|by Brad Tuttle||Amusement and Theme Parks, Disney||2|
"Habit Heroes," an interactive exhibit at EPCOT that features overweight villains with names like "Snacker" and "Lead Bottom," was supposed to open on March 5.
Head over to HabitHeroes.com, the website Disney created specifically for the exhibit that was expected to open in early March, and you'll encounter a message stating that the site is "Down for Maintenance."
As for the exhibit itself, Disney has decided to postpone its opening indefinitely. You can probably guess the reason why. Last month, the exhibit had a "soft opening," during which EPCOT and the exhibit's partner, insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield, could get feedback from the public.
The point of the interactive exhibit was supposedly to help children and other park guests develop good habits while fighting off the bad ones. To dramatize the battle, exhibit designers created characters: good, healthy ones, such as Will Power and Callie Stenics, and bad ones, including the oversized Snacker, The Glutton, and Lead Bottom, as well as villains such as Drama Queen, Control Freak, and Sweet Tooth. Their names should give a pretty good indication of what their powers (weaknesses?) are.
After word of the exhibit spread, the complaints started coming in. Per the Orlando Sentinel:
"We're appalled to learn that Disney, a traditional hallmark of childhood happiness and joy, has fallen under the shadow of negativity and discrimination," came a heated response from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. "It appears that Disney now believes that using the tool of shame, favored so much by today's healthcare corporations, is the best way to communicate with children."
The association said, based on the exhibit, both Disney and Blue Cross have sided with "bullies" who mock, insult, and vilify the obese.
At the website WeightyMatters, Yani Freedhoff, a physician based in Ottawa, wrote:
So thanks for being so helpful Disney - I mean if your kid's not overweight or obese, here's to Disney reinforcing society's most hateful negative obesity stereotyping, and if they are overweight or obese - what kid doesn't want to be made to feel like a personal failure while on a Disney family vacation?
Apparently, Disney got the word and has kicked the "Habit," so to speak. There is no word yet, on the other hand, regarding what if anything may come of the "Habit Heroes."
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