Disney’s “fix” for Pirates of the Caribbean is the wrong move


Disney is tweaking a classic scene on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and it’s not sitting well with Disney fans.

A big change is coming to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney Parks, and fans are not having it. The classic scene of the “Wench Auction” is being retooled so that the “Redhead” is a swashbuckler herself, and she’s helping to rid the townspeople of their loot. This isn’t “fixing” the attraction, it’s making it a lot worse.

The Wench Auction scene is famous. The pirates have gathered to “take a wench for a bride” with all of the local women in line to be auctioned off. A portly woman in a blue dress is on the auction block, but everyone wants the stunning redhead. This scene is one that hasn’t changed in the attraction’s fifty-year history, which makes it even tougher to lose.

As soon as news broke of the proposed change to the ride, fans were furious. The changes will first take place at Disneyland Paris and then during the annual refurbishment to the ride at Disneyland in Anaheim in 2018,  But the reason that the change is causing such an uproar isn’t because the attraction is changing, it’s because of how Disney is “fixing” the problem.

The Redhead is being transformed into a thief. Instead of being an object of desire in the middle of a bride auction, she’s being transformed into one of the bad guys. This is the big fix? Surely there was something else that could be done, especially given that Elizabeth Swan got to become the Pirate King in the movie franchise. The best Disney can do is make her a thief?

The Redhead is no longer the victim, she’s the aggressor. And a criminal.


There was once a time when the pirates on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland chased after the women. The scene was reworked in the 1990s amid complaints that it was sexist, and instead the women are now shown to be chasing pirates who have stolen food from the tavern. Now the complaints stem from cries of “human trafficking” and “selling women” and so the scene must go.

There’s a larger issue at play with this change to Pirates of the Caribbean. Complaints that the scene was sexist led to the scene being reworked. But given the time period when most of the classic rides were built, this poses a chilling challenge because most of the rides at Disneyland have equally problematic issues. The Caterpillar smokes a hookah on Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad takes a journey to Hell, Peter Pan fights pirates, the Frontierland gun range allows kids to shoot rifles, the Fox is about to kill Brer Rabbit on Splash Mountain, the Jungle Cruise is ripe with cultural jokes, Constance the Haunted Mansion bride kills her husbands after the Ghost Host kills himself at the beginning of the attraction (“Of course, there’s always my way….”) and last but certainly not least, Prince Charming kisses Snow White without her consent to wake her up. There are more. But let’s just focus on these for now.

Don’t worry – I’m only using these examples to highlight a point. I’m certainly not suggesting we get rid of Snow White. But I am highlighting a larger societal issue here. Some people have taken offense with a scene depicting fictional pirates. Now it’s being changed and the woman is going to be a thief who is demanding that people give her their belongings. 

I’ve never gone through Disneyland and picked apart the PC issues on rides. Frankly, I’m far more troubled by parents too busy on cell phones to keep track of their children (RIP Harambe), or being struck in the leg by a double-wide quad stroller.

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Walt Disney’s intention with building Disneyland was to create a place for families to spend time together, not to make anyone feel bad. And that’s the problem. We’re placing our modern lens on something created sixty years ago. If we’re going to start picking things apart, then everything will end up being changed because everything will be offensive to someone.

But, for now, let us rally behind cries of “We want the Redhead!”