disney' post coming soon.

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