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Nicole

Administrator
Jul 22, 2013
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#1
I have noticed that we periodically return to the topic of what ride and attraction theming is appropriate. So, I thought is would be easier to have a single discussion.

I'm sure I am forgetting some, but here are some of the previous controversies.

- Severed Heads (BGW)
- Miner's Revenge (KD)
- Rebel Yell (KD)

So, feel free to debate your views on what, if any, topics shoud be banned from theme parks.
 

Lolers

Wavering faith will not serve you well
Sep 14, 2014
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#2
This may sound counterintuitive to my previous comments about the inappropriateness of theming a ride after a bad historical event, but I don't necessarily feel that anything should be banned. For example, just because I'm weirded out by war themed attractions doesn't mean everyone is, and if there's a market for that type of thing, my individual opinion (or anyone else's) shouldn't prevail and lead to something being banned. I can simply choose not to participate.

This topic makes for a very interesting discussion as far as how the appropriateness of theming should be determined. It would seem logical to base appropriateness on things like:

1) Effects on profitability: will a large enough portion of the market find a theme so inappropriate as to reduce attendance to the point profitability is threatened?

2) Prevailing laws/human decency: don't theme a ride in a way that it becomes a hate crime or something similar.

I'm interested to hear others' thoughts on this. For example, I use the term "human decency," but that also can be very subjective. Therefore, should it be a consideration, or should it be further defined?

Along the same lines, could something that might be considered inappropriate during most of the year be appropriate for HOS? It would seem the answer is "yes." After all, Jack the Ripper doesn't stalk Banbury Cross all year, but his presence is welcome for a few months. It's also human nature for us to try to wrap our heads around the scary, terrible things in this world through events such as Halloween, hence the scary things at HOS. So scary and terrible isn't necessarily bad, but is it more acceptable at certain times of the year? If so, why?

Sorry if I'm getting too philosophical here...
 

Lolers

Wavering faith will not serve you well
Sep 14, 2014
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#4
That's what prompted me to mention the appropriateness of certain attractions specifically for HOS. Personally, I don't understand the controversies behind either the severed heads or miner's revenge. I'm sure every single attraction at HOS could be picked apart by at least one group or individual, but that doesn't make their arguments inherently valid or give them the right to speak for everyone. If those groups/individuals don't like something, they can simply not participate. A particularly loud group or individual shouldn't dictate the park's decisions about the appropriateness of an attraction.

I can understand changing the name of the Rebel Yell because it's possible the name was becoming a threat to profitability. That said, I grew up riding the Rebel Yell and didn't become racist or an advocate of slavery as a result. So is the name Rebel Yell appropriate? It depends on individual opinion, and I don't think the decision to change the name should be based on this. Could it have negatively affected KD's profits at some point? If so, I believe changing the name was the correct decision.
 

Nicole

Administrator
Jul 22, 2013
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#5
I tend to agree with you up to a point.

On the other hand, Blackfish has dramatically affected SEAS profits chain-wide. In that case I am certainly not comfortable saying SWO should get rid of all sea mammal theming, especially since the documentary is based on bad data.

Going back the Concepts Think Tank debate, I'm not sure that a good case could be made that WWI airplanes (for example) would really affect profits. In fact, I would argue that we have not seen any evidence that Roto Baron has sparked outrage.

I guess what I am saying is that in my opinion this entire concept is fraught.
 
Likes: Lolers

Lolers

Wavering faith will not serve you well
Sep 14, 2014
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#6
I'm certainly not a fan of organizations like PETA or other animal advocate groups that go to extreme measures and pull stupid stunts that ultimately do nothing but undermine their own credibility, nor am I a fan of propaganda thinly disguised as a "documentary." However, I do believe the public has been, for quite some time, increasingly against animal performances. So I don't necessary think the backlash against Sea World originated with Blackfish - just that Blackfish was a catalyst for the most recent outrage. I still believe SWO could keep their sea mammal theming without having animal performances, especially because it's not like they can just release their animals out into the wild and expect them to survive.

I agree that there isn't really a case that WWI airplanes would affect profits. My disagreement in the concepts thread was just an expression of my own opinion, and just because I don't think it's a good idea doesn't mean it wouldn't be profitable or shouldn't be implemented. (If it were implemented, I'd still ride the thing because the ride in the video looked hella fun.)

I also agree that this concept is fraught, because I think it's too easy to set bad precedents when determining whether something is or isn't acceptable.
 

Zimmy

Nessie thinks it is not polite to ask her age!
Sep 28, 2013
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#7
This actually kind of brings up another thing we have talked around before; how important is theming? I know some folks like me feel that theming is just there, while for others it is almost more important than the ride itself.

I like nice theming, it gives me something to look at when in line, but I think most is wasted on me. I just don't see most of it. But I have heard people say that if the ride's theming is wrong it ruins the whole experience.
 

Zimmy

Nessie thinks it is not polite to ask her age!
Sep 28, 2013
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#8
Lolers said:
I'm certainly not a fan of organizations like PETA or other animal advocate groups that go to extreme measures and pull stupid stunts that ultimately do nothing but undermine their own credibility, nor am I a fan of propaganda thinly disguised as a "documentary." However, I do believe the public has been, for quite some time, increasingly against animal performances. So I don't necessary think the backlash against Sea World originated with Blackfish - just that Blackfish was a catalyst for the most recent outrage. I still believe SWO could keep their sea mammal theming without having animal performances, especially because it's not like they can just release their animals out into the wild and expect them to survive.

I agree that there isn't really a case that WWI airplanes would affect profits. My disagreement in the concepts thread was just an expression of my own opinion, and just because I don't think it's a good idea doesn't mean it wouldn't be profitable or shouldn't be implemented. (If it were implemented, I'd still ride the thing because the ride in the video looked hella fun.)

I also agree that this concept is fraught, because I think it's too easy to set bad precedents when determining whether something is or isn't acceptable.
I hate animal performances, so it does not bother me in least that they are going away. HOWEVER as an animal advocate I HORRIFIED by the disinformation campaign put out by PETA and their ilk. The fact is Seas USED to be highly focused in conservation. For me that is what all of the animals represent at Seaworld. I think it is a real shame that ultimately the animals are the ones who will suffer here from a significant loss in revenue. It also concerns me that PETA managed to control the message and media cycle.
 

Lolers

Wavering faith will not serve you well
Sep 14, 2014
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#9
Zimmy said:
This actually kind of brings up another thing we have talked around before; how important is theming?  I know some folks like me feel that theming is just there, while for others it is almost more important than the ride itself.

I like nice theming, it gives me something to look at when in line, but I think most is wasted on me.  I just don't see most of it.  But I have heard people say that if the ride's theming is wrong it ruins the whole experience.
Theming is pretty important for me. It makes the park cohesive and is the difference between a park like BGW and a a park like Six Flags. To me, Six Flags always felt like just a collection of rides in one location with a crappy, disjointed, half-hearted attempt at theming (which is actually worse than no theming). Rides can still be fun without theming of course, but for me, the theming makes the ride experience greater than the sum of its parts.
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Zimmy said:
I hate animal performances, so it does not bother me in least that they are going away.  HOWEVER as an animal advocate I HORRIFIED by the disinformation campaign put out by PETA and their ilk.  The fact is Seas USED to be highly focused in conservation.  For me that is what all of the animals represent at Seaworld.  I think it is a real shame that ultimately the animals are the ones who will suffer here from a significant loss in revenue.  It also concerns me that PETA managed to control the message and media cycle.
Preach it!
 
Likes: Zimmy
Aug 9, 2017
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#10
Lolers said:
Theming is pretty important for me. It makes the park cohesive and is the difference between a park like BGW and a a park like Six Flags. To me, Six Flags always felt like just a collection of rides in one location with a crappy, disjointed, half-hearted attempt at theming (which is actually worse than no theming). Rides can still be fun without theming of course, but for me, the theming makes the ride experience greater than the sum of its parts.
KD's Safari Village will always be the "gold" standard in disjointed theming, although SFA's Apocalypse in the middle of a pirate-themed area and SFGadv's Medusa/Bizarro in the middle of a western-themed area take second and third easily.
 
Feb 12, 2011
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#11
Love this thread, Nicole.

I think the recent removal of the "Wench For A Bride" scene from Pirates of the Caribbean might make an interesting (and controversial) addition to your list as well.

Also, I'm not sure if this fits, but WDW no longer sells toy guns in Frontierland or anywhere else on Disney property, which might be relevant enough to this topic.
 
May 11, 2018
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#13
Nicole said:
I’ll admit that I find the port scene in Pirates of the Caribbean fairly offensive in general.  I think auctioning off a person, however, was always inexcusable.  I’m personally comfortable drawing a line at human trafficking.
I agree with you 100% on this. I think WDW did a good thing by changing up some scenes and removing the auction scene. That is really distasteful to me and a lot of people. Also, I remember in 2014 because of the beheading of the American, people thought BGW HOS severed heads were offensive, that was fun getting a call to come remove the severed heads. It takes a lot of good planning and detail when you theme a ride and even the que and rides, especially inside rides that have set designs. Only thing now, I believe we are in an era where somebody can find anything offensive and make a mountain out of mole hill. So with that you are 100% right on with the port scene in PoC being offensive, and the auctioning of a person is just Not good taste. Human trafficking is just really sick to me.
 
Feb 12, 2011
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#14
Even though I 100% agree with you all about human trafficking, to play the devil's for the sake of debate, why are theme park depictions of ghastly murders and other horrific ends acceptable while human trafficking is off limits?
 

Nicole

Administrator
Jul 22, 2013
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#15
As Lolers suggested earlier, I personally think context matters. I also (cautiously) would raise a moral issue. Finally, perhaps most importantly for me, I think, are the implied concepts of power and control.

Probably the most logical comparison is the Haunted Mansion. And full disclosure, it is my favorite ride at MK, and has been since I was a child.

There are clearly some questionable scenes in HM. The hanging in the preshow and the black widow bride come to mind. So, why am I not disgusted by them, the way I am with Pirates?

I’m not sure if I will express these ideas properly but,

1. The women in the auction explicitly had no power or control over their fates. I can think of no example in Haunted Mansion, however, where anyone has lost his or her free will. They still have the ability to affect their outcomes.

2. It is a haunted attraction, so I would expect elements of murder and death. Furthermore, HM is meant to be spooky, while Pirates seems to be intended as humorous. What is funny about a slave auction?

3. Understanding that morality is entirely personal making this point possibly the weakest, I object the most to human trafficking. I can simply find no way to rationalize or justify the buying and selling of human beings.


To raise some much more controversial topics...

I actually object to content in several other rides. For example,

1. I believe both it’s a small world and Jungle Cruise have racist elements. (WDW)
2. I think Country Bears Jamboree is both bigoted and sexist. (WDW)
3. I can’t even look at the murals at the end of Apollo’s Chariot, depicting lions savaging victims in the Roman Coliseum. (BGW)
 

Zimmy

Nessie thinks it is not polite to ask her age!
Sep 28, 2013
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#18
But without gross oversimplifications of other peoples cultures, where would we be as Americans!
 
Feb 12, 2011
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#19
Nicole said:
1. I believe both it’s a small world and Jungle Cruise have racist elements. (WDW)
I had never thought about how Jungle Cruise's depiction of "natives" could easily be construed as racist. To be honest, I'm surprised Disney still has kept this cartoonish portrayal of African tribes as a threat.

But this made me also think about the changes to Jungle Cruise's hippo pool scene, which was changed due to protest from animal rights groups. The skippers no longer shoot at the hippos with their fake guns, but rather fire "warning shots" to "scare away" the hippos.

Personally, although I don't have any problem with the new "warning shots" routine, I think construing shooting at robotic hippos with blanks as a serious endorsement of killing a vulnerable species is an example of taking a ride's content too seriously.
 
Oct 18, 2012
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#20
I agree with Joe about the depiction of African tribes. I think the current language on the trip has dialed this down a lot. They depict the scene with the African natives dancing around as a party, and downplay the ambush scene. They haven't had guns on the cruise in at least the last three years. The Trader Joe scene is still intact though.
 
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