Little Girl Barred From Entering Disney Store Gets Magical Gift

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Disney Store interior

Credit: Disney

In March 2021, while The Walt Disney Company was still heavily enforcing face mask mandates at Disney Parks and Disney Store locations, then 8-year-old Alexis LaGrega was barred from entering her local Disney Store because she could not wear a mask with ear loops.

disney store mall of america
Credit: Disney

Related: After Devastating Fans With Closures, Reimagined Disney Store Is Officially Opening

At the time, New York City news station PIX 11 reported on the situation:

…Alexis LaGrega, 8, was wearing a double ply Neck Gaiter.

She was born with a condition called Microtia; her right ear is small and misshapen and she is partially deaf in that ear. She said when she has attempted to wear a face covering with ear loops, it often slides down her face and is painful. She wears a Neck Gaiter to school, to dance class and cheerleading without any objections from anyone .

Holly LaGrega, Alexis’s mother, said she spoke with the salespeople and store manager about her daughter’s condition. “Even after I pointed it out and explained, it was like they could care less what I said. They just kept saying store policy is she has to have a mask on with ear loops,” she said. The family was turned away.

Disney Store display
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Related: Disney Enforces Face Mask Policy, Denies Guests Entry to Pop Century

A Disney spokesperson shared the following with PIX 11:

“We are always focused on the health and safety of our Cast Members and Guests. At all of our Disney stores we have implemented a number of enhanced measures, including a face covering requirement. During these unprecedented times we all have a shared responsibility to do our part. We regret if Guests are disappointed.” 

It is worth noting that Disney never allowed neck gaiters at any of their theme parks — including Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort properties — Disney Stores, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, or beach resort properties — Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort — while pandemic protocols were being enforced. Now, though, face mask mandates have been lifted across all domestic Disney Resort properties.

Guests wearing face masks at disneyland resort
Credit: Disney

Related: Fans Speak Out Regarding Disney’s MAJOR Face Mask Policy Update

And, despite last year’s unfortunate Disney Store situation, Alexis has been given a magical gift courtesy of a Beverly Hills surgeon — the little girl was given corrective surgery at no cost. Per New York City’s NBC News 4 shared that California-based Small Wonders Foundation, which helps children born with facial differences get reconstructive surgery, discovered LaGrega’s story and reached out to the family.

The news report shared:

Two weeks ago, Dr. John Reinisch, a pediatric plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, performed the surgery.

“It was weird, but cool at the same time,” LaGrega said of seeing her new ear for the first time on Friday.

Reinisch explained that the new ear comes from a polyethylene mold covered with tissue taken from under the scalp. The swelling is expected to go down in a few months, Reinisch added.

Holly LaGrega, Alexis’ mother, said she never thought this day would come.

“It’s mind-blowing,” her mother said. “You hear about families where these things happen. I never thought it would happen for us.”

disney face masks sign
Credit: ITM

Related: Princesses Are Back With No Masks Indoors. Are Disney Guests Next?

Alexis told NBC that she is “happy, like really happy.”

The Staten Island Disney Store location where Alexis was denied entry was among the hundreds of stores The Walt Disney Company has closed since March 2021.

Disney Store at Target
Credit: Target

Related: Target Starts Installing More Disney “Shop-in-Shop” Locations!

Disney’s original announcement regarding the closures noted:

Over the next year Disney will focus on providing a more seamless, personalized and franchise-focused ecommerce experience through its shopDisney platform which will be complemented by greater integration with Disney Parks apps and social media platforms. This will be coupled with an assortment of new and elevated merchandise from the Company’s full range of brands, including adult apparel collections and artist collaborations, trend-forward streetwear, premium home products and collectibles.

What do you think about Alexis’s life-changing surgery?

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