Disney has had its fair share of female empowerment movies from Brave and Mulan to Frozen and Moana. And now the franchise is extending that to its rides at its parks in California, Orlando and Paris.
And this week, after a three week closure, the debut of the new, updated Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, was unveiled to fans.
On March 19, the female ‘Redhead’ character got an empowered role as part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride’s auction scene.
New scene: The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Magic Kingdom changed the bride auction scene to feature an female pirate named Redd
Before the change, the animatronic character was the object, so to speak, being sold at a bride auction for the other male pirates to bid on. But thanks to Disney Imagineer Kathy Mangum, she now has a more politically correct and dynamic role.
She wrote on the Disney Parks blog: ‘When Pirates of the Caribbean reopens at Magic Kingdom Park March 19, guests will be introduced to the new version of the attraction’s auction scene we first announced last summer.’
‘Just as Walt Disney embraced and encouraged Disney Parks to “keep moving forward” since the opening of Disneyland Park in 1955, Walt Disney Imagineering has introduced many new characters at Pirates of the Caribbean attraction over the years.’
‘The pirate auctioneer now oversees a sale of the townspeople’s most prized possessions and goods. In this scene, the familiar redhead figure has switched sides to become a pirate named Redd, who’s just pillaged the town’s rum supply and has something to say about it.’
And the Disney imagineers made sure she was heard by giving Redd lines as well. As the other pirate auctioneer tries to sell off chickens, Redd says: ‘Hey! send them hens to Davy Jones. It’s the rum they want. Drink up me hearties! Yo ho!’
For sale: Before the change, the animatronic character was the object being sold at an auction for the other male pirates to bid on
More changes: The auction scene at Disneyland Paris also received a similar revision last year
Something to say: The old ‘Redhead’ character (above) didn’t reflect Disney’s philosophy to ‘keep moving forward’
Later she says: ‘Aw, quit your cluckin’, the gentlemen wants the rum — don’t ya, boys?’ The other pirates then chant back, ‘We wants the rum!’
When Redd played ‘Redhead’ and was being sold off, the pirates instead chanted: ‘We wants the redhead.’
The auction scene at Disneyland Paris also received a similar revision last year and Disneyland in California will also get comparable updates to its Pirates of the Caribbean attraction later this spring, with work beginning April 23.
This new change is one of many to the ride due to social awareness, a changing society and pop culture.
Over the years, a Captain Jack Sparrow modeled after Johnny Depp has been added to scenes and a pirate chasing women is now, instead, chased by women, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Social awareness: The scene does preserve some sense of the auction but manages to make it so the new character isn’t seen as property
Plan in motion: Disney had been thinking about making changes for awhile but held off because it was the last ride overseen by Walt Disney
Strong connection: After consulting diversity groups, Disney decided to accommodate those that connected with strong female characters
Felt right: Disney Imagineer Kathy Mangum said that the timing felt right when it came to changing the scene
And while the scene does preserve some sense of the auction, which was part of the ride’s March 1967 opening, it now gives the ride a strong, female character that is no longer seen as a pirate’s property.
Disney Imagineering had been thinking about changes for a while but was slow to act because it was the last attraction overseen by Walt Disney himself.
But after consulting with diversity groups, including Imagineering’s in-house WIN — the Women’s Inclusion Network — it decided to accommodate those that had a strong connection to female Disney characters such as Merida, Elsa and Moana.
Kathy told the LA Times last year: ‘Last November, for the first time, we had a woman who was a viable candidate for the president of this country.’
‘I hate to say times are changing, but there’s an advancement in pop culture and society, and the timing felt right. We didn’t link it to any one initiative, but as we talked about it, we couldn’t think of a really valid reason for keeping it as it is.’