Universal Orlando Play Area Among Dropped Dr. Seuss Titles

March 2, 2021, 12:12 PM · The company that licenses Dr. Seuss announced today that it has stopped publishing six of the late author's children's books, including one that provides the theme for a play area at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises issued the statement on the Seussville website:

Today, on Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises celebrates reading and also our mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship.

We are committed to action. To that end, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, working with a panel of experts, including educators, reviewed our catalog of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing of the following titles: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer. These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.

Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.

"If I Ran the Zoo" is also a maze/play area in the Seuss Landing land at Islands of Adventure, so Dr. Seuss Enterprises' decision to stop licensing that title could affect the future of that attraction.

Granted, I suspect that many of the guests who wander through this area fail to notice its name and that a measurable percentage of those who do happen to note the name do not connect it to a Dr. Seuss book. The 1950 book has been chastised for its racist stereotyping of African and Asian people, though I don't recall that any of those depictions were reproduced at the park, where the focus is on the book's imaginary animals. (Confession time: My kids are in their 20s now, so it's been years since I spent any significant time in that attraction. Correct me in the comments, please, if my memory is wrong about the play area.)

I have reached out to Universal Orlando for comment and will update this post when I receive it.

Update: Here is the response from a Universal Orlando spokesperson, "Seuss Landing continues to be very popular with our guests and we value our relationship with Seuss Enterprises. We’ve removed the books from our shelves as they have asked and we’ll be evaluating our in-park experience too. But our guests can plan on continuing to be able to enjoy their favorite experiences at Seuss Landing."

For what it's worth, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" was the first book I remember reading, so I felt a pang of nostalgia seeing its name on that list. That one got dinged for its "Chinese man with sticks" caricature.

Coincidentally, my newspaper column this week addresses the issue of racial stereotyping, so I am not about to attack the decision to withdraw Mulberry Street. Furthermore, Dr. Seuss Enterprises owns the work - at least for the next 12 years, when books from 1937 are scheduled to enter the public domain. It has every right to stop selling or licensing its properties in the meantime.

And having raised two kids now, I am happy to report that there are many more great children's books out there that can entice kids into a lifetime of reading, so Dr. Seuss has no monopoly there.

* * *
We wanted you to read this article before we make our newsletter pitch, unlike so many other websites. If you appreciate that — and our approach to covering theme park news — please sign up for our free, twice-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.

Replies (35)

March 2, 2021 at 12:19 PM

good stuff as always, robert.

seems like this is a pretty easy fix for universal (namely, changing it to either Generic Seuss Stuff or flipping to a new book).

March 2, 2021 at 12:23 PM

I’m over this cancel culture. If people don’t like something either don’t buy it, watch it, read it, listen to it.....It’s getting ridiculous that people can’t even think for theirselves. Most people wouldn’t notice half the stuff being mentioned if it wasn’t being brought up on the crazy news media.

March 2, 2021 at 12:54 PM

I'm over these crocodile tears from the right about Cancel Culture. The right has been cancelling theatres, elections, Books, Comics, Movies, and even Christmas since well before Oliver Cromwell was knee high to a grasshopper.

The difference I see is that when the right do it, its to enforce a particular negative view. After its first season airing the Right told us Janine in the Real Ghostbusters Cartoons we were told was bad for kids because she was an independent woman who wore skirts, wasn't a mother figure, and wore glasses with spikes, and Winston - the only black guy had to drive the car to ensure there was a well defined role for him - failure to make these changes would see the series (which had just won awards and was the number 1 animated show) cancelled.

I'm not going to cry if a few depictions of racist characters are removed from early kids reading books. Nor should you.

We're not talking about the classics like Huck Finn or Oliver Twist (which has a very racist depiction of Fagin, which was dicussed in BBC Dayime Kids Educational programming) which they can analyse when they hit double digits and have the conversation about how things change. We're talking about early readers, when kids are still trying to learn to tell the difference between Cat, Hat, Fox and Socks.

And given thats what these books were designed to do - teach kids to read, I don't think Seuss would really object to if a potential barrier to getting kids to read is removed.

March 2, 2021 at 12:50 PM

As pointed out, it's the actual Seuss company doing this, not some politician or even a library/school board.

The "Cancel Culture" label is just a buzzword now. See them using it on Disney putting up warnings for The Muppets ignoring (A) it's just a warning (B) the full episode airs unedited, (C) it's for the premiere of the show on Disney+ and (D) the Muppet Show was already canceled in 1981.

And by the way, that still leaves over 40 Seuss books perfectly okay so no, not being "canceled." This is just a minor thing for the park and sure 99.9% of those visiting could care less about it being dropped.

March 2, 2021 at 2:15 PM

I am of 2 minds regarding this.

First, societal norms will continue to change for as long as humans roam the universe. What is acceptable and customary today has the potential to become offensive and/or repugnant tomorrow. However, that should not affect long-dead person's place in history and posterity.

Second, those that immediately label actions/events "Cancel Culture" may not necessarily be utilizing the term correctly, but should still have the right to have their opinion heard as a potential warning sign of what in my day was called "political correctness" run amok.

As MikeW notes, it was the Seuss Company that made the decision to halt printing of the 6 titles that portray negative stereotypes of minorities. However, MikeW failed to add that the decision was made because of consultation with a number of academics, literary critics and experts, teachers, and readers. Of the numerous stories I've read regarding the halt in publication, I haven't been able to determine whether the Seuss Company independently sought feedback regarding their catalogue or if the review arose from complaints and criticism of certain titles that the Seuss Company publishes. Personally, I think those details are important to determine whether these redactions were produced through an honest and open review of the company's catalogue or if it was capitulation to a privileged minority that had the resources to pressure a major company to change it's long standing publications. Certain people would call this "Cancel Culture" regardless of how these titles were removed from publication, but in my view, the term should only apply to the latter.

In any event, I think it's important to listen to all sides, because what may appear in current views as minor capitulations to neuter or eliminate questionable titles could one day become the nightmare scenario described in "Fahrenheit 451". Nibbles on the fringes of our culture could eventually become larger until we no longer have any culture left because everyone is afraid of saying, doing, or depicting anything for fear of being labelled a racist, misogynist, homophobic, or some other derogatory term. Just the simple act of the Seuss Company releasing their statement today (on Seuss' birthday no less) brought forth well-known columnists to posit that the author was racist. Certainly, one can make that argument based on today's societal norms, but to attribute that term to someone who lived in a very different world is not only unfair, but libelous to the point where the man's legacy is forever tarnished.

That is where "Cancel Culture" needs to be highlighted. Just because a person has a catalogue of dozens of beloved books compared to a handful of questionable depictions and word choices, the actions and opinions of a select few that feel that they are the moral compass of society, can forever impugn and devalue a life's work. The "smarter than thou" group of elites that scribe for major publications wield enormous power, yet when their rulings are questioned, their critics are libeled, defamed, and placed into a political box to minimize any validity of their counter-argument. The "We Say So" mindset has gotten to the point where we cannot even have a rational, reasoned discussion when it comes to sensitive topics like this.

March 2, 2021 at 2:27 PM

It's a tricky subject to be sure and I can see the concerns of going too far. That said, when I got a copy of "If I Ran the Zoo" for my nephew, it was a recent version that edited out the very racist caricatures of Chinese and African people. So it's not like this is a totally out of left field thing, there have been concerns over little kids seeing this and not understanding it in context of the times.

It can be forgotten how impressionable children are and more so in a world of the Internet and social media exposing them to stuff far faster than in my childhood of the 1980s. My oldest niece is 26 and even she notes how much is different for kids than her in the '90s.

It's tricky, truly tricky and why I try to really avoid too much discussions as seen too many places where it turns into a minefield of bad takes from both sides.

To keep it to this particular site/story rather than huge long-range debate, this is a minor bit for one minor segment of a theme park and shouldn't be too bad an issue for Universal compared to other concerns.

March 2, 2021 at 2:33 PM

@Russell - thank you!!!! As usual, you said a lot of what I was thinking, only in a much more thoughtful and eloquent way. I agree completely. We're on a very slippery slope of using today's moral compass to judge the actions of people who lived in a very different age. We should use those differences for discussion and education instead of trying to pretend they never existed.

March 2, 2021 at 2:33 PM

worth noting you can’t slander a dead man. probably also worth noting how hilarious it is to posit powerful, privileged people are responsible for ... condemning racist tropes of minorities??

March 2, 2021 at 5:20 PM

>>The "smarter than thou" group of elites that scribe for major publications wield enormous power, yet when their rulings are questioned, their critics are libeled, defamed, and placed into a political box to minimize any validity of their counter-argument. The "We Say So" mindset has gotten to the point where we cannot even have a rational, reasoned discussion when it comes to sensitive topics like this.

Except its always been this way. Have a read of J Michael Strazynski's Becoming Superman for his experiences with Broadcast Standards and Practices and pressure from Parental Groups, the differences are only in who is doing it and their motivation.

March 2, 2021 at 5:59 PM

I'm personally not at all upset by this. Firstly, this is not "cancel culture". Removing a select portion of works from print based on specific racially insensitive is not an overreaction. "Cancelling" would be outing Dr Seuss as a racist and stopping the sales of all his works, that's not happening here. None of these books are even in his top 10 in sales.

Secondly, it is a decision by the publishers themselves. Perhaps there was some external influence, but I remember If I ran the Zoo and the Cat's Quizzer and the images in those were easily identifiable as promoting negative racial stereotypes.

I don't think all "art" (using the term broadly here) with insensitive features should be removed from the public realm. I personally believe that if you don't learn from mistakes, you're destined to repeat them. These things need to be discussed though. Statues of confederate generals don't belong in a town square, nor should they be destroyed. They should be put in an appropriate place where discussion can take place regarding their context. Perhaps a Museum, perhaps an arts precinct, perhaps somewhere else.

The specific issue with Dr Seuss' works is that these are children's books. They are targeted at an audience who do not have a filter. They have no way of appreciating that these were books written in a time where different cultures were caricatures and the harm of negative stereotypes was not understood. Perhaps these books can be discussed in the classroom or a library, but kids reading them at home can continue to promote these negative stereotypes to the detriment of the community.

Is the term culturally insensitive going to vary based on what is the societal norm is at the time? Certainly. This may change in the future, but these books are not being burned and they are not being eliminated from record. In this instance this should not be a big concern anyway. These books do not contain any particular insight into culture or society other than to show how these things were portrayed in children's books prior to the 1980s.

I agree that censorship can be a slippery slope, but the upbringing of children to be understanding and informed is the responsibility of everyone. If these books can be taught in context that's great, but I dare say there's probably a lot of examples of negative cultural stereotypes that can be used to illustrate these points to the young.

March 2, 2021 at 6:21 PM

Like Robert mentioned, there are none of the offensive images currently found in Seuss Landing, so no need to get so worked up folks...

March 2, 2021 at 8:56 PM

probably a good piece to read

https://twitter.com/WesleyLowery/status/1366928059224350721

March 2, 2021 at 9:45 PM

Dr. Seuss was a racist and the idea that an entire land dedicated to his works exists is crazy. They need to rebrand the whole area IMO. Don't believe me? Look up the ridiculous ads he drew before his fame. Truly shocking stuff.

March 2, 2021 at 9:48 PM

I’ve seen and taken a side on the argument about cancel culture, and while true cancel culture is undeniably stupid, this probably doesn’t fall under that umbrella. What the commenter above me, @AndrewL, is proposing IS however cancel culture and should be ignored

March 2, 2021 at 10:22 PM

@Chad H said it best: white men have been cancelling everyone else for hundreds of years. Women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, "foreigners," radicals--basically everyone who wasn't a straight, white Christian man. If they thought you were a threat to their hegemony or just picked you to hate that day, you were "cancelled" by being lynched, sent to jail, fired, silenced, mocked, beaten up or just good old shunned.

Now that white men are finally getting cancelled, oh lord help us, we've got to stop this cancel culture, we might be on a slippery slope! Today it's the racist caricatures, tomorrow you won't even be able to tell your secretary how good her legs look! The horror!

Hahah, good on the Seuss Enterprises, by making these moves today they'll help preserve all the great work Dr. Seuss did for future generations. And Universal can easily choose from his other works.

March 3, 2021 at 2:14 AM

If we start removing anyone and everyone who, by today's definition, is 'racist', (or homophobic or a raft of other 'ists') then we will literally have no history left.

"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there". Norms change and society and people improve, realise what was wrong and move on. But removing all trace of the past removes the opportunity to learn, to see how far we have come and more importantly to see WHY we have come so far...

March 3, 2021 at 5:52 AM

Worry, fear and drama about nothing - if Seuss organization wants to cease publication then so what, your life won’t change.

March 3, 2021 at 9:10 AM

https://www.businessinsider.com/before-dr-seuss-was-famous-he-drew-these-sad-racist-ads-2012-3?amp

Lol please look at this and then continue to defend him. What a joke.

March 3, 2021 at 11:55 AM

The loony left is completely, obnoxiously out of control, folks. They've become a horde of bullies, shoving their P.C. ideology down our collective throats and trying to destroy everyone who disagrees with them. And they're the biggest racists and sexists around, i.e. virulently anti-white, anti-male, anti-hetero.

March 3, 2021 at 1:06 PM

>>If we start removing anyone and everyone who, by today's definition, is 'racist', (or homophobic or a raft of other 'ists') then we will literally have no history left.

We're not "removing the past", we're not printing a book that has racist characterisations The books will still exist for those who are studying such things.

>>The loony left is completely, obnoxiously out of control, folks

Oh Cry some more crocodile tears why don't you.

You want to talk bullying and shoving ideology down peoples throat? Mexico City Rule, One Million Moms, Comics Code Authority, ESRB, McCarthyism. You guys on the right have been doing this for decades if not centuries to push your ideology.

But asking people to choose not to be racist is too radical for you?

Here's a book you can buy instead. https://www.memoriapress.com/curriculum/read-alouds/huberts-hairraising-adventure/

March 3, 2021 at 1:50 PM

AndrewL is inadvertently illustrating what could easily happen. He said that Suess was a racist and that there was a land dedicated to him was crazy, and then used some of his early cartoons as a reason why. So because what Suess did in his early life, the rest of the good that he did should be erased.

We could look at a couple of vocally liberal celebrities from today, and by the same standard, they should be booted from the liberal Hollywood entertainment industry:

Whoopi Goldberg starred in a film that villianized a transgender actor (Soap Dish). CANCEL HER!
Rosie O'Donnell openly mocked the language of Asian culture on one of her talk shows. CANCEL HER!

These are just two examples off the top of my head. I'm sure if I wanted to spend the time, I could find others. Of course, we know they won't be cancelled
because they are champions of the Hollywood left.

March 3, 2021 at 2:17 PM

Close the High in the Sky Sleuss Trolley Train ride! My friend, Dave, refuses to ride it as he feels discriminated against.

March 3, 2021 at 2:23 PM

I say close the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train because it’s a worthless ride lol. Although to be fair if I was 2 years old I might feel different

March 3, 2021 at 2:49 PM

Chad wrote this:

>>Oh Cry some more crocodile tears why don't you.

>>You want to talk bullying and shoving ideology down peoples throat? Mexico >>City Rule, One Million Moms, Comics Code Authority, ESRB, McCarthyism. You >>guys on the right have been doing this for decades if not centuries to >>push your ideology.

>>But asking people to choose not to be racist is too radical for you?

I'm talking about today. You're talking about stuff that happened decades ago. Today, the left is completely obnoxious in their behavior, and hypocritical, with their blatant anti-white racism and anti-male sexism.

And no, I'm not right wing at all. I find right wing nutbar ideologues equally obnoxious.

If i may suggest some pertinent literature for you, Chad: read 1984. The left is engaging in much the same oppressive behavior as Big Brother.

March 3, 2021 at 3:15 PM

Oof. Some of you are trying very hard to defend a man that drew cartoons like that. Trust me when I say it says nothing good about you as a person.

March 3, 2021 at 5:06 PM

>>I'm talking about today

Right, lets talk about today where Conservatives don't get to dictate what goes into comics, don't haul people who might be in favour of some other economic system (or they just don't like) in front of congress to label them communusts, but still try to cancel them. It was a lot worse but isn't now, thanks to "the left", and this is what you're worried about??


Whilst this whole seuss thing was going on you probably didn't notice the demand to remove a eurovision song by conservatives did you? Or you forgot about the "marvel boycott" because they dare have LGBTQ characters.

Save your Crocodile tears. I aint buying it. This isn't about "Free speech" this is about losing control. Pure and simple/

>>You're talking about stuff that happened decades ago.

https://www.newsweek.com/one-million-moms-calls-boycott-upcoming-marvel-movie-openly-gay-superhero-1491019

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/02/cypriot-church-calls-for-countrys-eurovision-song-to-be-scrapped

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/04/polish-priest-apologises-for-harry-potter-book-burning

And lets not forget what happened on January 6 when the Right decided they wanted to cancel an election!

>>If i may suggest some pertinent literature for you, Chad: read 1984. The left is engaging in much the same oppressive behavior as Big Brother.

I have read 1984. Evidently you have not or you know why your analogy doesn't work.

Volunarily Deciding not to contnue a book designed to help kids learn to read is not putting it in a memory hole. Nor is it changing a story to remove "badfacts". Its simply not publishing a book that is now identified as having a barrier towards its indended purpose

The book still exists. Digital copies still exist. Not one word or image will be changed on any of them, none of them rounded up and destroyed. I'm sure countless libraries, in particular university libraries will continue to stock it for many many years to come so those who are studying art or how childhood education has changed over the years will be able to access it.

And there will be countless more early readers, including over 30 by Dr Seuss in the shops, and in the children section of libraries.

As with all educational materials, its right to review them every so often. I'm sure even Seuss would support removing any barrier that would prevent kids from learning the joy of reading.

This is a guy who probably wrote the first environemntal book you ever read (which isn't banned), wrote against consumerism, and wrote against racism and for internationalism. I think he's support this, if explained to him - those are very leftist topics.

March 3, 2021 at 8:02 PM

Lousy behavior from right wingers doesn't justify the left's lousy behavior. That's a childish argument: "never mind what I did, look at what HE did!" Grow up. That doesn't even work in the schoolyard.

March 4, 2021 at 1:30 AM

And the minefield I was worried about happened.....

March 4, 2021 at 7:32 AM

>> Lousy behavior from right wingers doesn't justify the left's lousy behavior. That's a childish argument: "never mind what I did, look at what HE did!" Grow up. That doesn't even work in the schoolyard.

Except one is trying actual censorship and radical actions

Other other is asking a rights owner to please discontinue something that is damaging.

If your idea of a “radical agenda” is asking someone nicely to stop something damaging , then I think it’s clear who the real radical is.

March 4, 2021 at 7:46 AM

I still have yet to hear from anyone how they defend the actions of Hollywood liberal mouthpieces Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O'Donnel for their racist and transphobic actions of the past.

Here's another one:

Jimmy Kimmel, host of a current late night TV show, once was the host of "The Man Show", a show that ended each episode with slow motion video of girls in bikinis jumping on trampolines. Furthermore, one of his recurring characters was an imitation of Karl Malone, one where Kimmel changes his voice to a much deeper tone and performs the imitation WHILE WEARING BLACKFACE. Yet Kimmel is still on TV nightly and works behind the scenes as a producer.

So, again, I ask for explanations as to why these individuals are not cancelled for their actions of the past.

For the record, then only thing that really offends me is hypocrisy. What's good (or bad) for conservatives should be the same standards as for liberals.

March 4, 2021 at 1:46 PM

The silent, long-suffering majority in North America (I'm Canadian) is being assaulted by extremists on both sides, right and left, who are drunk on their ideology and so obnoxiously sure that they're right. Just a couple examples: looting, burning, violent protests/riots from the left, the storming of the Capitol Building from the right. That's what I was getting at. Most of us are caught in the middle of these insane ideological wars. It goes far, far beyond some Dr. Seuss books.

But since this is a theme park forum and not a political one, that will be last statement on the matter. Chad will keep arguing 'til he's blue in the face. People like that are best ignored anyway. Peace out.

March 4, 2021 at 2:41 PM

>>I still have yet to hear from anyone how they defend the actions of Hollywood liberal mouthpieces Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O'Donnel for their racist and transphobic actions of the past.

As neither of them expressed such views in a book designed to teach preschoolers how to read, that doesn't seem really relevant. There's no book to ask to be reconsidered.

March 4, 2021 at 4:46 PM

Washington Post: 'The public reaction has had the opposite effect that some expected. This decision is driving a surge of support for Seuss' classics. Dozens of his books shot to the top of Amazon's best selling list. On Thursday morning, 9 of the the site's Top Ten Best Sellers were Seuss books"...The people are speaking with their wallets. I'm sure Seuss Landing at Universal will be there for a long time.

March 4, 2021 at 5:53 PM

@Chad H: That's a very poor answer, especially since openly conservative Roseanne Barr was cancelled in Hollywood for her racist tweet. I don't think Twitter is designed for preschoolers.

Good try, though. Still waiting for a liberal to defend Jimmy Kimmel's past.

March 4, 2021 at 9:58 PM

*Sigh*

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Shop Discounted Tickets

Theme Park Guides

Get Our Newsletter