Last week Kings Dominion announced that it was going to rename one of its roller coasters from Rebel Yell to Racer 75. The ’75’ refers to 1975, the year that the ride opened. And of course ‘Racer’ refers to its ride design featuring two tracks where trains race each other throughout its hilly course. The name is also reminiscent of similar ride Racer at sister park Kings Island.
The move has been met with serious opposition by some fans.
Disgusted with the name change. Caving in to such ridiculousness. There is just no end to this madness. I’ve been going to this park for years but now it’s tainted.
Absolutely ridiculous that you are changing the name of the Rebel Yell. We all know why… your pleasing the pc crowd. NOTHING was wrong with its name! You caved! Shame on KD
Well I am sad to say that after being season pass holders for 20+ years my family will NOT be returning this year! With the news of the name change of the Rebel Yell being the last straw. That was the only ride from when the park opened that had never changed and now this I guess we will start going to Bush Gardens from now on!
Landon Sampsell We will never go there again. Changing the name of the Rebel Yell is turning your back on everything that made you what you are. You should all be fired.
My History with the Rebel Yell
As someone who grew up an hour from the park and rode Rebel Yell countless times, I thought I’d give my personal take. While the connection to the Civil War was obvious, the name never bothered me. In Virginia battlefields, monuments, and references to the area’s history are very common. So it made sense that something with the name ‘rebel’ in it was referencing the nickname given to the Confederates in the Civil War. Also, Kings Dominion had an Old Virginia area and cues that it was trying to include some connections to the state. It just felt like another local reference, but not a celebration of the Confederacy.
Not only did the name not bother me or hinder my enjoyment of the ride or park, I don’t remember anyone having an issue with the name or even making comments about its origins. I’m only speaking for myself and the people I encountered. I don’t claim to speak for or represent anyone.
As I got older and became someone who writes about and thinks about theme parks, I did find the name a little odd for an amusement attraction given the history it was tied to. But again, I was never personally offended and never knew anyone who was. And I never even thought about the park changing the name.
So Why Change the Name? Imagine You’re an Entertainment Company
As any company or public organization has to do in the era we’re in, I assume Cedar Fair and Kings Dominion did a calculation. They considered the chances that someone would be upset by a name with ties to a Confederacy battle cry. Even though I can’t think of a past event where anyone was upset or protested, it could happen. Then, they considered the potential blow-back against a name change versus the size of the park’s visitor-base that wouldn’t care or would even support the move.
For anyone who runs an entertainment business where word of mouth and controversy can hurt you, the decision was pretty clear in my opinion. I can’t imagine there are enough outraged people who will boycott a theme park because a ride changes names. Even though you can definitely find some on Kings Dominion’s Facebook page. I understand the outrage to the overarching politically correct trend, but I feel that it’s misplaced this time.
Don’t Worry, Renaming Roller Coasters Can’t Erase History
The name, Rebel Yell, was nothing more than a nod to the region’s history by a multi-park company trying to be relevant to Virginians. I can’t see how the purpose of the roller coaster was to teach anyone about the Civil War or the Confederacy. I don’t remember ever seeing any historical theming or educational features. It was just a name. So the arguments that this is another move to erase history aren’t accurate in my opinion.
I do understand how the move may look like the recent trend happening around the country to remove Confederate statues and monuments. To me, those moves are deserving of criticisms about erasing history, but I wouldn’t put a roller coasters and a monument in the same category or even in the same discussion.
This is just a (smart) calculation by a company looking to avoid a potential PR crisis which these days comes fast, often, and from ever angle. They might as well rip this sticky band-aid off during the off season rather than endure some kind of huge controversy during the season.
What’s Your Take?
What do you think about Rebel Yell being renamed, Racer 75? Do you support the move? Do you wish they’d keep the name. Leave a comment below.