A column complaining that Disney World’s “wokeness” is ruining the fun “because Disney cares more about politics than happy guests” drew a sharp backlash online this week.
The guest column, “I love Disney World, but wokeness is ruining the experience,” was written by Jonathan VanBoskerck and appeared online Friday in The Orlando Sentinel.
In the column, Mr. VanBoskerck, of North Las Vegas, wrote that he was “strongly rethinking” his commitment to the amusement park and the city of Orlando, Fla., home of Disney World.
“The more Disney moves away from the values and vision of Walt Disney, the less Disney World means to me,” Mr. VanBoskerck wrote. “Disney is forgetting that guest immersion is at the core of its business model.”
Disney announced last year a “retheming” of Splash Mountain, which was previously based on the 1946 Disney film “Song of the South,” in which a former slave recounts African folk tales.
Changes have extended beyond Disney’s parks, such as with the decision not to stream “Song of the South” on Disney+.
Disney World reopened its Pirates of the Caribbean ride in 2018, replacing a scene that showed pirates selling off women in an auction. The scene now depicts the sale of “townspeople’s most prized possessions and goods,” according to a blog post on the Disney Parks site.
Among other changes, the company announced that it was “building on the story” of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland and Disney World to “include new adventures that stay true to the experience we know and love — more humor, wildlife and skipper heart — and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.”
Disney told Attractions Magazine.
In his column, Mr. VanBoskerck said Disney was “taking a woke scalpel” to the Jungle Cruise.
“Every grown-up in the room realizes that Trader Sam is not a representation of reality and is meant as a funny and silly caricature,” Mr. VanBoskerck wrote. “It is no more based in racism than every Disney caricature of an out-of-touch white American dad.”
Mr. VanBoskerck, who described himself as a “Christian and a conservative Republican,” said that he and his family have been Disney customers for decades and that in addition to annual visits to Disney World, the family also takes a Disney cruise “every year or two.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal and court documents identified Mr. VanBoskerck as Clark County’s chief deputy district attorney. The district attorney’s office and Mr. VanBoskerck did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
“The parks are less fun because immersion and thus the joy is taking a back seat to politics,” Mr. VanBoskerck wrote. “Immersion should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and appeasing the Twitter mob.”