A little more than two weeks after a viral op-ed blasted Florida’s Walt Disney World for its so-called “wokeness,” its sister park across the country is prompting similar discourse.
California’s Disneyland began welcoming guests again last week after being closed for 13 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As many early visitors found out, Disney had used some of that unexpected downtime to refurbish its Snow White’s Scary Adventures ride, which was one of the park’s opening day attractions in 1955.
Renamed Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, the ride now boasts enhanced special effects, new music and a happily-ever-after conclusion. Fans praised many of the upgrades, but the finale ― which depicts Prince Charming kneeling beside Snow White’s coffin to bestow “true love’s kiss” and revive her from the Evil Queen’s poisoned apple, as in the 1937 animated film ― is apparently more divisive.
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In an article published Saturday on SFGate, managing editor Katie Dowd and writer Julie Tremaine criticized the scene for depicting what they describe as a nonconsensual kiss.
“A kiss he gives to her without her consent, while she’s asleep, which cannot possibly be true love if only one person knows it’s happening,” Dowd and Tremaine wrote. “Haven’t we already agreed that consent in early Disney movies is a major issue? That teaching kids that kissing, when it hasn’t been established if both parties are willing to engage, is not OK?”
The authors suggested Disneyland would have been better served by creating a less-problematic ending that would maintain “the spirit of the movie and Snow White’s place in the Disney canon.” They also pointed to the park’s planned overhaul of Splash Mountain, a log flume based on 1946’s “Song of the South” which has since been widely deemed racist, as an example of an appropriate course of action.
The article drew mixed reactions on social media.
After Fox News caught wind of the article, however, the network suggested that “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was at risk of being “canceled.” According to the Daily Beast, Fox News referenced the attraction at least nine times and Fox Business Network mentioned it an additional five times on Monday alone. Meanwhile, Fox Business’ digital site published an article in response to the SFGate piece on Sunday.
“If you look at an accurate representation of Snow White, she was poisoned and that kiss saved her life,” Fox News host Todd Piro proclaimed. “So for those two people who wrote that story, if you’re ill and somebody needs to perform CPR on you, are you going to get upset about consent? No. You’re not going to have an option in the matter.”
“Little girls can grow up to be both princesses and presidents,” he continued. “Let’s keep that in mind ― presidents of companies ― but they can also have that part of their youth. And I don’t think anybody is looking at the Prince Charming kiss of Snow White and saying, boy, that’s a microcosm of date rape culture in college.”
Disney did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the controversy.
Interestingly, Snow White’s Enchanted Wish has historically divided Disneyland visitors. Prior to the 2021 refurbishment, the Evil Queen was the focal point of the attraction, often terrifying small children and angering their parents.
Debate over the theme park’s current incarnation follows the Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Times publishing a Disney fan’s heavily derided column accusing the company’s Florida theme parks of “ruining the experience” with “wokeness.”
“The parks are less fun because immersion and thus the joy is taking a back seat to politics,” Jonathan VanBoskerck wrote, pointing to recent updates to Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, as well as a newly relaxed dress code for employees. “The next time I ride Jungle Cruise I will not be thinking about the gloriously entertaining puns of the skippers, I will be thinking about Disney’s political agenda. That’s a mood killer.”
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