Disneyland was created by Walt Disney so parents would have a place to go with their children and have fun together as a family. But not every attraction that has opened at Walt Disney World and Disneyland has been that great for the whole family.
We’ve previously shared three of the most controversial attractions in the parks, and we’re back with more rides and shows that have raised all kinds of questions (and eyebrows).
Here are the Disney Parks’ most controversial attractions.
Country Bears Jamboree
Country Bear Jamboree has always been an attraction that dances the line between family fun and racy humor. The Country Bears put on a show with different musical numbers played in different country music styles. Some of the more racy tunes are “Blood on the Saddle” and “All The Boys Who Turn Me On Turn Me Down.”
In 2012, The Country Bear Jamboree was refurbished, and the show time was trimmed slightly. Many worried that the charmingly risque show was going to get sanitized, but both of those racy tunes are still in there today. One of the other odd songs that was kept in the refurbished show is “Tears Will Be The Chaser For Your Wine” sung by a slightly drunk, very large bear named Trixie.
Haunted Mansion is one of our absolute favorite attractions in Disney World and Disneyland. The attraction is full of witty puns and ghouls galore, but the very start of the attraction is a little dark and has horrified generations of guests.
Everyone knows the classic stretching room part of the ride, but right after the room stretches the Ghost Host tells us we could always take his way out, and we see a flash of lightning and then his corpse hanging from a noose in the rafters. Yes, it is a haunted house, and yes, there are ghosts and dead bodies throughout, but to start it with someone who killed himself is pretty intense.
But the horrifying spectres don’t stop there. There is the murderous bride Constance in the attic. We enter the attic and see pictures of happy couples and then the men in the couples disappear, but the bride stays the same. At the end we get to see the black widow bride herself, and she is there singing “Here Comes The Bride” and holding a hatchet. Honestly, she still gives us the creeps.
A suicide victim and a serial murderer, just some good old fashioned family fun.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean has undergone some changes since it first opened, but the most recent refurbishment updated one of the most controversial scenes. The scene where women are tied up and being auctioned off was there from opening day, but in 2019 the attraction in Disneyland and Disney World has been updated for the times. The redheaded woman who at one point was being auctioned off to pirates is now a take no prisoners pirate captain auctioning off the rum she’s stolen.
But that’s not the only controversial scene in this classic ride. We have scenes of drunken debauchery in a burning town and scenes of men chasing women and women chasing men with weapons.
We have to remember, though, that pirates weren’t good guys; they pilfer, pillage, loot, kidnap, ravage, and don’t give a hoot.
Splash Mountain was based on the Disney film Song of The South, which does not age well at all. With the outdated and racist depictions of African-Americans it is one of the movies Disney wants to bury. The movie is based on the Uncle Remus stories, which in itself is an adaptation of black southern folktales. The dialogue in the movie is heavily accented and just plain wrong. Bob Iger even said this is one of the only Disney movies that we will never see on Disney+. Which is why it’s odd that there was an attraction based on it. The ride itself was fun — we love a good log flume. But we cringe knowing how outdated and offensive some elements of the ride were!
In addition to the racist tones, Splash Mountain focused on the villains trying to cook and eat the hero. There was even a part before the big drop where you could see Bre’r Fox and Bre’r Bear about to drop Bre’r Rabbit into a boiling cauldron. How’s that for grim imagery?
Back in 2020, it was announced that Splash Mountain would be rethemed to The Princess and the Frog. The ride closed in January of 2023 and is currently being transformed into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — which will open in late 2024.
Snow White’s Scary Adventure
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full length animated film, and it is a beautiful and terrifying film. The Evil Queen, whether in her queen or witch form, is a pretty imposing villain. The first version of this ride opened in 1955 when Disneyland opened, and there have been a few changes over the years, but it is still one of the scarier rides in the Disney parks. There is a version of Snow White’s Scary Adventure in Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disneyland.
When the ride first opened the word Scary wasn’t in the name; it was added in 1983 to give guests an idea what the ride was like. In this dark ride, you ride through the story from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but there are scenes that are pretty scary. When the ride vehicle heads to the Evil Queen in her witch form and we head through her dungeon, many children have cried.
This may not be controversial for any racy reasons, but it is definitely one that feels unnecessarily scary, and it looks like Disney knows. The ride has since been reimagined in Disneyland and is now Snow White’s Enchanted Wish.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter goes down in history as on of the is attractions that has scared more guests. The basic plot of the attraction is a teleportation gone wrong where a terrifying carnivorous alien is teleported into the theater and breaks out. Most of the ride is in the dark and uses flashes of lights, moving attachments on your seat, and sound to make it feel like the alien is moving around the theater trying to eat the guests. And you were locked into your seat with shoulder restraints.
There are a rumors when this attraction was in previews the then CEO Michael Eisner thought it wasn’t scary enough and had the Imagineers turn up the intensity. They definitely turned it up. People were genuinely terrified of Alien Encounter, and it was only open for nine years at Disney World. A second one was going open in Disneyland but was scrapped. The Alien Encounter in Disney World was closed and replaced with a less scary attraction: Stitch’s Great Escape. Disney normally celebrates their past attractions, but Alien Encounter is one they wish we’d all forget.
The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management
Okay, so the Enchanted Tiki Room is one of the oldest and most beloved attractions in Disney, and at Disney World they committed a crime by re-theming this classic. In 1998, Tropical Serenade (The Enchanted Tiki Room), opened as the Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management. The idea was that Zazu from The Lion King and Iago from Aladdin take over running the Tiki Room.
The controversial decision to mess with a classic favorite was met with a lot of negativity. In essence it was still an attraction with animatronic birds singing songs and entertaining the guests. This version of the attraction lasted for 13 years before it was changed back to the classic Enchanted Tiki Room.
Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour
So Alien Encounter may have been the scariest attraction in Disney World, but in Tokyo Disneyland is where the scariest Disney attraction was located. For 20 years, Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour terrified guests in Tokyo Disneyland. The attraction was a guided tour through the castle that started by showing guests some of the heroes from Disney movies, but the villains felt insulted and took over partway through. That sounds harmless, but when the takeover happens a dark passageway opens, and guests are led through dungeon and evil lab.
The tour through the deepest darkest parts of the castle ended with the guests being in front of one of the creepiest villains in Disney history, the Horned King. The animatronic Horned King, from the Black Cauldron film, stood behind the bubbling Black Cauldron. The attraction ended when a hero was chosen from the group and and given a sword to point at the Cauldron and the Horned King to destroy him.
After 20 years of being very dark and scary this attraction closed. Is the Horned King still somewhere beneath Cinderella’s Castle, just waiting for lost guests to wander his way?
Superstar Limo wasn’t necessarily controversial in the traditional sense, but it sure was questionable. This was an attraction at Disney’s California Adventure that was open for less than a year. Yep: under one year. The ride was a dark ride where you are in a limo driving through a stylized cartoony Hollywood.
Throughout the ride guests were bombarded with exaggerated celebrity animatronics that just looked creepy. Drew Carey, who is in the ride, was one of the most critical of it saying that “the space would be better devoted to something more entertaining, such as an Audio-animatronic dentist doing root canals on all Imagineers who came up with the idea for Superstar Limo.”
All of these attractions have had some controversy around them and their themes. Hopefully they look at these and pick carefully for their future attractions.
What do you think is the most controversial Disney Attraction of all time? Let us know in the comments.
Get more Disney history at the links below.
- Six Things You Didn’t Know About Disney Icon Mary Blair
- Walt Disney World Through the Decades: the Unexpected History of the Most Magical Place On Earth
- Disney’s Most Controversial Attractions
- Why Disney World Will Never Get Its Own Avengers Campus
- 18 Things You Didn’t Know About Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle