Similar changes will hit the U.S. parks next year.
Original story: An infamous scene on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction at three Disney theme parks around the world will be re-imagined to tone down its sexist portrayal of rampaging buccaneers, according to a post on the Disney Parks Blog.
The "Wench Auction," which dates back to the original 1967 Disneyland version of the animatronic boat ride that spawned the multimillion-dollar movie franchise, is slated to be replaced by a tamer scene at Disneyland Paris on July 24. The same change is expected to be made in 2018 at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, according to the blog.
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The blog touts other changes, such as "new Audio-Animatronics figures, costumes, special effects, lighting and sound, including some of the now-classic musical themes from the films." But the updates to the classic scene that shows women tied together under a sign that reads "Auction - Take a Wench for a Bride" is garnering the most attention online.
In the refurbished scene, the sign will say "Auction, Surrender Yer Loot" and feature both men and women bidding on personal goods such as jewelry and clocks, according to CNN.
"We believe the time is right to turn the page to a new story in this scene consistent with the humorous, adventurous spirit of the attraction," Suzi Brown, a Disneyland spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The parks’ blog says that one of the "wenches" will become a pirate in the new scene, overseeing the auction. Kathy Mangum, senior vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering, admits that the redheaded wench was long a fan favorite. Imagineers wanted "to to keep her as a pivotal part of the story, so we made her a plundering pirate."
It is assumed that the change was sparked by longtime criticisms of the scene's sexism. The blog post did not address the issue, and Disney officials reportedly declined to discuss it, according to Newsweek.
But that hasn't quelled a mutiny among rabid fans of the groundbreaking attraction, known for its tongue-in-cheek humor and good-spirited nods to the naughty ways of those infamous plunderers of the high seas. Comments on the parks’ blog range from calling it a "terrible idea" to a "sad day for any Disneyland fan."
But not all the reaction was negative. One commenter questioned whether or not the scene was appropriate for children, while another said it was "never an accurate depiction of piracy in the first place."
Many fans consider the ride sacred since it was one of the last worked on by Walt Disney himself. But CNN and other news outlets included a quote from a former imagineer who worked with Walt Disney that said change is a "tradition" at Disneyland that has been passed down from the originators.
"I can't think of a single attraction that has not been enhanced and improved, some over and over again," Marty Sklar, former creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said in a statement.
The upcoming change isn't the first on the "Pirates" ride to address concerns of sexism. The scene that follows the auction was revamped in 1997 to have pirates chasing food carried on platters by women, rather than the women themselves. Another scene was changed to show a woman chasing a pirate, instead of the other way around.
More recently, the attraction was updated to include characters from the film franchise, including Jack Sparrow. In April, actor Johnny Depp surprised Disneyland guests when he appeared in the attraction in full movie garb and makeup as the beloved Capt. Sparrow.
Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk, contributed to this report.