- Controversial attractions Superstar Limo and ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter no longer exist.
- Disney is set to rebrand Splash Mountain, which has been called out as having racist depictions.
- The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) received backlash for “ruining” a beloved attraction.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Disney Parks are known for having magical attractions, but not every experience has been well-received by fans and visitors.
Throughout the past few decades, some of the parks’ rides have been called out as inappropriate or offensive and others have been updated to remove dated depictions or potentially frightening experiences.
Continue reading for some of the most controversial Disney attractions of all time.
Representatives for Disney Parks didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The Jungle Cruise
On Monday, The OC Register reported that the Jungle Cruise rides at both Disneyland and Disney World will be undergoing major updates to remove “negative depictions of native people.”
“Imagineers are constantly looking for opportunities to enhance experiences, and when it comes to updating classic attractions, they employ a very careful and thoughtful approach,” Disney officials said in a statement, per the OC Register. “In this particular case, Imagineers created a storyline that builds upon what people love the most while addressing negative depictions simultaneously.”
According to the OC Register’s report, Imagineers will update the attraction’s scenes that feature shrunken-head dealer Trader Sam and the one of a rhino chasing a safari group.
It’s unclear when these renovations are set to take place.
Splash Mountain has been called out for having racist depictions. Disney later announced it’s redesigning the ride.
Splash Mountain, one of the most famous Disney World and Disneyland rides, is based on the notorious 1946 film “Song of the South.”
Over the past few decades, Disney has made it nearly impossible to watch this movie, which follows a man who was formerly enslaved, Uncle Remus, who is now living on a plantation during the Reconstruction Era following the American Civil War. Remus shares the stories of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear, which are the characters we see depicted on Splash Mountain.
As Matt Singer wrote for ScreenCrush, the movie has a number of issues, including how it depicts Black individuals as inferior and is deliberately vague about slavery. The movie, as well as the ride that took inspiration from it, is now widely regarded as emblematic of a racist past.
As of now, no date has been given for when the renovations will take place in California or Florida, though Disney says it has been planning these redesigns since 2019.
As Insider’s Amanda Krause reported, no renovation plans have been announced for the Splash Mountain ride at Tokyo Disneyland.
The Haunted Mansion features a controversial visual depiction of death.
In addition to being the location where many guests have unlawfully scattered their loved ones’ ashes, the Haunted Mansion contains a controversial visual at its start.
In the pre-show area, after an introduction to your “Ghost Host,” the room goes dark and reveals a hanging corpse above, punctuating it with the sounds of shattering glass and terrified screams.
There’s debate among fans about whether this stretching-room part of the ride should be changed or not.
According to some, the scene seemingly portrays death by hanging or death by suicide in an insensitive manner and is not necessary for the ride. Others argue that this part of the Haunted Mansion should be left alone, as it is part of the original ride that should not be “sanitised.”
That said, Disney guests who prefer to skip the beginning of the attraction can reportedly ask a cast member about a pass-through option, which allows guests to skip the stretching room and head straight to the loading area for the ride.
Disney has altered several problematic scenes on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
But a few controversial scenes from the original attraction have been altered since the ride made its debut.
The ride previously featured a scene where the male pirates were chasing frightened-looking women who seem to be trying to escape them. According to Emily Mae Czachor’s report for the LA Times, in 1997, the women were given plates of food to make the chase seem less sinister, and as if it was about hungry pirates trying to get something to eat.
In addition, as Hugo Martin reported for the LA Times, in 2017 Disney announced more changes to the ride. It would be removing the Wench Auction scene, changing the banner reading “Auction: Take a wench for a bride” to “Surrender yer loot.”
More updates came in June 2018 when the ride’s auction scene was further altered.
Dewayne Bevil reported for the Orlando Sentinel that now, instead of auctioning off a redheaded woman while potential buyers yell “We wants the redhead,” today’s version of the ride has the woman working alongside the pirates to auction off loot she found.
Kilimanjaro Safaris has gone through a number of changes since it opened.
Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a safari ride where families get to view real-life giraffes, cheetahs, elephants, and more. During the ride, guests also encounter a “band of elephant poachers” and chase them.
According to multiple reports, in the original version of the ride, seen only during previews before the park’s opening in 1998, there was a scene in which riders learn that poachers have taken a mother elephant, “Big Red,” and her baby, “Little Red,” to get their ivory tusks.
The ride reportedly ended by showing guests the animatronic elephant known as “Big Red,” who had been killed by the poachers – but “Little Red” was saved.
According to AllEars.net, a site not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company, the early previews of the ride drew complaints from parents who found it too scary for children.
Reviews were still mixed, with some arguing the poaching storyline was educational and others feeling unhappy about how it upset their children.
Several songs in the Country Bear Jamboree have been criticised as having “not-so-politically-correct” lyrics.
One of the few attractions left at Walt Disney World that’s been around since the early 1970s, Country Bear Jamboree is a stage show where animatronic bears play and sing country songs for the audience.
One of the lyrics in question that the bears sing includes the line: “Mama, don’t whup little Buford. I think you should shoot him instead.”
The animals also perform covers that some have called “inappropriate for kids,” including a version of a Tex Ritter song that includes the graphic lyrics, “There was blood on the saddle and blood all around, and a great big puddle of blood on the ground.”
The show was cut down during a 2012 refurbishment, which involved removing some of the bears’ banter and the songs “Fractured Folk Song” and “Devilish Mary,” Barnes reported for The New York Times.
At that time, former Disney chief creative officer Burce E. Vaughn told the New York Times, the attraction’s overhaul “was done with a lot of love.”
He added, “You want to be really sensitive to the original spirit. But tastes also change, how people consume media changes. We must keep our product relevant.”
Some felt Snow White’s Adventures in Florida was far too scary for children.
The first Snow White’s Adventures attraction opened at Disneyland in 1955 as a ride through the classic film. It notably featured a sign that warned parkgoers that the attraction was scary, per D23, the official Disney fan club.
The ride was later renamed Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
As the Tampa Bay Times reported, when the attraction opened at Walt Disney World in 1971, the ride designers switched it up with a new, much scarier version that had guests experiencing the ride through Snow White’s point of view.
Per the Tampa Bay Times, the ride featured loud noises, jump scares, and a simulation of the riders being attacked by the witch.
According to a 1994 review of the ride from Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Doolittle that was shared by Yesterland, an unofficial website that covers Disney attractions, the ride was scary for children and a bit confusing since it never shows Snow White or her prince.
The ride was updated in 1994 and this version was meant to add, according to Doolittle, some “endearing scenes” to offset the scarier ones, including a moment where Snow White rides off with her prince.
Ultimately, the Disney World version of the ride closed permanently in 2012 as part of a major Fantasyland expansion, but it does live on in other parks.
Some compared ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter to a childhood nightmare.
ExtraTERRORestrial Encounter tried to bring the 1979 sci-fi movie “Alien” to life in the Magic Kingdom.
After the ride’s soft opening in 1994, former Walt Disney chairman and CEO Michael Eisner remarked that the ride wasn’t “intense enough,” Christine Shenot reported for the Orlando Sentinel.
Imagineers went back to the drawing board and produced a ride with a script that Shenot referred to as having the “familiar feel of a childhood nightmare.”
With its gory pre-show that ended in a disfigured alien to loud noises and strobe lights, the ride was controversial among families with young children.
According to Mental Floss, the intensity of the ride even warranted signage outside of it, declaring, “The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter is a frightening theatrical experience in a confined setting with loud noises and moments of total darkness.”
In 2004, the ride was changed and rebranded as Stitch’s Great Escape, a nod to the 2002 family-friendly Disney film “Lilo and Stitch.”
The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) was called one of the worst refurbishments in park history.
When Florida’s version of the Enchanted Tiki Room got a makeover in 1998, a lot of fans were angry about how Disney changed a beloved, classic attraction.
The new version of the ride, called The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), starred Iago from “Aladdin” and Zazu from “The Lion King” instead of four parrots.
The once-calming and relaxed ride was replaced with a new script and hosts (especially Iago) that were considered “loud,” “abrasive,” and “jarring,” by many guests, according to WDW Info, a site not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company.
Although some enjoyed the Tiki Room’s update, WDW Info reported that the consensus was that this was “one of the worst refurbishments in Disney parks history.”
The ride closed for several months in 2011 due to fire damage, and when it reopened later that year, the “Aladdin” theme – particularly Iago – had been replaced with many elements from the original, beloved version of the attraction, as reported by Dewayne Bevil at the Orlando Sentinel.
The short-lived Superstar Limo has been called the “worst ride ever.”
Called the “worst ride ever” by Theme Park Tourist, Superstar Limo was a dark attraction at Disney’s California Adventure that didn’t last long.
One of the primary issues was the concept. The original idea for the ride, according to AllEars.net, was to put guests in the position of paparazzi in Hollywood trying to catch celebrities as they raced through Los Angeles.
As former Disney chief creative officer Bruce E. Vaughn said on the docuseries “The Imagineering Story” on Disney Plus, per AllEars.net, “The original conceit was probably too self-referential about Hollywood – those paparazzi riding, and catching celebrities. Then you end up with Princess Diana dying right midway while the project is being installed, and suddenly paparazzi are, like, that’s a really bad theme.”
The ride, which finally opened in 2001, changed its concept, making the rider a celebrity on their way to a movie premiere instead of a paparazzo. Superstar Limo also featured several caricatures of Hollywood celebrities that Vaughn called “grotesque” in the docuseries.
Yesterland, which compiled reviews from the ride’s 2001 opening, concluded that “the majority of guests were disappointed and puzzled by the ride.”
The ride closed in 2002, less than a year after it opened.
Controversial depictions of Native Americans and toy rifles on Tom Sawyer Island have since been removed.
Inspired by the classic book by Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Island is an attraction that guests can explore on foot or by narrated riverboat ride around the Rivers of America.
The attraction opened at Disneyland in 1956 and, as Yesterland reported, one of its original features was a settler’s cabin that was on fire. Per Yesterland, the ride also featured a man who’d been shot by an arrow, who the attraction’s narration described as “the victim of an Indian arrow.”
According to artwork acquired by Yesterland, which is reportedly of a 1962 Disney souvenir map, there were once “friendly Indians” and “unfriendly Indian villages” located on Tom Sawyer Island. These could be references to Twain’s original story, which some argue perpetuates harmful stereotypes of Native Americans as hostile, uncivilized, and aggressive.
By the 1970s, many of the explicit references to Native American culture had been removed from the attraction.
In 2001, the attraction faced more scrutiny after a 6-year-old girl lost part of one her fingers while playing with a toy frontier rifle at Tom Sawyer Island, Jessica Garrison reported for the Los Angeles Times.
These fake rifles were later removed from the attraction.
In 2016, Disney removed Steven Tyler’s “crude hand gesture” from the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
The Hollywood Studios Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster stars the rock group Aerosmith in a thrilling ride through Los Angeles to get to the band’s show.
According to Inside the Magic, a Disney news site not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company, since the ride opened in 1999, frontman Steven Tyler could be seen doing a “crude hand gesture.”
Tyler immediately shared his response to the change on Facebook.
In a 2016 Facebook post, Tyler wrote, “WELL NOW I AM IN ‘SHOCK’…YOU KNOW I WOULD OWN UP TO THIS DOOZIE…WAY TO GIVE ME THE FINGER NOW WALT DISNEY WORLD…17 YEARS LATER”
In the same post, Tyler still called the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster the “GREATEST RIDE AT DISNEY.”
Mission: Space is so intense that multiple warnings have been added to it.
An Epcot ride that opened in 2003, Mission: Space is known for being so intense that a motion-sickness bag is included on the ride, according to AllEars.net.
Intended to simulate the g-force an astronaut experiences during lift-off, the ride has been praised by guests for being realistic, though some said that it caused them to experience headaches, dizziness, and vomiting.
Per CBS, since 2004, the ride has featured safety-related signage warning guests that certain health conditions, like high blood pressure, “can be aggravated” by the attraction.
The attraction has also made headlines for its involvement in two tragic deaths.
In 2004, the Seattle Times reported that a 4-year-old was unresponsive after riding Mission: Space, and he later died at a hospital. Per Reuters, the family later sued Walt Disney World for negligence and the lawsuit was settled in 2007.
In 2006, the Tampa Bay Times reported a 49-year-old woman had felt ill after the ride and later died in a hospital.
In 2017 Disney announced it would be adding a more “family-friendly” and less intense part of the attraction called the “Green Mission” that guests could choose to ride over the more intense “Orange Mission.”