The celebration of Disneyland’s 67th anniversary turned sour over the weekend as some fans noticed that the Mouse House left out a nod to its controversial founder, Walt Disney.

Fans took to social media to call out the company for omitting Walt’s iconic opening day speech, which has featured every year since 1955 at the Anaheim, Calif., theme park.

“Why did Disneyland cut Walt Disney’s opening day speech from today’s anniversary celebration?,” asked one fan on Twitter.

Walt Disney, the man behind Mickey Mouse, has been both celebrated for his genius and condemned for alleged anti-Semitic and racist views. Although there is some debate over those claims, in recent years, the Mouse House has made sure to distance itself.

Disney did not respond to requests for comment.

“Liberals think Walt was Racist trying to distance,” another Twitter user wrote.

Entrepreneur Walt Disney poses for a portrait with Mickey Mouse in the background in circa 1955.
Walt Disney poses for a portrait with Mickey Mouse in 1955.
Getty Images
General views of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland on May 27, 2022
Disneyland left out the famous speech of its founder, Walt Disney, for the first time since 1955.
GC Images

“Terrible. Today the company seems to only use Walt as a marketing opportunity and not as a guiding force. What reason they had to cut this speech? I have no idea. @Disneyland do better,” wrote another user.

Walt’s speech invokes “the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America,” which one Twitter user called “taboo” for Disney’s “woke” agenda.

“Because it mentions both history and facts, two things that are taboo to the woke agenda,” the user tweeted, adding an excerpt of the speech.

In recent years, critics have slammed Disney for going too far and leaning into “woke” culture.

They point to changes to some controversial park attractions, such as the removal of a shrunken head dealer character named “Trader Sam” from Jungle Cruise, or getting rid of the “Take a wench for a bride” scene from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. The scene depicted crying women tied together with ropes.

Another controversial move was when the company decided to scrub the use of “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” from its theme parks to make them more inclusive, and change its once-strict dress-code policy. Since last year, theme park workers can show up to work with visible tattoos in whatever gender costume they wish.

Critics have complained that Disney has become too "woke" in recent years.
Critics have complained that Disney has become too “woke” in recent years.
AFP via Getty Images

Several Twitter users commented that Disney’s founder would condemn the changes to his namesake company.

“Walt is rolling over in his grave. Wokeness has infected and damaged Disney,” one user wrote.

This year, Disney has found itself ensnared in a culture war in Florida over the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. At first, Disney CEO Bob Chapek declined to speak out against the the Florida law, which bans the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation for kids in kindergarten through third grade.

American animator and producer Walt Disney with one of his creations Mickey Mouse.
Walt Disney has been condemned for alleged anti-Semitic and racist views.
Getty Images

The lack of response angered Disney employees, causing Chapek to condemn the legislation, putting him in the crosshairs of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In response, DeSantis signed a law that would strip Disney’s Florida theme parks of their self-governing status. The law, which was signed in April, dissolves Reedy Creek Improvement District, which operates as an autonomous entity on land straddling Orange and Osceola counties that has the power to levy taxes, build infrastructure, grant licenses and institute its own zoning laws.

The new law dissolving the district doesn’t take effect until June 2023.


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Tyler Cowan