Disneyland ride to get rid of “wench auction” feature where women are sold

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Elle Griffiths
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A popular attraction at California’s Disneyland will have a scene depicting women tied by rope on an auction block removed when the ride closes for maintenance next year. 

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride – the original inspiration for the Hollywood films- has been at the park since 1967 and was the last ride Walt Disney himself saw made. 

But those in charge have decided to remove the controversial “wench auction” scene to reflect the times and the fact the ride is for all ages. 

The offending scene features female figurines on an auction block with a banner reading “ Take a wench for a bride” as riders pass by in their boats. 

Disney officials said Thursday (29 June) that the change will also take place next month at the same ride in Disneyland Paris, and in the Magic Kingdom Park next year.

While some have welcomed the modernisation of the attraction given how many children see it on the daily basis, many took to social media to vent their frustration, arguing that the ride is supposed to depict a brutal and violent era when women were violated and treated as commodities. 

They saw the move as an attempt to sanitise history and argued that reflecting the period was not the same as condoning the behaviour or attitudes of murderous 18th-century pirates.

Others simply expressed disappointment that one of their favourite features of the attraction was being removed, with many claiming a sentimental attachment from childhood. 

The scene will be altered to depict townspeople giving their belongings up to the pirates, rather than selling off women to them. 

A new banner reading “Auction, Surrender yer loot” will replace the existing one, though a tall redheaded woman from the bride auction will remain in the new scene.

But instead of being a prize, she will become a rifle-toting pirate, donning a feathered hat.

“Our team thought long and hard about how best to update this scene,” Kathy Mangum of Disney Imagineering said. “Given the redhead has long been a fan favorite, we wanted to keep her as a pivotal part of the story, so we made her a plundering pirate!”

This is not the first change the company has made to their attractions to reflect modern attitudes, including other alterations to the pirates ride.

A scene that previously showed pirates chasing women was changed to include trays of food in the women’s hands so that it looks as though the pirates are lusting after the food, rather than the women themselves. 

A balcony scene was also recreated to show a woman chasing a pirate, instead of the other way around.

Images: Getty / Twitter


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Elle Griffiths

Elle Griffiths is a freelance writer living in Brighton. She divides her time pretty evenly between despairing about American Politics, watching Mad Men re-runs and complaining about Southern Rail delays.