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Dutch amusement park to change ‘racist’ Asian and African dolls, but ‘cannibal carousel’ to stay

  • Efteling amusement park, which opened in 1952, plans to update offensive stereotypical African and Asian dolls on its Carnaval Festival ride
  • The park’s Monsieur Cannibale carousel, however, will not be altered
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2019, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2019, 1:01pm

The Netherlands’ biggest amusement park will update a popular ride to change controversial African and Asian dolls that campaigners have branded racist.

The Efteling park said the updates to the Carnaval Festival ride would give it an “appearance that fits better with the current era, traditional African costumes instead of nose rings for example”.

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Asian dolls featuring slanted eyes and long front teeth would also be changed on the 35-year-old ride, the theme park in the southern Netherlands said in a statement.

Negative reaction to the dolls came particularly from international visitors and media who “did not grow up with the attraction”, NOS television’s website quoted park spokeswoman Femke van Es as saying.

But the park had no plans to change another ride called Monsieur Cannibale, which features a black cannibal in the middle of a carousel with cooking pots.

Anti-racism campaigners have long called on the park to change both attractions and staged a protest there in 2016, NOS reported.

At the time, the Stop Oppressive Stereotypes group criticised both Carnaval Festival and Monsieur Cannibale as “offensive and extreme racist rides”.

Efteling opened in 1952 and bills itself as one of Europe’s largest amusement parks, attracting 5.18 million visitors in 2017, according to its website.

Widely seen as tolerant and liberal on issues such as cannabis, prostitution and euthanasia, the Netherlands faces pressure to change on a number of other social and cultural issues.

A blackface sidekick to Santa Claus known as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) provokes an annual controversy over accusations that he is a racist stereotype.

Critics say Zwarte Piet’s Afro hair, black skin, red lips and earrings are a reminder of the era when the Netherlands exploited slaves, notably in the South American former colony Suriname.