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Disney’s Carmen Smith on reimagining experiences with inclusivity in mind

As Disney celebrates Black History Month, Carmen Smith explains how the company is making efforts to ensure its attractions and experiences are relevant to guests






As part of its celebrations for Black History Month, Disney has released an interview with Carmen Smith, creative executive of inclusive strategies at Disney Imagineering, about her role and recent changes made by the company to some of its attractions.

Disney recently came under fire for its Jungle Cruise ride, which was blasted for its offensive depictions of indigenous people. The company responded by announcing an overhaul to the ride first opened in 1955 to “better reflect and value diversity”.

“Plussing and reimagining the experience in Jungle Cruise was, to us, a unique opportunity to basically tell a story that does not perpetuate any stereotypes and to make sure that it’s reflective of our guests in a positive way,” said Smith. “It also gave us the opportunity to salute the skippers that are critical to the experience that our guests have.”

Jungle Cruise was the second time in recent memory that Disney had seen fit to make changes to a ride for similar reasons.

Following the Black Lives Matter protests in June last year, the company’s long-standing Splash Mountain log flume ride underwent changes to remove all references from the 1946 film Songs of the South, a story set in the post Civil War American South, which pushes racist stereotypes of Black Americans.

“When we looked at Splash Mountain, it gave our company an opportunity to showcase our first African American princess,” said Smith. “We need to be able to tell stories that are inspiring and enlightening but also that speak to a community that has not been well represented in our parks and resorts.”

On her role, Smith said it was all about collaboration and teamwork, with the team at Disney Imagineering coming together to create inclusive attractions.

“You make experiences that will make people feel welcome, seen and heard and to let them know that their stories are just as important,” she said.

“My responsibility is to look at what we have now and ask ‘does it resonate with our guest and does it make them more reflective of the world we live in?”


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Disney’s Carmen Smith on reimagining experiences with inclusivity in mind | Planet Attractions

video

Disney’s Carmen Smith on reimagining experiences with inclusivity in mind

As Disney celebrates Black History Month, Carmen Smith explains how the company is making efforts to ensure its attractions and experiences are relevant to guests






As part of its celebrations for Black History Month, Disney has released an interview with Carmen Smith, creative executive of inclusive strategies at Disney Imagineering, about her role and recent changes made by the company to some of its attractions.

Disney recently came under fire for its Jungle Cruise ride, which was blasted for its offensive depictions of indigenous people. The company responded by announcing an overhaul to the ride first opened in 1955 to “better reflect and value diversity”.

“Plussing and reimagining the experience in Jungle Cruise was, to us, a unique opportunity to basically tell a story that does not perpetuate any stereotypes and to make sure that it’s reflective of our guests in a positive way,” said Smith. “It also gave us the opportunity to salute the skippers that are critical to the experience that our guests have.”

Jungle Cruise was the second time in recent memory that Disney had seen fit to make changes to a ride for similar reasons.

Following the Black Lives Matter protests in June last year, the company’s long-standing Splash Mountain log flume ride underwent changes to remove all references from the 1946 film Songs of the South, a story set in the post Civil War American South, which pushes racist stereotypes of Black Americans.

“When we looked at Splash Mountain, it gave our company an opportunity to showcase our first African American princess,” said Smith. “We need to be able to tell stories that are inspiring and enlightening but also that speak to a community that has not been well represented in our parks and resorts.”

On her role, Smith said it was all about collaboration and teamwork, with the team at Disney Imagineering coming together to create inclusive attractions.

“You make experiences that will make people feel welcome, seen and heard and to let them know that their stories are just as important,” she said.

“My responsibility is to look at what we have now and ask ‘does it resonate with our guest and does it make them more reflective of the world we live in?”


 



© Kazoo 5 Limited 2022