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Official: Disney World Changing Iconic Peter Pan Ride Amid “Racism” Controversy

Peter Pan's Flight
Credit: Disney

Magic Kingdom inside of Walt Disney World Resort is making significant changes to the iconic Peter Pan’s Flight.

When Magic Kingdom opened its gates to the public in 1971, it promised a world of enchantment and nostalgia wrapped in the charm of its iconic attractions.

Statue of a man pointing, accompanied by a cartoon mouse, in front of a fairytale castle under a blue sky with clouds, surrounded by visitors.

Credit: Javier Parigini, Flickr

Among these original attractions was Peter Pan’s Flight, a ride that allowed Disney World guests to soar over London’s moonlit skyline into the whimsical world of Neverland, inspired by J.M. Barrie’s timeless story and Disney’s animated adaptation (Peter Pan, 1953). This ride, like many others, has become a beloved staple for generations of Disney parkgoers. However, recent years have seen a shift in perception that reflects broader societal changes toward the representation of cultural and ethnic groups in media.

Peter Pan’s Flight engages its audience with a flying ship voyage led by the adventurous Peter Pan. The ride captures the magical essence of childhood fantasies, but it has also drawn criticism for its portrayal of Native Americans, a depiction borrowed from the 1953 film. This portrayal has become viewed as outdated and problematic by a group of fans.

Peter Pan's Flight at the Magic Kingdom

Credit: HarshLight, Flickr

The controversy isn’t just a storm in a teacup; it’s part of a larger conversation about how historical attractions should evolve, if at all. This perspective is part of a broader movement that seeks to reassess cultural depictions in all forms of media, including other Disney classics like The Jungle Book (1967) and Dumbo (1941), which have also faced scrutiny for their representations that some call dated.

On the other side of the debate are those who view Peter Pan’s Flight as an untouchable classic, arguing that the ride is a product of its time and should be preserved as such for historical integrity. They contend that altering or closing the ride would erase a piece of Disney history, depriving future generations of the full spectrum of the company’s artistic legacy.

native american scene peter pans flight

Credit: Inside the Magic

The situation took a new turn when Walt Disney Imagineering recently filed a permit to “install set elements” in the ride, stirring a whirlwind of speculation among the Disney community. This filing was not accompanied by any confirmation regarding whether these changes pertain to the controversial scenes, but it was enough to reignite the debate on social media and in fan forums.

Supporters of change are hopeful that this signals a move toward a more culturally sensitive revision of the ride, while traditionalists worry about the loss of an original element.

Disney’s handling of Peter Pan’s Flight comes at a time when the company is navigating similar waters with other attractions. For instance, Splash Mountain, based on the banned movie Song of the South (1946), has been completely overhauled to feature The Princess and the Frog (2009), in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. This decision was met with both applause and dismay, highlighting the challenges Disney faces in maintaining its legacy while attempting to adapt.

A log flume ride under testing, featuring empty log-shaped boats on a water track, with a sign stating "sorry, friends, we are ride testing only. opening this summer!" in a lush, green park setting.

Credit: ITM

Peter Pan’s Flight is notorious for having one of the longest wait times in Magic Kingdom, often drawing lengthy queues that snake around its whimsical facade. Its appeal is broad, attracting not just children but also adults who wish to relive a piece of their childhood or introduce their own children to the magic. Moreover, the ride’s design, while immersive, has a lower throughput compared to many newer attractions, which limits the number of guests it can accommodate per hour.

Disney’s potential changes to Peter Pan’s Flight raise questions about the responsibilities of cultural institutions in the modern age. While there is growing pressure for Walt Disney World Resort to change many historic attractions on one side, there is another side pushing back against those narratives.

No matter what side of the aisle you fall on, it’s easy to see why this permit, which involves Walt Disney Imagineering, is significant for the future of the attraction. Only time will tell what changes this brings about.

The exterior of Peter Pan's Flight lights up at night

Credit: Disney

Outside of Peter Pan’s Flight, you can enjoy multiple other attractions inside Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, “it’s a small world”, Mickey’s PhilHar Magic, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel, and the Storybook Circus can all be enjoyed inside the iconic land.

We will keep you updated on the latest developments happening at Walt Disney World Resort.

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Andrew Boardwine

A frequent visitor of Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, Andrew will likely be found freefalling on Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean. Over at Universal, he'll be taking in the thrills of the Jurassic World Velocicoaster and Revenge of the Mummy

27 comments

  1. What the heck are these people doing ???? Leave it alone this is the magic of Walt Disney himself ! You keep listening to a few people not the whole because if there really was a problem then there would never be lines at the rides and the parks wouldn’t be packed. You can’t change history but if this generation keeps getting their way all our history will be gone !!!Leave Disney World alone just add new rides .

  2. Darla Standerfer

    People is going NUTS!!! leave things the way it is! this is getting out of hand too many people getting their feelings flustered over nothing at all!!! Leave Disney the way it was meant to be and the way Walt saw it HARMLESS!!!!! Splash Mountain should have been left alone too!!!!

  3. Pretty soon everything at Disney World will be Grey and boring. Stop being so sensitive. We’ve learned, our should have by now, how Native Americans were treated… and unfortunately, still are at times. But this was how it was then and it’s a beautiful story of how Peter Pan was friends with them and respected them.

  4. I’m Native American, this does not bother me in the least. Enough is enough, grow up people and quit looking for bad intentions that are not there.

  5. Jeanette Lewellyn

    It’s getting way too rediculous some of this stuff. Keep the old. It’s traditional. If a minority doesn’t like it – tell them to stay away. It’s sickening. Been coming to DW since it opened in 1970’s. Walt is frowning for sure!

  6. White guilt is strong in middle aged white woman. I’ve been watching it for years, the complain more then the minority they claim they are sticking up for.

  7. Country Bears, Brer Rabbits, Scheming Pirates, Singing Tiki birds, Dumbo, Bambi, Dwarves, & now Native Americans. All story elements. All fantasy. All now are deemed offensive by someone. All are being erased. Is Tinkerbell next? Will someone be upset with fairies?
    Our shared culture & history, with all of its warts, problems & challenges is being systematically destroyed. Why? What kind of divisive virtue signaling will replace it? Sad to watch us devolve into an Idiocracy.

  8. Another pathetic example of Disney wasting tens of millions on yet another WOKE SNOWFLAKE REMAKE which is not necessary. It is sad that Disney is more interested in making huge changes based on the few who want to cancel the past.

  9. This is totally ridiculous!!! If the ride offends you, then don’t ride it.

  10. Doris DuPriest

    Where are these STUPID PEOPLE COMING FROM!!!!!
    Since 1953 and literally thousands of people grew up watching this movie and enjoying a Fantastic ride now use the RACE CARD!!!!!
    If you are a racist then stay away from WDW PERIOD there are human beings who will enjoy these historical movies and long running rides much better without YOU RACIST PEOPLE
    DISNEY QUIT LISTENING TO THESE RACIST IDIOTS YOU HACE SUCCEEDED FOR ALL THESE DECADES WITHOUT THEM YOU ARE IN CHARGE AND WILL BE MUCH BETTER OFF

  11. Doris DuPriest

    RACIST PEOPLE STAY HOME WE DO NOT WANT OR NEED YOU AT THE PARKS OR DESTROY HISTORICAL MOVIES THAT THOUSANDS HAVE ENJOYED WITHOUT RACE EVER ENTERING THE CONVERSATIONS UNTIL NOW

  12. Angela Bettens

    This right here is one of the reasons that I do not go to Disney anymore, I canceled this years trip and unsubscribed to Disney+. prices to high and enjoyment to low. Quit catering to the few snowflakes that get butthurt over every single thing.

  13. Will be glad when we quit catering to the few. It’s time we took our country back .

  14. Janet MacFarlane

    Disney… Leave things be. Don’t change because of a few nay sayers, They don’t have to come to Disney nor do they have to ride any rides. These people are not the majority. This is becoming a joke and you are going to loose your true fans.

  15. liberals ruin everything…look at what is happening in public schools and college campuses

  16. We love, or should I say loved Disney. This is the last straw. Disney ects have no clue about the other 99.9% that see nothing wrong or racial about this. If you see something racial about this then you’re a racist. No more Disney for this family.

  17. OMG. EVERYONE IS OFFENED BY EVERYTHING.

  18. Anthony Centola

    Woke Disney at it again

    What a joke!!!

  19. Who are the true racists?

  20. Need to rid of all the Woke and Gray people that are making these decisions and leave these ride along. I do not like the direction this going.

  21. If it’s not broke, Don’t fix it.

  22. So if I. complain there are not enough wheelchair accessible rides ,that Disney will change all the rides for me,I don’t thinkso

  23. It’s amazing how much power the 1 percent has. A few people cry those liberal tears and companies bend over backwards to make them happy while ignoring the 99 percent who doesn’t find it offensive. Well we find it offensive that you cower to the 1 percent so make us happy then.

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