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Top 10 Disney FAILS

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
The house of Mouse isn’t all about happily ever after. For this list, we’re looking at those times that The Walt Disney Company arguably made a huge misstep throughout their long history. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Disney Fails.
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Script written by Savannah Sher

Top 10 Disney Fails


The house of Mouse isn’t all about happily ever after. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Disney Fails.

For this list, we’re looking at those times that The Walt Disney Company arguably made a huge misstep throughout their long history.

#10: The Failure of Disney’s America

Everyone knows Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but are you aware that at one time a third American Disney park was planned? In the early ‘90s, Disney announced Disney’s America, a park that would celebrate the history of the country and open in Virginia. There was a lot of opposition to the concept though, and less than a year after the announcement, the plan was scrapped. At the time, a representative from Disney said, “We remain convinced that a park that celebrates America and an exploration of our heritage is a great idea, and we will continue to work to make it a reality.” Honestly, considering the current political climate, it probably would have been pretty popular, though maybe less so with international guests.

#9: The “Frozen” Short

Imagine you’re taking your kids to see the latest Pixar film, “Coco”, and you realize that there’s going to be a short film set in the world of “Frozen” playing before it. Great news, right? “Frozen” is basically universally adored by kids! But then this “short” ends up being 21 minutes long, and their attention spans start waning as they wait for the main event to start. “Olaf's Frozen Adventure” got terrible reviews when it was released, with some theatres even posting warnings about its length to ensure that people knew what they were signing up for. In Mexico, where “Coco” is set, the response was so negative that the short was pulled after a couple of days.


#8: Its Takeover of LucasArts

In 1982, George Lucas founded Lucasfilm Games in order to begin developing video games based on the worlds he had created in his films. The company became LucasArts in 1990, and created many successful games over the years. In 2012 however, when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, LucasArts came with it, and they promptly put a stop to all development, even firing the majority of the company’s staff. Understandably, fans were upset, especially those who’d been following then in-development games. Disney seemingly only kept the company open so that it could continue to function as a licensor. The contract for games based in the “Star Wars” universe went to EA, and we’ll get to that next.

#7: Giving EA Exclusive Rights to ‘Star Wars’

In the spring of 2013, we got the news that EA (Entertainment Arts) would have exclusive rights to “Star Wars” games for the next decade (until 2023). Since then, the decision has proven to be a hugely controversial one. Not only because of the games they’ve released, but also due to the issue of cancelled titles - the most recent example being the open-world title that was announced in 2017. Of course, the largest point of contention remains the monetization efforts via loot box in Star Wars Battlefront II. When an EA community manager commented on a Reddit post on the topic, his post got more than 670,000 downvotes, setting a record for the most in the history of the platform.

#6: The Age of Direct-to-Video Sequels

You probably think of the early ‘90s as the best time in the history of Disney animated films- in fact it’s commonly known as the Disney Renaissance. But at the same time that some of the best movies the company ever created were hitting theatres, Disney was also producing lackluster sequels that were meant for your home VHS player. The thing is, many of these films weren’t actually created by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Founded in 1990, Disneytoon Studios -originally known as Disney MovieToons- was the separate division that was tasked with pumping out the lackluster films in question. These sequels were planned to go direct to video and came with a modest budget. Unfortunately… it shows in the finished product.


#5: Ignoring the Upsetting True Story of Pocahontas

Many Disney movies are based on classic fairy tales, but a select few were actually inspired by true life events. Sometimes, the studio makes the decision to ignore historical accuracy in the interest of making a more palatable final product. In the case of “Pocahontas”, there was a whole lot that they left out. For example, our titular heroine was probably as young as 10 years old when she met John Smith, making romance unlikely. They also gloss over some of the more heinous acts that the settlers perpetrated against the natives. In real life, Pocahontas dies in her early 20s not long after going to England, which makes the sequel even more upsettingly inaccurate.

#4: The Failure of the National Elephant Center

Disney’s Animal Kingdom prides itself on the care it takes of its exotic animals, but in the years it has been in operation, there have been several controversial incidents involving the park. The most notable is their “strong ties” with the National Elephant Center in Florida, where they sent several elephants after their time at Animal Kingdom. Within a short period of time though, three adult elephants that Disney sent there died under uncommon circumstances, as did an unborn calf, and not long after, the “sanctuary” essentially shut down. As a result, Disney earned itself on an animal rights group’s list of the “10 Worst Zoos for Elephants”.

#3: Racial Stereotyping

Walt Disney’s personal racism is largely unproven, but what is clear is that many things that are now regarded as racist found their way into Disney films over the years. We’ll be the first to admit that at the time that many of these films were created, they aligned with common thought, and therefore it’s much easier to be critical with a modern perspective. But regardless, it remains a blight on Disney’s history when you have caricatures like the crows in “Dumbo” or the native population in “Peter Pan”. Most agree that there’s no need to disavow these films, but it is important to recognize the mistakes that were made.

#2: “Song of the South” (1946)

Speaking of racism, we can’t possibly talk about Disney fails without mentioning “Song Of The South”. This film was released in the 1940s and is set on a plantation shortly after the abolishment of slavery. Since its release, it has been derided by critics for all of the racist concepts that it contains. In fact, it was called "one of Hollywood's most resiliently offensive racist texts" and "as vicious a piece of propaganda for white supremacy as Hollywood ever produced”. Think about that next time you ride Splash Mountain! Of course, standards were different back then, but we bet everyone at Disney wishes they could just pretend this movie never happened.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

The “John Carter” Bomb

Covering Cinderella's Iconic Castle at Disney World for a Over a Year


Lightening Princess Tiana's Skin Tone in “Ralph Breaks the Internet”


#1: Park Ride Accidents

Disney parks are supposed to be the happiest place on Earth- right? For the most part, that’s true, but there have been a number of incidents in the parks over the years, some of which have been fatal. In 1985, a monorail caught fire at Epcot, but crisis was averted with everyone making it out safely. In 2009 however, a monorail driver was killed in a crash. In 2015, a man died at the Walt Disney World Speedway, which was closed shortly afterwards. The next year, a young boy was killed by an alligator while at a Disney hotel property. Though all of these tragedies seem alarming, considering how long the parks have been open, their track record is still pretty good.

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