Why Changing Rebel Yell’s Name is the Right Move

Theme Park News

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.

Rebel Yell Renamed Racer 75 - Kings Dominion

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.

Rebel Yell Renamed Racer 75 - Kings Dominion - 750

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.

Photo Credit
Image used under CC by Mr. Gray.

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

8 Comments

  1. I honestly don’t see what the big deal is……but then again, I’ve never visited KD nor grew up in the south. I suppose if they renamed my beloved ‘American Eagle’ @SFGAm here in northern chicago, I’d be fairly upset. But I wouldn’t protest the park or refuse to ever return there again, that’s an overly extreme reaction. ‘Racer 75’ is fine, as long as they actually RACE the trains!

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  2. I find this to be a case of much ado about nothing but then I never read anything into the name Rebel Yell. To me it was just a name given to a coaster, devoid of any historical or political significance. I think that this is an overreaction but understand the logic of removing a name that might possibly be offensive to a small minority. We live in an era in which some people are always going to find fault with something that isn’t politically correct. So OK, change the name. But Racer 75? That is really lame. As lame as Apple Zapple, as the park’s wild mouse coaster has been renamed. Give me a break!

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  3. As one of those small minority it has never really bothered me either. It is what it is. Hopefully the wood work they are doing will justify the new and “improved” name. Otherwise I would hate to see a Dueling Dragons -> Dragon Challenge -> scrap heap project happen. Yeah…

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  4. Oh i’m sorry for being an activist SJW hybrid, Racer 75 is a stupid name and not catchy, Apple Zapple is catchy but not “Racer 75” King’s Island’s Racer is catchy because it is simple. Yes, I305 is catchy, but it can’t be applied on to every coaster, also, this is 90 feet tall, not 75

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  5. Oddly enough, as a kid, I didn’t ponder that name’s meaning until after I had ridden it several times. Honestly, at first, I thought more about the Billy Idol song. 🙂 Once I became more conscious of the significance of the name, I did find it awkward. I mean, its sister coaster, at Carowinds, is called Thunder Road (with its cousin White Lightening) Both are cultural references without making political statements. Why did they HAVE to choose such a name in the first place? All the haters should be happy for a name change instead of losing it completely (RIP Thunder Road)

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    • As one of the “minority” that might get offended, I am certainly not. In fact, I’m kind of disappointed. Rebel Yell is way better name than “Racer75”. That’s just awful. But more importantly, we cannot white wash history (forgive that wording, please!). We have to acknowledge and accept our past. We have to know and understand it in order for us to understand who we are today. Especially for those of us from the south. Management can rename it all they want. Just like the “Big Lot Stunt Coaster” is still Italian Job, the Crypt is still Tomb Raider, Drop Tower is still Drop Zone, the Racer75 will always be THE REBEL YELL!

      Reply
  6. I think you hit the nail on the head on this. I can appreciate why some people are upset though. Thinking of that happening to some of my favorite rides at my home parks in Central Florida, I would probably be upset about a ride losing its identity. That being said, I think taking offense to the name change, claiming it is rewriting history, and refusing to ever go to the park again is just downright silly. The park did what they thought was best. In the end, the ride experience is still the same. It is only a name. I have been on Rebel Yell before and after the name change, and it is still the same fun ride.

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  7. Just went to Kings Dominion with my 7 and 9 year old sons. We traveled all the way from our home in the Virgin Islands so they could experience the rides I loved as a kid growing up in DC in the 1980s. We had a fantastic time but renaming an icon like this should be done with more concern for the memories of those who grew up with those icons. As this article mentioned the rebel yell is not an offensive name. Changing it just seems to serve no purpose and make the park seem more bland. Even my 7 year old commented that racer 75 is a dumb name and both my boys still called it the rebel yell. It won’t be undone but it was a mistake to change the name of an icon!

    Reply

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