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Self-described ‘Christian Republican’ mocked for criticising Disney World as too ‘woke’

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James Crump
·4-min read
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<p>Visitors drive past a sign welcoming them to Walt Disney World on the first day of reopening of the iconic Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Florida, on 11 July 2020</p> ((Photo by GREGG NEWTON/Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images))

Visitors drive past a sign welcoming them to Walt Disney World on the first day of reopening of the iconic Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Florida, on 11 July 2020

((Photo by GREGG NEWTON/Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images))

A self-described “Christian Republican” has been mocked on social media for criticising Disney World by claiming the theme park is too “woke”.

Jonathan VanBoskerck, from Las Vegas, Nevada, published an op-ed in The Orlando Sentinel on Friday, explaining why his family is “strongly rethinking our commitment to Disney”.

Mr VanBoskerck explained that he and his family holiday at Disney World every year, but claimed that “the more Disney moves away from the values and vision of Walt Disney, the less Disney World means to me.

“Disney is forgetting that guest immersion is at the core of its business model. When I stand in Galaxy’s Edge or Fantasyland, I know I am in a theme park but through immersion and my willingness to set the real world aside, something magical happens.”

He added: “That spell is broken when the immersive experience is shattered by the real world. And boy, has Disney been breaking the immersion.”

Mr VanBoskerck, who describes himself as “a Christian and a conservative Republican,” went on to claim in the op-ed that “Walt Disney used his corporation to express his patriotism during World War II and his pro-capitalism beliefs afterward.

“The difference today is that the people who run Disney use social media to scream to the whole world that a decision has been made for political reasons.”

He continued: “Disney is in the process of taking the woke scalpel to the Jungle Cruise. Trader Sam is out because he might offend certain people,” and added: “Immersion should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and appeasing the Twitter mob.”

Mr VanBoskerck also took aim at Disney allowing cast members “to display tattoos, wear inclusive uniforms and display inclusive haircuts. Disney did all of this in the name of allowing cast members to express themselves.”

The op-ed caused a stir after being published on Friday morning, with hundreds of social media users mocking Mr VanBoskerck for claiming Disney has become too “woke”.

Twitter user @MorazonInc replied to the Sentinel’s post: “Won’t someone please consider the delicate sensitivities of a middle aged white man when designing children’s theme parks?”

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User @raaleh wrote: “I’m sorry the park about cartoons for children is too soft around the edges for you,” as @sairasameerarao mused: “What is an “inclusive haircut?”

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While actress Patricia Arquette replied: “This guy is taking the Christ right out of Christian. If he doesn’t understand why racist imagery is not acceptable,” and @lisasaurstomp added: “I got so much secondhand embarrassment from reading this.”

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One issue Mr VanBoskerck took with Disney World is the park getting rid of its Trader Sam character from the Jungle Cruise ride.

The Trader Sam character vignette, which was added to the ride in 1957, features a man outfitted in straw tribal wear that will trade you “two of his heads for one of yours.”

The character was removed from the ride by Disney World earlier this year as part of planned cultural sensitivity changes following accusations that several of their rides featured racist characters.

“As part of the changes we previously announced, we are addressing negative depictions of natives in the attraction,” Walt Disney imagineer Susana Tubert told Attractions Magazine about the decision.

She added: “We look forward to sharing more about the finale to the enhanced storyline and final scene very soon.”

The Jungle Cruise ride is not the first in a Disney park to have undergone a redesign following considerations of cultural insensitivity and racism.

Last June, Disney confirmed it would change the theme of the ride Splash Mountain after a petition called it “racist” and “problematic” due to its roots in the 1946 film Song of the South.

The film had long been viewed as one of Disney’s most controversial pictures due to its stereotypical representations of black people and its romanticism of the pre-civil war South.

While In 2018, the company confirmed it had updated the “bride auction” scene of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Orlando, Florida following complaints.

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