The Top 10 Most Controversial Disney Decisions

Sorcerers Hat _ disney fanatic _ controversial disney

Let’s face it; we all have our own opinions as to how Disney should update or change their property, rides, attractions, etc. Sometimes the changes may seem great, while other times, we’re left with our jaws hanging. Whether you agree with it or not, here are ten controversial Disney decisions that have been made.

10. Castle Changes

Back in 1996, Disney World decided to go all out for its 25th birthday by making the castle appear like a huge birthday cake. The facade that covered the castle for a little over a year included pink ‘frosting’ with many pieces of candy such as gumdrops and lollipops along with candles on the top of the cake. While this was a very cute idea, guests were outraged for a few reasons. For starters, first time visitors dreamed of taking a picture in front of the classic castle, only to be disappointed by a giant ‘cake’. In addition, Brides were also really upset because their wedding pictures had to be taken in an alternate location due to the fact that a giant cake in the background wouldn’t exactly match a fairy tale romance theme of a wedding. Since so many complaints were made that year, Disney decided that any changes made to the castle for future celebrations would only last a full 24 hours to ensure guests can enjoy the classic castle on their vacation. This is the reason that when Stitch threw toilet paper all over the castle on the opening day of his ride in 2004, it only lasted one day. Fast forward to 2020 – the Cinderella Castle has undergone a “royal makeover”. The Castle’s new paint job has a “rose-pink” touch and gold accents.

Credit: Disney

9. “Avatar Land” (Pandora – World of Avatar)

With Avatar being a top grossing film, its not surprising to hear that Disney wanted to sign a deal to incorporate this film into their parks. Animal Kingdom was the closest related to have an Avatar-themed land. This land called Pandora – World of Avatar opened in 2017. Many Disney fans had mixed feelings about this addition because Animal Kingdom is based on real life animals in a real society and world. While dinosaurs are no longer in existence they did once roam the earth, making it acceptable to add that portion into the park. Many believe the fictional characters and World of Avatar should not be part of a real life theme park.

Flight of Passage

8. Resort Overnight Parking Fees

In 2018, Disney announced that resort parking would no longer be free. Here’s the current breakdown:

  • Disney Value Resorts: $15 per night
  • Disney Moderate Resorts: $20 per night
  • Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $25 per night

There is an additional rumor that a “Resort Fee” of $15 per night might also be added in the future. This would cover the cost of bus transportation to all four parks, water parks, and Disney Springs, Wi-Fi, and a few other things that guests already enjoy at the regular room rate. Several guests have commented online that this isn’t necessary due to the fact that they already receive these add-ons as part of their daily rate. Resorts are already expensive enough as it is. Adding an additional $15 per night (on top of the parking fees) may make or break a guest making the decision to stay on property or find a cheaper resort nearby.

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7. FastPass+

Back in the day, Fastpasses were easy to get. One simply used their park ticket at any of the kiosks outside of a ride to receive a Fastpass (on paper). Once you used your Fastpass, you were able to go to another kiosk at a ride and receive another. Fast forward to present day where the new Fastpass system, My Disney Experience, has taken over the way guests can enjoy skipping the lines at their favorite rides and attractions. Now, FastPasses can be selected up to 60 days in advance for resort guests when a park ticket is linked to you’re my Disney experience account (30 Days for non-resort guests). Up to 3 FastPasses may be selected in advance on a given day. After each pass is used a new one may be scheduled using the My Disney Experience app on a smartphone. There are even restrictions in some of the parks with which rides you can choose to receive a FastPass from depending on its ‘thrill’ category or release date (Tier 1 and Tier 2).

FastPass Plus

Some Disney goers are very upset with this new system for many reasons. First, tickets must be purchased in advance to take advantage of the 60 or 30-day periods to reserve FastPasses. If you wait until you arrive to purchase park tickets to select FastPasses, chances are the good ones will be gone. While some may enjoy the system, others still prefer the old method of getting FastPasses.

6. Spikes In Prices

We are all pretty used to the spike in park tickets every year, but recently, Disney has decided to create a tiered ticket system. Guests will be charged more for a park ticket during peak seasons (such as summer and winter) than if they were to visit during months with smaller crowds. Many guests are outraged because due to kids schooling, they are only able to visit during these months, making it even more expensive for them to enjoy the happiest place on earth.

5. Removing Classic Rides

Ever heard of the phrase ‘out with the old, in with the new’? Classic films and stories tend to be passed on through our children for years and years to come, but sometimes, these classic rides get the boot to make room for newer ones.

For example, many guests were livid when they found out that Snow White’s Scary Adventure and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride were being replaced with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. The reason for being upset often is that these classic rides hold a special place in park goers memories. They aren’t able to pass those on to their children because they have been removed. There are also many shows that have been revamped or removed in all four parks. Whether we like it or not, with new films and characters being introduced each and every year, Disney must make room for them in some way.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

4. “Star Wars Land” (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge)

Millions of Star Wars fans can finally experience Star Wars land (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios which opened Fall 2019. While Star Wars fans are smiling from ear to ear with this new addition, many Disney goers are angry about this new land. The reason for this is because much of Hollywood Studios was reworked to make room for all things Star Wars. Some guests opinions are that if there was to be a Star Wars land, it should be its own separate park, not part of Hollywood Studios. Since Disney has earned billions of dollars on Star Wars films and partnered with Lucasfilms, its no wonder they quickly decided that Star Wars needed to have more of a presence in their parks.

Millennium Falcon

3. Good-Bye Sorcerer Hat

In 2015, Disney decided to remove Mickey’s larger than life blue sorcerer hat that sat directly on the main street when you first enter Hollywood Studios. This sent many Disney fanatics in a tizzy because it is the landmark that represented Hollywood Studios and was really cool to enjoy. A giant stage has replaced the sorcerer hat that is the host of dance parties and Star Wars shows. This is controversial because while many fans were upset, there are several that enjoyed the hat being removed because the Chinese theater was hidden from sight when they first walked into the park.

Sorcerers Hat _ disney fanatic _ controversial disney

2. Welcome Starbucks

In 2009, Disney signed a contract to include Starbucks in all Disney parks. While many coffee lovers were excited about having their favorite drinks at the happiest place on earth, there was a bit of controversy from fans because they believe that Disney should be a place where nothing from the ‘real’ world should be incorporated in their parks. Many would prefer that all restaurants and snack carts stay true to Disney rather than including commercial everyday places in the parks and resorts.

1. Closing Maelstrom & The Great Movie Ride

Two attraction closures that really seemed to stir up Disney fans were Maelstrom in EPCOT and The Great Movie Ride in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Since 1988, Maelstrom (located in the Norway pavilion in Epcot) was loved by many park guests. Guests were able to voyage through a mythological path that shared the spirit of Norway’s Viking days. This ride closed in 2014 to undergo renovations to reopen as Frozen Ever After, a ride showcasing the popular and beloved Frozen movie. While many Disney customers were excited for something new and ‘with the times’, many park goers were extremely disappointed. The argument was that Maelstrom fit with the theming of the country in the world showcase because it was authentic and didn’t include fantasy aspects (which none of the countries really do). Having a Frozen ride in the world showcase didn’t fitting and would belong better in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, or even Hollywood Studios. Frozen Ever After opened in 2016 and has been one of the most popular EPCOT attractions ever since.


The Great Movie Ride resided in Disney’s Hollywood Studios since opening day, May 1, 1989. The iconic attraction was closed in August 2017 to make way for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The Great Movie Ride may have needed an update, but many Disney goers felt that was the essence of what Hollywood Studios was all about. The movies! Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway open in March 2020. It was an instant success.

Credit: Disney (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

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About Natalie

Natalie is an elementary school teacher and a native Floridian who lives and breathes all things Disney. Her love for Disney started at the age of two during her first visit, and has continued to flourish into her adult life. She loves to share her Disney passion with her students and believes Disney is so special because there is no other place to forget about your worries and be a kid again, which is why she refuses to ‘grow up’.

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