The 13 Biggest Disney Park Controversies


4) FastPass+ Replaced Paper Legacy FASTPASS

Lines at Walt Disney World can grow long quickly, especially for the more popular rides. Disney came up with a great solution, FASTPASS. You would scan your ticket and receive a paper FASTPASS that gave you a time to return. You had an hour window. You could then get another FASTPASS. If your return time was too far away, you were able to get a second ticket after two hours had passed. People would arrive at the parks, grab a FASTPASS for one ride, then get in line for another. Everyone was on equal footing.

In 2014 the paper FASTPASSES were replaced with FastPass+. The idea sounds great. You can now schedule your return times online or on the My Disney Experience App. If you arrive at a park without any reservations you can make them once you arrive. The problem is that you can now only schedule three FastPass+ reservations a day, and they all have to be in the same park. (After those are used you can add more, one at a time.) Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios rolled out FastPass+ in tiers, which means you choose one attraction from the first group and two from the second. Rides such as Test Track, Soarin’, and Frozen Ever After are in the first tier, meaning that you’ll end up waiting in two of those lines. Another complaint is that Disney Resort guests can make reservations 60 days in advance, while everyone else (including Passholders) have to wait until 30 days. When Pandora opened Disney’s Animal Kingdom changed to the tier system, with the only two Tier One choices being the two rides in the new land. It is currently almost impossible to get FastPass+ reservations for Avatar Flight of Passage unless you are staying at a Disney Resort. Those staying off property don’t stand a chance unless someone cancels.

3) Removal of the Sorcerer Hat

When Disney-MGM Studios opened in 1989, the icon was the Earful Tower. In 2001, Disney celebrated 100 Years of Magic (to coincide with Walt Disney’s 100th birthday) and a new icon was built. The Sorcerer Hat was based on a scene from the Disney movie Fantasia. The Hat became the park’s new icon.

Most longtime fans of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (those who still refer to it as Disney-MGM Studios) hated the Hat. They said that it blocked the view of the Chinese Theater, which houses The Great Movie Ride. The Hat soon grew to have its own set of fans. It made for a great picture opportunity, something that was never possible with the Earful Tower. Love it or hate it, Disney announced in 2014 that the Hat would soon be gone. Although fans of the Hat asked for it to be moved elsewhere, it didn’t happen. It appears to be gone for good. Ironically, the Earful Tower was later removed, leaving the park without a clear icon. Disney currently uses Tower of Terror for pictures that contain the icons for all four parks. Once the two new lands open, who knows what will be considered the park’s icon. (Photo credit: Orlando Sentinel)

2) Maelstrom Freezes Over

Many guests claim that one of the reasons that World Showcase is so popular is because it’s not filled with ties to the Disney movies. True, you have Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros and plenty of character greetings, but it still seems like a way to step outside of the Disney movie madness for a little while. World Showcase has always been more mature. All of that changed in June, 2016 with the opening of Frozen Ever After. In October, 2014, the popular Maelstrom ride closed in the Norway Pavilion, and construction began to replace it with a new ride based on the movie Frozen. While some fans were happy about the change, many were not. The old ride was cheesy but fun, and you did get a quick history lesson. Frozen Ever After uses the same ride system as Maelstrom, but it is an entirely different ride. You are no longer learning about Norway, and instead gliding through the fictional land of Arendelle. A meet and greet featuring the sisters from the movie opened in the Norway Pavilion as well. While plenty of Disney fans say that there is too much Frozen in the parks, the ride and the meet and greet are both extremely popular. Frozen at Walt Disney World is going to be around for a long time to come. (Photo credit: Dad’s Guide to WDW)

1) Changing the Redhead’s Role

Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney Parks classic. There are five versions of it across the planet. Walt Disney himself worked on the ride that is at Disneyland Park in California. On June 29, 2017, there was a Disney Parks Blog entry that talked mostly about the changes that are taking place at the version in Paris. Two controversial lines were hidden in the middle of the blog. “You’ll even discover that a familiar character is playing a new role joining the pirates ranks and helping the local townspeople ‘unload’ their valuables at the Mercado auction. In the U.S., this famous redhead will appear in a similar scene at the Magic Kingdom Park and Disneyland park in 2018 following a previously scheduled refurbishment.” The accompanying concept art showed the Redhead as a pirate, instead of one of the brides for sale. In fact, the artwork showed that the only items for sale were things such as artwork and a grandfather clock. News about the upcoming changes quickly spread, and the Redhead’s new role even made it on the local news that evening. Many fans think that changing the beloved classic is taking the idea of being politically correct too far. Whether or not Disney decides to listen to fans remains to be seen. (Photo credit: Joe Penniston)

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About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.