Disney theme park fanatic expressed his dismay, said that “wokeness” is ruining the Disney experience in an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel.
After his far-out opinion decrying “woke” culture, Jonathan VanBoskerck on Friday became the most famous Disney Adult in America.
— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) April 23, 2021
The photo, with the man in a Hawaiian-adjacent Disney shirt with Disney trinkets in the background, was enough to grab the attention of plenty of people online. But the column was much more bizarre: the Las Vegas native described his family’s yearly trips to the Florida theme park were being ruined by a “woke scalpel” that was removing parts of his favourite rides and ruining the experience because of cancel culture.
“Disney is in the process of taking the woke scalpel to the Jungle Cruise. Trader Sam is out because he might offend certain people. 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. It is no more based in racism than every Disney caricature of an out-of-touch white American dad,” wrote Jonathan VanBoskerc, of North Las Vegas, Nevada, in the paper today.
The self-proclaimed Christian, conservative Republican first objected to a recent edict from Disney brass allowing staffers to sport tattoos on the job before aiming for changes to Splash Mountain “because of its association with Song of the South,” and to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
“Pirates used to be one of my favourite attractions. My family would always ride it first on our first day at the Magic Kingdom. Now, we do not even ride it every trip. When my family rides Pirates now, each of the changed scenes takes us out of the illusion because they remind us of reality and the politics that forced the changes. Disney World is going to lose us as customers if it continues down this path,” he said.
According to Orlando Weekly, Disney Park Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced that the company would allow park employees to showcase different hairstyles and tattoos to create a more “inclusive” atmosphere.
“Our new approach provides greater flexibly concerning the form of personal expression surrounding gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewellery, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos,” D’Amaro said.
In his op-ed, Vanboskerck said that the priority shift takes away from the experience of customers.
“The problem is is, I’m not travelling across the country and paying thousands of dollars to watch someone I do not know express them. I am there for the immersion and the fantasy, not the reality of a stranger’s self-expression,” Vanboskerck said. “I do not begrudge these people their individuality and I wish them well in their personal lives, but I do not get to express my individuality at my place of business.”
The Disney megafan also claims that the company has taken a “woke scalpel” to many of its rides and attractions. He was particularly upset when the theme park opted to remove “Trader Sam” from the Jungle Cruise ride in Magic Kingdom. Trader Sam was considered “culturally insensitive” to management.
“The next time I ride Jungle Cruise I will not be thinking about the gloriously entertaining puns of the skippers, I will be thinking about Disney’s political agenda. That’s a mood killer,” Vanboskerck wrote.
Similar moves have been made in the name of diversity and cultural sensitivity. According to NPR, the famous Splash Mountain is undergoing a design change in response to complaints about the ride’s association with the song “Song from the South” from a 1946 film. The ride will be “re-themed” to focus on the 2009 film, “The Princess and the Frog.”
The changes were made after a Change.org petition claimed that the ride was “steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes.”
Recently, a top Disney executive boasted that the company was passing on well-written scripts because the characters were white.
The Daily Wire reported:
Walt Disney Television’s chairman of entertainment Dana Walden admitted this month that ABC passed on several “well-written scripts” because they lacked “diversity.”
Walden even bragged about passing on a script because it centred around a white family, only adding racial diversity through neighbours and other supporting characters.
Vanboskerck concluded his op-ed by claiming that these issues should matter to Floridians and the tourism industry.
“This should matter to the people of Orlando because, if Disney drives away customers like me, Orlando loses money. I can take my tourist dollars elsewhere,” Vanboskerck said. “I would rather keep spending them in Orlando but people like me feel more and more excluded by Disney’s decisions.”