Disney Breaks Boundaries, Iconic Princess May No Longer Be Played By A White Performer

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disney wish the little mermaid

Credit: Disney Parks screenshot

When it comes to Disney breaking the barriers of inclusivity, we can see that the company is striving towards creating a greater tomorrow where everyone can feel that they belong.

Disney Wish Little Mermaid Concept Art
Credit: Disney

Recently, Disney has been under the spotlight after not commenting on Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” bill for so long. After massive outcries from fans, Disney CEO Bob Chapek finally addressed the issue head-on at Disney’s annual shareholder’s meeting where he announced the company would be donating $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign. The Human Rights Campaign stated they would not accept the donation, as they believed The Walt Disney Company was not acting in a “meaningful” way.

Lately, we have seen Disney progress towards a much more inclusive environment when it comes to both their theme parks and on-screen entertainment.

Disney Wish Little Mermaid Concept Art
Credit: Disney

We have seen Cast Member dress code change when it comes to the “Disney Look,” allowing Cast Members to express themselves more while at work. It also allows more opportunity for others who want to work for Disney, as before the change, anyone with visible tattoos that they could not cover with a costume would not be allowed to work. This also existed for certain hairstyles, colors, piercings, nails, and more.

The Walt Disney Company has created an all-new initiative called Reimagining Tomorrow: Where We All Belong. On the new website, it states:

At Disney, inclusion is for everyone.
Reimagine Tomorrow is our way of amplifying underrepresented voices and untold stories as well as championing the importance of accurate representation in media and entertainment. Because we are all greater than a single story and we all deserve to feel seen, heard and understood.

disney wish wdw
Credit: Disney

There is then also a spot for visitors on the site to say what kind of stories they want the world to see. Once you select an option, you can learn more about someone or a project Disney highlights in that category.

Disney has also listed out their intentions for this new initiative.

  • To make progress that ensures our workforce reflects the market.
  • To establish inclusion standards across all Disney General Entertainment content. By 2022, 50% of regular and recurring characters across Disney General Entertainment scripted content will come from underrepresented groups.
  • Over $100M Charitable Giving to programs serving underrepresented communities (Fiscal Year 2020). To ensure we direct more than 50% of our annual charitable giving to programs serving underrepresented communities.
  • To put the responsibility for an inclusive culture in the hands of our leaders and employees through comprehensive education and engagement efforts.

We have started to see iconic Disney characters that have been presented as Caucasian for years such as Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Tinker Bell from Peter Pan be cast by Halle Bailey and Yara Shahidi, two Black actresses for the live-action recreations of the story, but when it comes to the Parks, the princesses we meet are often reflective of their cartoon creation.

mickey and minnie on disney wish deck
Credit: Disney

Now, on the Disney Wish, it seems that the new The Little Mermaid musical may be looking to cast an actress of color to play Ariel. This would be the first time we have seen a Disney performer who is representing a princess in the Parks or on the Disney Cruise Line break from the stereotype that we have seen for years, if Disney does proceed to cast an actress of color as their concept art indicates. We have, however, seen Disney on Broadway break these boundaries in the past with shows like Frozen.

Related: Halle Bailey Posts Photo as Ariel After Wrapping ‘The Little Mermaid’

To see a first look at the new show, click here. 

Disney’s The Little Mermaid will feature innovative theatrical design, dazzling special effects, artistic choreography, and a reimagined script and score that will surprise and delight guests of all ages. “Under the Sea” will be the show’s biggest production number, complete with incredible vocals, show-stopping choreography and plenty of special effects.

Disney Parks shared a video of all the new shows coming to the Wish.

A talented team of Walt Disney Imagineers and Disney entertainment extraordinaries take you “behind the curtain” of the Walt Disney Theatre on the Disney Wish, featuring never-before-seen concept art and footage from the development process. Read more: http://spr.ly/6012KYrmY 

More on the Disney Wish

The ship will be flooded with activities and areas to explore, just as amazing as the suite itself! Captain Minnie and Mickey Mouse will greet you. On top of that, Guests can team up with Moana to navigate their canoes beyond the reef, helping Tiana cook up the perfect pot of her father’s favorite gumbo, summoning Tinker Bell to give the Disney Wish an extra dash of pixie dust and diving into the East Australian Current (EAC) with Nemo and friends. Check out more of the offerings below!

disney wish funnel
Credit: Disney

More on Disney’s Mission of Inclusivity

Walt Disney Theater Disney Wish
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Park Moves Toward Inclusion, Changes Park Greetings

We have already heard of the progress coming along on the new Princess and the Frog attraction that will replace Splash Mountain’s racist undertone scenes due to the Song of the South IP, as well as changing the storyline on both Walt Disney World Resort’s and Disneyland Resort’s Jungle Cruise attraction to ensure cultural appropriation disappears.

If you want to visit the new site for Reimagining Tomorrow, click here. 

What do you think of Disney’s potential decision to be more inclusive with their casting? 

Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Disneyland Resort, including Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure, and the Downtown Disney District. Or what about Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district!

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