Washington: Walt Disney World has shut down its latest Epcot exhibit and is retooling the attraction, after receiving complaints that it could have made obese children unhappy. Habit Heroes featured animated fitness superheroes ‘Will Power’ and ‘Callie Stenics’ and super-sized villains ‘Snacker’ and ‘Lead Bottom’, who eat junk food and watch too much television. Critics said these characters are insensitive and reinforce stereotypes that obese children are lazy and have poor eating habits. Obesity can sometimes be attributed to genetics and certain medications, and food can be used as a coping mechanism, doctors say.
“We’re appalled to learn that Disney, a traditional hallmark of childhood happiness and joy, has fallen under the shadow of negativity and discrimination,” a news channel has quoted the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance as saying in a statement.
Peggy Howell, a spokeswoman for the group, also gave her opinion after viewing a companion website.
“I was really disturbed to see the most negative habits were attached to really fat bodies. These pictures further the stigma against people of higher body weight,” she said.
Even some doctors couldn’t believe the attraction was based on such theme.
“It’s so dumbfounding it’s unreal,” Dr Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine, told the Calgary Herald.
“I just can’t believe somebody out there thought it was a good idea to pick up where the school bullies left off and shame kids on their vacation,” Dr Freedhoff said.
The official opening has been postponed indefinitely, the Orlando Sentinel revealed Thursday. Blue Cross and Blue Shield partnered with Disney to create the exhibit. Blue Cross spokesman John W Herbkersman said the exhibit was meant to be helpful.
“Our goal is to ensure that the attraction conveys a positive message about healthy lifestyles in a fun and empowering way,” Herbkersman said.
“To work on further improving and refining the experience, the attraction is closed for the time being. We look forward to officially opening it soon,” he said.
“That’s why we have a soft opening. So we can open it up to others and listen. We’ve heard the feedback,” Disney spokeswoman Kathleen Prihoda added.