This year was a big one when it came to Disney announcements. After all, the D23 convention in July gave Disney fans news of numerous new movies, attractions, hotels, and more. However, with all the love and excitement came plenty of Disney drama.
Disney, at the end of the day, is still a corporation out to make money, and sometimes they can make decisions that cause controversy. Sometimes, it’s the fans who add flames to the controversial fire. As a fellow Disney fan, and a blogger, it’s my job to look at the decisions Disney makes with an objective eye, and the decisions Disney fans make with a critical, if not slightly snarky, point of view.
So, here we go- the top 7 Disney controversies of 2017:
“Disflix” (and yes, that’s a play on “Netflix”- and no, neither Disney nor Netflix were affiliated) was the first item of Disney Drama I remember coming across this year. It was an idea birthed by a handful of Disney YouTubers and “influencers,” and it was a complete disaster.
In April, Disflix appeared over Instagram and Twitter as a subscription-based service, where popular Disney Vloggers would charge viewers for “exclusive” content- i.e., they would film themselves twirling in front of Cinderella castle, holding a Starbucks out on the hub grass, and posing in front of the purple and bubblegum walls. In exchange for this content, viewers would pay $9.99 a month.
Now, I’m a big fan of watching Disney YouTubers, but I would never pay extra to watch someone else’s home video, no matter how nicely edited it is. I’m sure these popular Vloggers had good intentions, but the fact is, you can still make money off a Disney YouTube channel without charging others for it- everyone these days either has Google Ads, or Patreon, or some other type of donation service. If you can film Disney videos for YouTube and make money off it, I think that’s really admirable. But charging others just to watch the content in the first place? Not so much.
Anyway, Disflix was shut down within days, with the creators citing the negativity of social media as the main reason. I’m actually sure this idea of charging others for Disney content, without the approval of Disney itself, is illegal- or at the very least, not entirely kosher. Disney doesn’t allow just anyone to film in their parks for profit. But hey, I don’t make the rules- I’m just glad I can still watch Disney YouTubers without emptying my wallet. (Stay tuned for a future post where I discuss some AWESOME YouTubers who are nice and wholesome, and who were not a part of Disflix).
The “Bride Auction” scene in Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most iconic and beloved attraction scenes of all time. It also happens to be incredibly sexist. But it’s a part of history, right? And if it’s all in good fun, what’s the harm of auctioning off a wench?
Anyway, in June, Disney announced that both their Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions of Pirates would be shut down for refurbishment, and the controversial “Bride Auction” scene would be removed from both parks. This news received a lot of backlash, and one of my good friends wrote a brilliant guest article for my blog on this subject, voicing her opinions on this change.
This is a strange time we’re living in, where everyone, even Disney, is striving to be more politically correct. This has also been the year for women empowerment, and surely, turning a red-headed wench into a pirate, rather than a sexy Audio-Animatronic showing off her “superstructure,” is a triumph for all females, right?
Not everyone thinks so, and I know many will be sad to hear the famous phrase, “We wants the redhead!” go away. I’m a little sad as well, but I also think it’s time for change. Disney listens to their fans and tries not to let us down- maybe they’ll be able to change the attraction and still keep all the little touches we love. Maybe, by turning the redhead into a pirate, the other pirates will still shout, “We wants the redhead!” because they want her to fight for their side? I don’t know. But I think before we freak out too much, we should wait to see what happens.
Saying Goodbye to the Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure
Along with the announcement of the Pirates change, Disney announced at D23 that The Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, and Ellen’s Energy Adventure at Epcot, would be closing for good. This announcement came with mixed emotions for a lot of Disney fans.
The Great Movie Ride had ended their contract with Turner Classic Movies, so it didn’t come as a huge surprise that the attraction would be changing. A lot of fans thought the attraction would be re-themed to celebrate Disney movies and musicals. Instead, we are getting a state-of-the-art attraction starring Mickey Mouse. I have no doubt that this new attraction will be amazing, but my heart still aches for The Great Movie Ride. I went on it so much as a kid, and it still feels weird to know that the attraction will no longer be there next time I visit.
As for Ellen’s Energy Adventure, well, it had been years since I had ridden it, and it was definitely outdated. Knowing now that it will be replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy makes me feel better, as I absolutely love Mission: Breakout over at Disney California Adventure. However, this attraction still held lots of nostalgia for many Disney fans, and there were many who were sad to say goodbye. In my opinion, it was one of the few remaining attractions at Epcot that educated, as well as entertained, visitors, and without it I feel as though we’re losing the concept of what Epcot was meant to be.
At the end of day, Disney needs to bring in money, and new attractions will certainly attract new audiences. I wait, along with everyone else, to see how these new rides turn out and if they fit the theme of their respective parks.
Rose Gold Everything
Rose Gold mania hit Disney this year, but as usual, Disney fans couldn’t just sit back and enjoy nice things.
Rose Gold Ears made their debut, and people went nuts. They flew off the shelves, and Disney couldn’t keep them in stock. I desperately want a pair, but I can’t get to the parks right now, and I really wish I could buy them from the app or the online store.
I know this is a first world problem, but I thought Disney had learned their lesson about keeping merchandise in stock ever since Frozen came out, and Elsa dresses were in short supply. Maybe they will solve this problem for 2018, and keep more Rose Gold ears on the shelves- now that they know how in-demand they are.
I hope that when the Millennial Pink MagicBands come out, and the Rose Gold jerseys make their debut, we can keep the eBay sharks out, and leave more merchandise for the fans who will truly enjoy them.
Climbing Park Icons
This may not be controversial- more like, deeply confusing and disturbing. I mean, what was up with guests climbing all over park icons this year? We had people scaling the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, kids jumping into fountains at Epcot, and drunks attempting to climb up the pyramid in the Mexico pavilion (okay, so this may have been last year, but still).
I understand that kids can wander off, and I can’t help but wonder about the parents. Yet, I’m not a parent, so I can’t pass judgment on that situation.
The adults, however, didn’t provide a great example. For the Tree of Life mountaineer wannabees, four men made it a third of the way up the Tree before park security showed up and “apprehended” them.
Let’s hope in 2018, parents, and guests in general, are reminded to keep their party on the paths, behind guard rails, and out of backstage areas.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
Disney put a 22-minute Frozen short film in front of Coco, one of the biggest animated films of the year- a rare film that also happened to celebrate Mexican culture in a beautiful way. Though the short was cute, this proved controversial in many ways- fans were upset that Disney obviously didn’t think Coco would perform that well, and decided to put Frozen before the film to draw in audiences. Also, with the extra 22-minutes and trailers added in, the movie proved way too long for kids to sit through.
Luckily, Disney wised up and pulled Olaf from theaters, giving Coco more screen time. They placed the short film on TV as a holiday special (where it belonged in the first place), and Coco has grown to win the hearts of viewers and Disney fans- without the aid of a talking snowman.
The Prolonged Closure of Hall of Presidents
Probably the most controversial topic to come out of Walt Disney World this year was the prolonged closure of the Hall of Presidents, which finally reopened in mid-December. Hall of Presidents closes every time a new president is elected, in order to prepare for the new Audio-Animatronic president to be added to the attraction.
This year, however, the opening date was originally scheduled for July 2017, and kept getting pushed back. Rumors circulated that it was because the president had not recorded his speech, and was not cooperating with Disney. Disney insisted that they were doing more detailed renovations and simply needed more time before they could open- that it was nothing to do with the White House. Some fans were sure Hall of Presidents would never open again, considering it too risky in this current political atmosphere. Others wanted the attraction to be re-themed completely, or to keep it closed until a new president is elected.
Regardless, Hall of Presidents reopened with our current president in a prime speaking position. So far, no one has stormed the stage, or trashed the attraction in protest, but I fear it’s only a matter of time. Never before has our country been so divided, and I worry about the cast members working the attraction. In the meantime, bloggers and vloggers are delighting in the fact that the current president’s Animatronic appears to look nothing like him.
I’ll keep mum on my opinion for now, but I probably won’t be visiting the Hall of Presidents any time soon. Regardless of my political views, it was never a favorite attraction of mine to begin with.
What did you consider the biggest Disney drama of 2017? I’d love to hear your opinions!
Hugs and Fishes,