Returning theme park fans were not ready for an update to one of Disneyland's key attractions, after visitors to the newly opened Snow White's Enchanted Wish found the experience "triggering".
Last weekend, Disneyland opened its Mickey Mouse-emblazoned gates for the first time in over 13 months.
There were tears of joy as visitors and employees returned to the California Theme park, which was closed last year by the pandemic. A return to rides and interactions with cast members were long overdue, but there was one thing that park visitors were not ready for.
The 1955 Snow White attraction which is one of the park's original rides was reopened with a new diorama depicting Prince Charming planting a kiss on the sleeping Disney princess.
This update to the heritage ride was controversial enough, however this depiction of "True Love's Kiss" has drawn scrutiny of newspaper San Francisco Gate.
Writers Katie Dowd and Julie Tremaine took issue with the ride over its depiction of a stolen kiss, given "without her consent".
The newspaper drew issue over the depiction of the prince kissing the sleeping Snow White, writing it "cannot possibly be true love if only one person knows it's happening."
The Park's publicity said the new addition was made to round out the story of the ride based on the 1938 film. Previously it had been criticized for abrupt ending, and the imagineers [park designers] wanted to provide a "happily ever after" to the fairytale ride.
The writers were not the only ones who were surprised by the update.
The Gate reported that "wait times for Snow White's Enchanted Wish were consistently the highest in the park all day".
"The Snow White attraction has such a rich history," Kim Irvine, creative executive for Disneyland Resort, said in a statement to Fox News.
"We wanted to take into account the beautiful scenic work that has always existed and retell the story in a special way. We believe guests will enjoy this sweet storyline in a stunning experience."
While the publisher praised the "beautifully executed" scene, which was in keeping with the rest of the 1950s attraction, the execution was out of step and dated.
The Gate noted that similarly problematic themes had caused Disneyland to update other legacy rides, and "consent in early Disney movies is a major issue".
"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, especially given the company's current emphasis on removing problematic scenes from rides like Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain," wrote the Gate.
The Jungle Cruise ride, which is receiving a feature film treatment featuring Dwayne Johnson, was closed due to suggestions of implicit racism in depictions of cannibal head hunters.
In January the Adventureland ride at Disney's California and Florida parks, said it would get a 21st Century remodel with a new storyline and characters that "reflect and value the diversity of the world around us," said Disney.
However, on the most part, tears shed at the theme park were tears of joy.
After a 412-day closure – the longest in Disney's history – fans and employees were relieved to return.
"It has such a symbolic nature to really quantifying that we're finally rolling out of Covid," said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of regional tourism promoter Visit California.
For now, the park and neighbouring Disney California Adventure are restricted to operating at 25% capacity under state health rules. Disney is only taking reservations from state residents, though California also allows fully vaccinated out-of-state visitors to attend theme parks.
- With additional AP Reporting