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New Disneyland ride reignites debate about Snow White’s non-consensual ‘true love’s kiss’

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published May 04, 2021 8:05 pm

Disneyland’s recently revamped Snow White ride reignited the conversation about Prince Charming’s controversial non-consensual kiss.

The theme park, located in Anaheim, California recently reopened to the public after it was shut down for over a year due to the pandemic. With its reopening came changes, which include allowing its employees to show tattoos and wear gender-inclusive costumes to keep up with the times; and of course, upgrading the rides.

One of those rides that underwent a “reimagination” is  Snow White’s Enchanted Wish (formerly Snow White’s Scary Adventure), which was praised for its use of state-of-the art audio  and visual technology, music and lights. But it was the ride’s grand finale that was heavily criticized.

In the reimagined Disneyland ride, Snow White is the star, where designers say she is finally given her 'happily every after' by featuring one of the most iconic scenes in the 1937 film. Screen shot from Disney Parks

As Disney Parks changed the story details of the ride, it also changed its ending, which previously was the death of the Evil Queen. In the park’s promotional video released in December 2020, principal concept designer John Gritz said, “We’re finally giving Snow White the happily ever after that she deserves.”

Now, the end of the ride shows one of the most iconic scenes in the 1937 movie, where Prince Charming is seen kissing a sleeping Snow White (who was in a trance after she ate the poisoned apple from the Evil Queen) to wake her up with “true love’s kiss.”

The “true love’s kiss,” which was a recurring theme of early Disney princess movies, has been deemed problematic by critics because it fosters wrong ideas surrounding consent. In the scene, Prince Charming kisses Snow White, who is unconscious and obviously cannot consent.

Theme park reviewers Katie Dowd and Julie Tremaine addressed the issue in the article they wrote for the SF Gate. The writers said the prince kissing Snow White “without her consent, while she’s asleep, which cannot possibly be true love if only one person knows it’s happening.”

“It’s hard to understand why the Disneyland of 2021 would choose to add a scene with such old fashioned ideas of what a man is allowed to do to a woman,” they wrote, pertaining to consent, an issue that has been amplified by the #MeToo movement in the recent years.

Prince Charming kisses the unconcious Snow White in the film, a scene that's deemed problematic due to the issue of consent. Photo by Disney

In a tweet in 2017, Osaka University professor Kazue Muta said that children’s stories like the 19th-century German fairy tale Snow White promote sexual violence. “When you think rationally about Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, that tell of a ‘princess being woken up by the kiss of a prince,’ they are describing sexual assault on an unconscious person.”

One Twitter user also pointed out that aside from consent issues, Snow White is a minor (14 years old according to online sources). 

There were also some who expressed frustration over those who are criticizing the idea, pointing out that Snow White is a fictional character. One of them is New York Rangers Player Matt Traynor, who thinks people are blowing the situation out of proportion.

“I’m sorry, this is what’s wrong with the world. Snow White, a fictional character getting brought back to life by a kiss by her future husband. Y’all taking things too far and ruining the gullible by making them believe this is what to flip out about instead of REAL issues,” he said in a tweet. 

For the past few years, Disney has changed controversial aspects in a number of its theme park rides, including removing a bride auction scene in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World, and overhauling its Jungle Cruise ride to remove racist depiction of indigenous people. 


Banner image and thumbnail from Disney and Disney Parks