Thursday, March 17, 2016

Disneyland Rides/Attractions Gender/Race Demographics Part 1/4

         So a while back I read From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture edited by Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas, Laura Sells. It's a great book overall, but there was one essay in it that really caught my eye, Ramona Fernandez's "Pachuco Mickey". In the essay, Fernandez critiqued how different cultures were being portrayed at Walt Disney World's EPCOT. It made me realized how I had never really seen much writing or research on amusement parks and their depiction of race and gender, especially parks like Disneyland where the rides are so strongly driven by characters and story, rather than the appeal of giving the visitors an adrenaline rush via corkscrews and loop-de-loops. My curiosity led me to search for these statistics, yet I found none. SOOO I decided to do my own research, this time with Disneyland Resort, since its the only Disneyland I've gone to and know well. 

First, I looked at Disneyland's official site, they have 49 rides/attractions listed (as of Mar 16, 2016).
I'm aware that Disney is currently renovating the park and some of the rides I'm listing are closed, but for now I am using the list they have provided on their site. Disney also includes the age range each attraction is intended for (Preschool, Kids, Pre-teen, Teens, Adults) next to the attraction name. I decided to apply my gender guidelines to these two data sets to see how prevalent female driven attractions were at the park.

My gender guidelines for the rides/attractions are as follows:
1. Does it have a female character in the title of the ride/attraction (Is she the main attraction)?
2. If not, do female characters play any important role or are even acknowledged in the ride?

If the ride passes either of these standards then it is labeled a "female" centered ride, if it does not meet these standards then it will be label a "male" centered ride. And if these standards don't apply to the ride (no characters depicted in the ride), then it will be considered unisex. Right below are my graphs and ride/attraction checklist and then below that I have included further notes on the rides. I want to make sure that my choices concerning the 'gender' of each ride are clear, justified and thoroughly explained. 

However, I do want to make it clear that a ride being a 'male' driven ride should not be seen as a bad thing in itself. My main point here is to just showcase the lack of equality when it comes to how many rides/attractions are following male stories/characters vs females.
 In addition to gender, I also created a pie chart showing how often different races get depicted in the same 49 rides and attractions. This chart is not meant to show how many 'good' portrayals of different ethnicities there are, its just meant to show any acknowledgment or depiction at all. In the ride/attraction explanations I go into a little more detail about how minorities get portrayed in those rides that depict them.

Further Explanations. . .

Alice in Wonderland-"Female"- Alice is the title character, both her and the Red Queen play important roles in the ride.

Astro Orbitor- Unisex

Autotopia- Unisex - I placed this ride in the 'Unisex' category because visitors who go to this ride to are going to 'drive the cars' and aren't really concerned with interacting with any sort of specific character. HOWEVER, I feel like it's important to note that there are three models of cars that you can ride in Autopia, and each has a name, personality and defined gender, two males and one female: "Dusty," an off-road vehicle, "Sparky," a racy sports car, and "Suzy," a stylish and cute coupe.

(You can usually see the car models on the back of the "driver's licenses" visitors can get). 
Here's some info on the female car:
          Suzy, described as the "cute" car, "inspired by the 1952 Walt Disney animated short “Susie, the Little Blue Coupe.” Suzy's always cruising from one place to another and she does it in style. What's her favorite thing to do? Shopping, of course! "I love the finer things in life and I really believe in staying up with the trends." She's hip and it shows. The other thing Suzy loves doing aside from shopping is staying in touch with her Chevron Cars cousins. Once a week she'll cruise over to their part of town for a visit. Usually she brings some food and a gift for everyone. She loves making others happy. "I like shopping for myself, but shopping for others gives me such satisfaction. Seeing others happy makes me happy!" 
So even though the ride on the surface might seem neutral, the female character they created for it is extremely stereotyped. Looks like Suzy never left the 50s. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- Unisex

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters- "Male"- Females: none; also Buzz Lightyear (the only human like character shown) is white.

Casey Jr. Circus Train- "Male" - Females: none The train is called a 'he' in Disney's description. 

Chip ’n Dale Treehouse- "Male"- Females: none

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes
- "Male" - Females: One or two Native Americans found in the "Indian Village". On the Potomac section of the Rivers of America, which people explore by canoe, there are several depictions of Native Americans (the exact tribe is never stated). Some of the depictions include a chief on a horse and tribe members near their teepees. Also the art and design of the canoes which the visitors ride on are clearly taking from Native American culture. In 2010 when they were renovating the River, Imagineer Kim Irvine still called this section the "Indian Village" and still referred to them as just "Indians", "The Indian village now has, in addition to two Indian scouts that see you before you get to the Indian chief, the village now had a horse corral behind it, a very natural look like the Indians may have made out of birch branches and such."

The attraction, despite having many Native American aspects to it, is still labeled with a American frontiersmen name, which implies that the visitors are looking at the Native Americans with a white man's gaze, rather than letting those characters and their environment stand on their own.

Disneyland Monorail- Unisex

Disneyland Railroad- Unisex 

The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln- "Male" -Female: None depicted in the 8 minute American photo slideshow. This gives the impression that women didn't play any part in the Civil War. Also interestingly enough, African Americans are not acknowledge in the photo slideshow as well, which again ignores their contributions to the Civil War. Lincoln doesn't even bring up gender or race while he is talking, he just talks about freedom, God and liberty over and over again.

Donald’s Boat
- "Male"- Females: Donald's boat is called Miss Daisy and has a Daisy figurehead on the bow. Daisy is in a passive position in this attraction, her only assets on display is her relationship to Donald and her beauty. Fun Fact: Donald gets a boat that visitors can explore, while Daisy gets stuck with having her name  on a fast food venue next to Donald's boat, called Daisy's Diner.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant- "Male"- Females: none

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