There is a lot to love about Disney World.
Sometimes though, Disney makes a decision that some people love and others hate. There have certainly been some controversial changes to the Disney World parks and today, we’re going to look at some of the most infamous ones. So, do you agree with these controversial Disney World changes?
Getting Rid of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
First up, let’s talk about getting rid of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was a Christmas display in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The installation was a Christmas light spectacular where hundreds of thousands of lights danced to holiday music and created a very lovely section of the park each night. Buildings were practically covered in Christmas lights! The lights were wildly popular with guests each evening and, in total, they ran for 21 years before being canceled.
Unfortunately, the lights were installed on the Streets of America, a land that was removed to make room for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
On one side of the issue, there are the folks who would give anything to have the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights back. After all, they were a beautiful Christmas installation and, for many, an integral part of their holiday traditions at Disney World.
On the other side, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is pretty cool. There are certainly Disney fans that would say that the truly immersive land is way cooler than a bunch of Christmas lights. Both sides can certainly be true, but there’s no denying that this is one of the more controversial changes in recent years.
Closing Maelstrom to Open Frozen Ever After
Our next issue has to do with a ride retheming. The Norway Pavilion in EPCOT used to be home to the Maelstrom. This ride was a cool boat tour through Norway featuring angry spell-casting trolls, your boat almost falling out of a waterfall, and a backward and forward drop. Maelstrom was rethemed in 2014 to become Frozen Ever After. Now, Frozen After remains one of the most popular rides in EPCOT.
The Maelstrom lovers out there will tell you that the new ride is an invasion of intellectual property into EPCOT. Maelstrom was a very cool ride that really fit in the World Showcase and, for many, Frozen Ever After seems too fantastical for an area of the park that is supposed to be more edutainment than straight entertainment. (Plus, while the land in Frozen is based on Norway, the fictional kingdom of Arendelle is just that — fictional. That doesn’t really go along with the ideals of World Showcase.)
Still, the Frozen Ever After ride is a favorite for many. Tons of Frozen fans, young and old, love to see Anna and Elsa come to life before them. It may be a bit of a strange add to World Showcase, but the Frozen Ever After ride is popular for a reason and many folks love the classic dark ride feel mixed with new technologies. Plus, with the newest addition to EPCOT opening soon, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, it seems intellectual property taking over World Showcase is here to stay.
Closing Great Movie Ride to Open Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Another ride change that really got people jumping into the controversy was the choice to close the Great Movie Ride and open Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Great Movie Ride was a major fixture in Hollywood Studios and not just for movie fans. It was the first attraction most guests saw upon entering the park (before Tower of Terror loomed to the right, at least!) and really captured the “old Hollywood” vibe the park was trying to convey. Now Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the first attraction to feature Mickey Mouse in a Disney theme park ride.
For many, the removal of the Great Movie Ride was an unforgivable offense. The attraction was a tour of the greatest movies of all time and a fan-favorite part of the trip to Hollywood Studios. Plus, the change to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway seems to be a good illustration of the overall shift that’s happening in Hollywood Studios from the old Hollywood theme and towards more intellectual property (it’s not just EPCOT, friends!). Lots of folks miss the golden years of this park.
Still, The Great Movie Ride was older and the attraction was in need of an update. Compared to newer rides of today, this ride could have easily been deemed “boring,” especially from the younger generations. Plus, the park doesn’t have a whole lot to appeal to kids outside of Toy Story Land. Mickey and Minnie’s runaway Railway is an attraction that can appeal to the whole family. Finally, it uses a new trackless ride system like we’ve seen on Rise of the Resistance, and it features Mickey Mouse himself which is pretty neat. So, there are definitely fans on both sides of the issue.
Painting the Castle Pink
Want to talk about a change that really got people going recently? Let’s talk about when Disney announced they planned to paint the most iconic fixture in all of Disney World — Cinderella Castle. No, we don’t mean when they made it into a pink birthday cake (but that was pretty divisive too!). Last year, Disney painted Cinderella Castle pink, moving away from its previous color scheme of mostly light blues and gray.
On one hand, folks were not happy to see the light blue go. The pink had a gaudy appearance in some peoples’ opinions, and some said it made Cinderella Castle feel a little bit too much like Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland (which also got a saturation increase a few years back!). After all, Cinderella’s main color is blue…not pink. Plus, the paint catches the light differently (it almost appears pearlescent), making it blow out in photos on the pink areas if you try to snap a pic in certain lighting.
It’s not just the pink. The blue got majorly dialed up in the saturation department. Gone is the dusty blues of yore and now a much more aggressive blue resides in its place. The gold detailing got kicked up a notch too. Basically, the overall look is a LOT more in your face color!
Still, some folks like the pink castle. For them, the color scheme is a nice refresh and looks just as magical when you’re strolling down Main Street, U.S.A. This was certainly a controversial decision, and many Disney guests are still getting used to it.
Getting Rid of the Dreamfinder
All right, now to a very anger-inducing decision for some guests — getting rid of the Dreamfinder in the Imagination Pavilion’s attraction. Journey Into Imagination with Figment has had many iterations over the years, but only the first featured the red-haired, singing Dreamfinder, creator of Figment. Prior to its current version, it was called Journey Into Your Imagination and before that, it was called Journey Into Imagination.
Fans of the OG attraction seriously miss the Dreamfinder. Seriously. This wacky fella stole the hearts of many during his tenure in the Imagination Pavilion and there are certainly Disney guests who still consider it a crime that he’s missing.
Still, it’s been many, many years since the Dreamfinder was a part of the imagination attraction. There’s a whole generation of Disney fans who’ve only heard tales of his existence and relate to the current ride’s Dr. Nigel Channing instead. This issue seems to be split with fans with those old enough to remember the original and those who weren’t.
Turning Main Street Bakery Into a Starbucks
Alright, another super controversial issue was the decision to add Starbucks into the Magic Kingdom. Seriously — at the time this was a BIG DEAL. This isn’t necessarily just the fact that Starbucks was added, but also that it took over the fan-favorite Main Street Bakery space. Now, you might be able to grab your Caramel Macchiato while you’re in the Magic Kingdom, but the Main Street Bakery certainly doesn’t feel like it once did.
On the one hand, coffee fans might be happy with this decision. It wasn’t too long ago that coffee was a hot commodity in Disney World — and when you could find it, it wasn’t always the tastiest. Now, with Joffrey’s and Starbucks, it’s a lot easier to get your caffeine fix in The Most Magical Place on Earth. On top of that, it seems like the Main Street Starbucks always has a long line so it looks like people aren’t too mad that it took over the bakery.
On the other hand, Starbucks certainly doesn’t feel like it fits the theme of Main Street, U.S.A. For many, Main Street Bakery was a staple of this integral land in the Magic Kingdom and now it’s really not the same. A big appeal of the old bakery was the ability to find fresh-baked, unique to Disney World treats. Now it’s the same cake pops and croissants you’ll find at your local Starbs. There are a few unique treats here though, but classics, like the Main Street Bakery Cinnamon Roll, were lost (for the most part!). Sure, it might be a very good Starbucks, but it will never be as magical as it once was for many a Disney guest.
Changing the Redhead Into Redd on Pirates of the Caribbean
And finally, we have the controversial decision to change the unnamed redhead into Redd on Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates of the Caribbean has had several changes over the years to make the attraction fit for more modern audiences. One of those changes was retheming the auction scene from a sale of women to a sale of valuables led by a woman pirate — that’s Redd! She leveled up from the wench to pirate leader!
The old auction scene was a favorite for many. The pirates shouting, “We wants the redhead!” was a memorable line and these folks seem to think that the catalyst behind the change wasn’t worth reworking such an iconic and historic attraction.
For others, the update to the auction scene has proved to be either favorable or a non-issue for them. It is a pretty big “girl power” moment for a character that was basically being sold off as property originally! Redd is a pretty cool character and she has opened up a whole new world of merchandise, especially for little girls who would rather be a pirate than a princess.
Even to this day, all of these changes remain controversial for Disney fans. If you love Disney World, chances are you have an opinion about one or more of these issues. They sure are interesting to debate but we like to keep in mind that Disney World will keep moving forward — and sometimes that means losing favorites from the past.
Want to see more Disney World controversies? Watch our video!
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How do you feel about these Disney World controversies? Tell us in the comments.