Theme Park Insider

There's One Fewer Flag Now in Epcot's American Adventure

July 9, 2015, 12:20 AM · Walt Disney World has removed a Confederate flag from among the flags hanging in the entrance hallway at the American Adventure theater in Epcot.

This is the latest example of businesses and governments across the country removing Confederate flags from public display after an alleged white supremacist killed several members of an African Methodist Episcopal church in South Carolina last month. The flag removed from Epcot is not the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia most commonly associated with the Confederacy, thanks to its adoption in early 20th century by the Ku Klux Klan and later revival in the 1950s and 60s by southerners in opposition to the civil rights movement. The flag that had hung in the American Adventure was the last official flag of the Confederate States of America, a white field with a red stripe on one end and small representation of the familiar battle flag in the opposite corner.

Epcot flags
Photo via Matthew Gottula

The American Adventure show in Epcot has won praise from many visitors for its sensitive handling of the American Civil War, using the original song "Two Brothers" to illustrate a metaphorical split in an American family caused by the war. (The song also has played during "Great Moments wit Mr. Lincoln" at Disneyland.)

That said, the attraction is the American Adventure and, ultimately, a Confederate flag is not an American flag. It's actually the antithesis of one — the flag of a territory that took up arms in treason against the United States of America. So one could say that removing it from a display of American flags is not only respectful, it's historically appropriate. Of course, one also could note that the Epcot display includes several flags of other nations that flew over what is now American territory. So... pick a side.

Disney's not the only theme park with a Confederate flag on display, either. Let's not forget that the flag of the Confederacy is one of the "six flags" that flew over Texas, inspiring the name of that theme park chain. Most parks in that chain fly six American flags at their entrances to honor the name (dodging the issue of whether to fly the Confederate flag), but the original Six Flags Over Texas park outside Dallas flies the historical six flags: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederacy, and the United States of America.

The Six Flags

Note that Six Flags also does not fly the battle flag, but instead flies the first official flag of the Confederacy, the "stars and bars" that more than 90 percent of visitors probably could not identify as a Confederate flag. (It's the third from the left in the photo above.) As that flag wasn't adopted as a symbol by the Klan or opponents of civil rights, it doesn't have the same cultural significance or emotional impact as the battle flag. Which one could suppose with little risk is why Six Flags is flying it rather than one of the other versions of the Confederate flag that do include the battle flag.

Replies (16)

July 9, 2015 at 6:21 AM · I know there are a lot of Native Americans (First Nation)who find the American flag to be just as offensive any flag that flew in representation of the Confederate States of America. After all, the United States government over a nearly one hundred year period killed and displaced millions of Native Americans. Maybe then to as not to offend we should take down that symbol of hate as well.

I'm not really being serious here. I'm just making the point that a symbol can mean different things to different people and to deny our history and take down a legitimate flag in an American history exhibit that HEAVILY features the Civil War seems over the top. I am not a southerner nor a racist (my whole family is a mixture of different races, religions and cultures) but this whole thing is starting to head down a slippery slope that I'm not entirely comfortable with.

July 9, 2015 at 7:18 AM ·
July 9, 2015 at 8:23 AM · Talk about the definition of over reacting. There's something completely different about displaying a flag in a hall of flags that flew over the country and flying the flag of a traitorous nation over the grounds of a state capitol.

This flag at the American Adventure is clearly there to inform, not to celebrate the Confederacy.

July 9, 2015 at 8:28 AM · Great job Disney. It's time to leave all signs of this flag only in history books and that's it.
July 9, 2015 at 9:43 AM · Even if the flag was present to inform rather than celebrate. Epcot is a theme park, even with its increasingly shrinking educational purpose, it is first and foremost mean to entertain. The confederate flag, as the article correctly contends, gained its popularity through its use by the KKK and anti civil rights demonstrators. As a result it is deeply upsetting to a not small number of U.S. Citizens. As a result, Disney had decided to remove the flag to protect the enjoyment and entertainment of guests. As a private company they're allowed, and given that the American Adventure covers the civil war at length they are hardly erasing history. I applaud the move. As to the joke about native Americans, while many are rightfully upset about the past acts of the U.S., I know none who view the flag as a symbol of that nor have anti native people used it in order to strike fear and subordination into the hearts of native Americans in the way that the confederate flag has been used. The American flag is a current and rightful symbol of our country. Let's not compare apples and oranges, it's disrespectful to the experiences of people actually affected.
July 9, 2015 at 10:42 AM · This is a complicated situation. While I understand retailers distancing themselves and the furor over state funded buildings flying the flag, here the flag should still be displayed. Taking the flag down weakens the message museums and historical sites have. Flags are powerful images, and they have been used for truly evil things. But they are also our history, and to whitewash them from museum type environments is a mistake.

The Holocaust Museum actually uses the image in a powerful and striking way. You enter the museum in what looks like a stylized train station and you take an elevator to the start of the tour. Upon those doors opening is a large Nazi flag. It's powerful... And it's used correctly.

Disney isn't flying this flag above the pavilion. Nor are they trumpeting up "southern pride" by displaying it. It's in a museum environment hung along with several other flags that have flown over the Continental United States. Disney was using the flag correctly, but they can do as they wish. In my opinion they are making a mistake in this move. Perhaps they are just removing it for a short time till the political rhetoric dies down. Most people I feel won't notice it being gone, but perhaps therein lies the mistake in its removal.

July 9, 2015 at 10:59 AM · I agree with the previous comments -- removing the flag from a historical setting is over-reacting. The flag they had was appropriate -- the last national of the Confederacy. It's just unfortunate that it happens to have the battle flag incorporated into it. Robert's right -- they could have replaced it with the Stars and Bars and no one would have noticed or cared. Then history would have remained intact.
July 9, 2015 at 12:23 PM · I think the removal makes sense. Instead of focusing on the history, remember that the image of the battle flag is today a symbol representing the hatred of people for their race.

For an African-American visiting the pavilion, looking up to see that symbol is a reminder that some people hate them just for the color of their skin. And some of those people even are willing to kill them.

Of course Disney removed the symbol - people are on vacation and trying to have fun.

It's the same reason I wouldn't expect to see any swastikas, even though they would historically be a perfect fit for the Japan and China pavilions, as an Asian symbol for good luck and prosperity. Despite the historical accuracy, it would still remind any Jewish visitors of the fact there are people who hate them just for their religion.

There are some things people just don't want to be reminded of when they're on vacation with their family. Epcot isn't a history museum.

July 9, 2015 at 1:51 PM · No Epcot isn't a history museum. But the fact is, the American Adventure is set up in such a way that it has to cover the Civil War. It'd be like having a Japanese history film at the Japan pavilion from 1800-2015 and neglecting to acknowledge World War II (<-- This actually happened...). It is whitewashing history. Disney has been really hesitant on building rides and attractions dealing with history as it can have very sensitive subjects. What little they've done has been fantastic, but if you're not willing to deal with the harsh realities of history, especially American History, then perhaps a attraction like this has no place in a theme park that's supposed to be "fun." Imagery is powerful, and slavery was part of the past. Hiding an image doesn't change that, especially since that person who would be offended will see that image and be reminded of the injustices committed in the film.

That all being said Epcot does have a museum in the Morocco Pavilion for what it's worth...

Outside of this discussion though, hardly anyone will notice. Disney is making a move not to feature the flag as to not get embroiled in the furor. Business wise I understand. They don't want to deal with the ill-informed guest that sees a similar flag and is offended by it. That being said it moves us socially backwards when we fail to objectively see our past.

July 9, 2015 at 3:44 PM · Progressive culture at it's finest. Apparently history never happened.
July 9, 2015 at 4:50 PM · I don't see how Disney could make any other choice than to remove that flag. Can you imagine them keeping it there in spite of the fact that the entire country is responding to recent violence by choosing to remove this controversial symbol from public spaces (and rightfully so, in my opinion).

So, let's say theoretically that Disney decides to take no action, and sometime in the near future, someone calls them out publicly for still having that symbol displayed in their park. Then the exact same people who are condemning them here for taking action, will be condemning them for not having done so.

Sometimes we as a society need to portray things the way they should be, and stop using "but that's the way it's always been" as our excuse for not changing what needs to be changed. Kudos to those who are not afraid to lead that charge.

July 9, 2015 at 4:59 PM · Like others said, Disney is not trying to celebrate the confederacy, it is there for a historical reason. Removing a flag seems like it removing part of history.

With SFOT, that is also just historical. There were Six Flags Over Texas, and removing the flag would be changing history.

Although I believe that the flag should be removed from the state capital building, I think there has been a lot of overreaction.

July 10, 2015 at 2:27 PM · " That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

According to that premise, the Confederate flag is very much American. That we don't like it or the ideology is another issue.

Don't forget the American flag protected slavery for nearly 100 years before the Confederate flag, and unequal treatment of minorities for another 100 after. Not to mention the Native American genocide.

By the same irrationale, both the Washington and Jefferson memorials should be removed, as both men owned slaves. Or if we want to be really righteous, the national Capitol should be removed from DC and reconstructed somewhere by free unionised labor, since DC was built by slaves.

Demonizing the Conferderate flag is just the latest PC nonsense, and a rosy view of history.

July 10, 2015 at 7:43 AM · Hey if dems/libs don't like their own flag, it's theirs to take down if they like....
July 10, 2015 at 9:54 PM · I think the flag shou,f have stayed, but then again, I never knew it was up.

American Adevemture is as much of a museaum as the Lincon Library in Springfield. Especially since the American Adventure does such a good way presenting the Civil War, you would think they would want to keep the flag.

Heck, the show deals with Native American genocide

July 14, 2015 at 12:03 PM · Ho boy. I don't think a comprehensive political history lesson is appropriate on a theme park message board, so for now all I'll say is that the Civil War is far more complex and nuanced than what is commonly and widely accepted as a war for the freedom of slaves. In fact, the only reason the war really turned into a 'civil rights' war was because France and Britain were about to send aid to the Confederacy. It's at this point that Lincoln decided to politicize the issue of slavery. Up until then, it was primarily a war fought over the economic implications of slavery and had very little concern for the rights of slaves.

"“I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. And I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. … And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” – Abraham Lincoln in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas in the campaign for the United States Senate on September 18th of 1858.

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