Efteling tries tackling racism with Carnival Festival ride renovation

The Africa scene in the Carnaval Festival ride at Efteling was renovated to remove racial stereoytypes, 23 May 2019
The Africa scene in the Carnaval Festival ride at Efteling was renovated to remove racial stereoytypes, 23 May 2019. (Photo: Efteling)

Originally unveiled in the mid-eighties, the Carnaval Festival ride at Efteling has undergone a renovation meant to tackle the racial stereotypes on display. The Dutch theme park spent three million euros to also install new lighting and give the 35-year-old attraction a fresh coat of paint.

“A number of dolls from the Africa and Asia scene also got a new look,” the theme park said in a statement. New music was added to the Africa section in the around-the-world ride, to replace the more stereotypical attempt at a haunting percussion riff.

Some changes included the ride ditching the decades-old portrayal of East Asian people as having slanted, fully-closed eyes and buck teeth. Other dolls in the Africa display had previously had a combination of frizzy hair, nose rings, and a look of astonishment on their faces.

“Now all scenes fit in well with the original theme: partying through different cultures around the world,” Efteling announced in a statement.

However the Central American portion of the ride still features old stereotypes of Mexicans in sombreros riding donkeys, while mariachi music blares against a guitar playing “La Cucaracha.” Only time will tell if park guests find any of the improvements, or the relics, to still be an offensive portrayal of the world’s cultures.

The ride had been closed since the beginning of March to address the outdated appearances and technology. A hundred dolls were planned for the makeover.

Another ride considered disparaging by many Efteling park guests, Monsieur Cannibale, was not renovated. The park previously said it would consider updating the ride when it requires further maintenance.

The video below shows how Carnaval Festival appeared in 2014.

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