Parent Sends Open Letter to Disney, “You Can Do a Better Job”

in Disney, Disney Parks, Movies & TV

screenshots from savingsadierae on TikTok, parent open letter to disney

Credit: @savingsadierae on TikTok

Since The Walt Disney Company was founded almost a century ago, they have created countless memories for generations, with timeless stories, two top-rated theme parks in America, and a legacy that will surely last one century more.

Walt Disney hosting 1960s Wonderful World of Disney on TV
Credit: Disney

However, many fans of the company have recently voiced their opinions, as they have problems identifying with some of their favorite stories, as they argue that Disney is not doing enough when it comes to inclusion in Disney movies and series, as well as inclusion and accessibility at Disney Parks.

Disney is constantly making efforts to become more inclusive. While many consider these small steps to be headed in the right direction, some fans think the company could do a better job.

disney adaptive halloween costumes and wheelchair covers
Credit: Disney

The parent of a disabled child recently sent an open letter to Disney, thanking the company for providing hours of entertainment with movies she and her daughter love while also asking The Walt Disney Company to “do a better job” when it comes to inclusion and representation in their stories. This letter was sent out through a video the parent posted on Instagram (@savingsadierae) and reads as follows:

Dear Disney, I wanted to send a quick thank you and ask you a favor. 

Thank you for providing me and now my daughter with hours of entertainment. We love your movies and especially the princesses. We appreciate your effort in making more diverse princesses, but we are still waiting for the princess my daughter Sadie can relate to.

Did you know that 1 in 10 people have a rare disease like Sadie? One in four people are disabled. After doing some research, we did learn that Elsa was Disney’s first disabled princess. Sadie is obsessed with Frozen and Elsa; we watched it hundreds of times but never would have guessed that Elsa is disabled. So, no offense, but we think you can do a better job of representing disabilities than an ice queen with magical powers.

For example, Sadie has Sanfilippo Syndrome, which is a type of childhood dementia. Her magical power is joy; despite a grim future, she celebrates each moment. I´m not saying that the princess has to have Sanfilippo syndrome, but I just want someone that children can relate to and look up to. A bonus is that you’ll teach acceptance to neurotypical kids at the same time.

We know the Disney team is very creative, there are thousands of diseases and disabilities, and if you’re looking for a name for the new addition to Disney, we think princess Sadie has a nice ring to it.

Thank you, Disney movies.

(l-r) queen iduna, anna, elsa, and king agnar in frozen II
Credit: Disney

The video was accompanied by the following caption, talking about some examples of Disney characters that could represent viewers with disabilities and asking viewers to help get this message to Disney:

We need your help getting @disney to see this! Please tag them or send to anyone that you know on the leadership team.

We love Disney and think they could do so much good if they made a disabled princess! I know they’ve made attempts in the past but they can do better.

I doubt many of us saw Elsa as disabled. And I get it, many disabilities are invisible. But how were we supposed to know?

Nemo has a “lucky fin” that makes him disabled. But this was done by Pixar before they were acquired by Disney.

We’ve heard about two newer shows on Disney+ called Float and Loop that deal with disabilities and we can’t wait to check them out.

But we want Disney to bring a princess with special needs to the big screen! Think about how much inclusion and acceptance that could bring to the world.

Thank you for your help! 

Sadie’s mom also posted the video on her TikTok account @savingsadierae. You can see the video below or click here to watch it.

Please help us get this to @Disney! #inclusionmatters #disney #frozen #sanfilipposyndrome #careaboutrare #savingsadierae

@savingsadierae

Please help us get this to @Disney! #inclusionmatters #disney #frozen #sanfilipposyndrome #careaboutrare #savingsadierae

♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) – Danilo Stankovic

The video has received almost 10K likes and hundreds of comments across both platforms but still hasn’t received the desired attention from The Walt Disney Company. While some may consider this request farfetched, The Walt Disney Company continues to show its commitment to becoming more diverse and inclusive throughout its different branches.

Inclusion in Disney movies and series

Again, The Walt Disney Company has recently taken several actions to become more diverse and inclusive, hoping that it will be a source of inspiration to all the world. From the stories they create to the company’s workforce, keeping representation, inclusivity, diversity, and a feeling of belonging, The Walt Disney Company, continues to take small steps in the right direction.

Raya is gay - Kelly Marie Tran comments
Credit: Disney

Related: Raya From ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ to Be Crowned Official Disney Princess

What does inclusion mean to Disney?

The Walt Disney Company has a strong commitment to inclusion and diversity and has even implemented a program to translate its intentions into actions. This commitment is described by the company’s social responsibility website as follows:

World of Belonging

At Disney, inclusion is for everyone. We reimagine tomorrow as our way of amplifying underrepresented voices and untold stories as well as championing the importance of accurate representation in media and entertainment.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Walt Disney Company’s goal for a reimagined tomorrow demands transparency and accountability. From our people and culture to our content and experiences, we are working together to translate our intentions into actions.

Mei Mei and friends in Turning Red
Credit: Pixar

Diversity in Disney media

In recent years, The Walt Disney Company has taken a more diverse and inclusive approach to the stories the company creates. This has involved the inclusion of characters and stories based on different cultures, like Coco (2017), Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), Turning Red (2022), and Encanto (2021).

Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear (left) and Uzo Aduba as Hawthorne (right)
Credit: Pixar Animation / Disney

This has recently extended to include LGBTQIA+ characters in productions like Lightyear (2022) and Baymax (2022)While the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters in these stories has been controversial, to say the least, and they may not have played a central role in the story yet, seeing characters representing the LGBTQIA+ community is exciting to many. There is also an upcoming film that will feature the first openly gay teen romance in Disney film history, Strange World, slated for November 23, 2022.

The company’s website states the following regarding representation in content:

Content

We believe that forging meaningful connections with our consumers contributes to the growth and viability of the Company, so we purposefully champion a multitude of voices and perspectives.

Our intention is to broaden access and diversity in our industry by adopting inclusion standards across Disney General Entertainment and live-action Studio* productions by the end of 2022, with the goal of advancing representation in front of and behind the camera, in marketing and more.

The cast of 'Encanto'
Credit: Disney

Inclusive Storytelling

We champion a multitude of voices in our storytelling across dimensions of diversity, including racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, gender, LGBTQ+, mental health, people with disabilities and veterans status. While we are proud of our inclusive storytelling, we recognize that we still have much to do and will continue to work to increase representation and change narratives.

Disney’s attempts to be more inclusive

Disney’s efforts to become more inclusive and diverse extend to some of the most popular and beloved creations by The Walt Disney Company, Disneyland Resort, and Walt Disney World Resort. The company’s actions at the Parks include the reimagining of attractions that depict inappropriate stereotypes, the adjustment of the Cast Member dress code, and most recently, the change to the name of one of the most popular roles in the Park.

Josh D'Amaro on inclusion at Disney Parks
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Related: Cast Member Speaks Out Regarding The Importance of Inclusion at Disney

What is The Walt Disney Company’s commitment to diversity?

Disney is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, seeking to “Reimagine Tomorrow” through several programs and actions to promote inclusion within the company and in its productions. These programs include actions regarding community, culture, content, and people.

The Walt Disney Company’s website state the following regarding its commitment to diversity:

People and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The more our consumers worldwide are reflected in our workforce, the better we’re able to serve them authentically. When our employees know that Disney culture supports their professional development and advancement, they can be authentic, contribute freely, and take pride in our company.

Culture and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We strive to design work environments that inspire optimism, and drive innovation for employees, at all levels. And because we recognize that maintaining an inclusive, supportive workplace requires mindful attention and intention, we continually adapt to the evolving needs of our people.

Disney new cast member dress code
Credit: The Walt Disney Company

LGBTQIA+ representation across the Walt Disney Company

Perhaps the most notable example of the recent diversity and inclusivity efforts by The Walt Disney Company has been the effort to improve the representation of the LGBTQIA+ community. From changes to dress policies applicable to Cast Members to the creation of the “Inclusion Key.” This key was described by Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, in a 2021 post by Disney Parks Blog as follows:

Inclusion is essential to our culture and leads us forward as we continue to realize our rich legacy of engaging storytelling, exceptional service, and Disney magic.

We’re bringing the spirit of the Inclusion Key to life across our business. We’re reimagining our attractions to be more inclusive, like upcoming enhancements to Jungle Cruise and new adventures with Princess Tiana.

We’re also looking at ways we can support and uplift our communities through programs like our Disney Dreamers Academy mentorship programs, and we’re including more diverse companies in our supply chain. In fact, we’re looking at ways to increase our support for diverse suppliers in a big way – we’ll share more details on this commitment in the future.

disney-pride
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Legend Bob Gurr Rides Disneyland Omnibus at L.A. Pride Parade

Disney also made a significant change by renaming the iconic “Rainbow” collection as the new “The Walt Disney Company Pride Collection” earlier this year. Though long overdue, many considered this step to be in the right direction. The aim of this collection, found at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, as well as on shopDisney.com, is to shift its focus to be more openly supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community.

disney-pride
Credit: Disney

Related: Crossdressing ‘Lilo and Stitch’ Alien Makes Rare Appearance at Disney Pride Event!

And the most recent step was renaming one of the most popular roles at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, as the Cast Members working at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique changed their name from “Fairy Godmothers in Training” to “Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices.” This change can be seen on the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort’s websites.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique cast members
Credit: Disney

Related: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Cutting Fairy Godmothers, Giving Cast Members Gender Neutral Name

Planning for Disney Parks with special needs

However, perhaps one of the most complicated actions the company must take involves accessibility at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. While there are several measures and programs at both Disney Parks, sometimes the Parks are not able to meet the attention required by Guests with special needs, whether that be access to an attraction, mobility throughout the Parks, quiet spaces for Guests with special sensory needs, or any other situation.

disney adaptive halloween costumes and wheelchair covers
Credit: Disney

What are some accessibility measures at Disney Parks?

Disneyland Resort has a series of services for Guests with disabilities, including services and access alternatives for Guests with cognitive disabilities, hearing disabilities, visual disabilities, special mobility needs, lighting sensitivity, and Guests who a service animal accompanies. Guests can click here to learn more about the services for Guests with disabilities available at Disneyland Resort. They can also click here to view and download a guidebook regarding accessibility services offered at the California theme park.

Accessibility offerings for mobility disability needs
Credit: Disneyland Public Affairs

Related: Wheelchair User Faces Disgusting Attitude at Disneyland Paris

Walt Disney World has a similar series of services at the four theme parks in the Resort, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. You can click here to learn more about these services at Walt Disney World Resort.

Both Parks also offer a special access service called “DAS.”

disney disability
Credit: Disney

Related: Guests Make Terrible Mistake After Finding “Illegal” Disney Hack

What is Disney DAS?

The Disability Access System, or DAS, at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort is a system that allows Guests to enjoy the Parks even if they have difficulty tolerating extended wait times in a queue environment due to a disability.

This system is described by Disneyland’s website as follows:

Accommodating Guests with Disabilities

Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming, inclusive environment and accessible experiences for our Guests. As part of this commitment, the Disability Access Service (DAS) is a program offered at the Disneyland Resort theme parks to assist Guests who have difficulty tolerating extended waits in a conventional queue environment due to a disability. 

Disney World’s website describes the system with almost identical wording.

Family of Guests at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

How does DAS work at Disney Parks?

Guests who require to make use of Disney’s DAS must be aware that a pre-registration process is needed as soon as 30 days in advance of their visit to the Parks, but no less than 2 days before their arrival.

Disneyland’s website describes this pre-registration requirement as follows:

Important Pre-Registration and DAS Advance Planning Update

Eligible Guests can now pre-register for DAS Advance virtually with a Cast Member, using live video chat. Please note that you may pre-register as soon as 30 days in advance of a park visit, but no less than 2 days before arrival.   During the registration chat, you will be able to work with a Cast Member to book up to 2 one-hour return windows for select experiences—subject to availability—using our new DAS Advance planning option (in addition to the normal benefits of the DAS program). Please note that all park visits must be within 30 to 2 days of the live chat.

Again, Disney World’s website describes the pre-registration required with almost identical wording.

Disney Family
Credit: Disney

DAS use at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort consists of three simple steps. These steps are practically the same at both Parks, but we strongly advise our readers to check the official website of the Park they will visit to have the most accurate information to plan their trip.

The three steps are described as follows:

Step 1: Register

There are 2 ways to register for DAS: (1) pre-arrival via live video chat or (2) on-site at City Hall, Chamber of Commerce or a Guest Information location.

Step 2: Request a Return Time

After you’ve registered in person or pre-arrival via video chat, you can request your first return time upon entering a park.

Step 3: Enjoy the Park

On the day of your visit, have fun exploring other aspects of the park until you can redeem your return time.

While there is still a long way to go and a lot to do, it is applaudable to see The Walt Disney Company constantly taking action to become more inclusive, accessible, and diverse.

What do you think of this parent’s open letter to Disney? Do you feel represented by Disney content? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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