This June, Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, and Disneyland Paris boasted their biggest and most inclusive Pride Month celebrations ever. Even after Pride Month ended, The Walt Disney Company continues to make massive strides toward LGBTQIA+ representation.
Disney has long taken a progressive stance toward gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ issues. In the 1990s, before the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, The Walt Disney Company offered gay and lesbian employees insurance for their partners. However, Disney’s progress toward transgender acceptance has been much more recent.
This year saw Disney CEO Bob Chapek promise Disney Cast Members and fans that the company would stand firm in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. In February, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis introduced the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Fans and Cast Members led protests around the country after public records revealed that Disney had donated to many politicians who sponsored the bill.
Disney released a statement on March 3 but didn’t directly mention the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was later passed into law. Fans again asked Chapek to condemn the anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, and Pixar staff wrote The Walt Disney Company a letter asking the company to take a stronger stance against the bill.
One day later, Chapek called DeSantis to tell him that Disney did not support the bill, which was later passed. Disney also promised to pause political donations in Florida after donating $4.8 million to Florida campaign funds in 2020.
DeSantis said he warned Disney not to get involved in the Florida controversy, later introducing legislation to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. The bill later passed, meaning Walt Disney World Resort will not be in control of its own municipal services as of next year.
Despite the backlash, The Walt Disney Company remains firm in supporting LGBTQIA+ Cast Members and fans. Today, we’ll review significant milestones by Disney Parks as they continue to push toward transgender inclusivity and acceptance.
Inclusivity at Bibiddi Bobiddi Boutique
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a magical, one-of-a-kind Disney Parks experience that allows young Guests to transform into princesses and shining knights! The experience returned to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort this August after COVID-19 closures.
However, it returned with a significant change. Boutique Cast Members were formerly called “Fairy Godmothers in Training” but are now called “Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices.”
This change is more gender inclusive and allows Cast Members who don’t identify as female to participate in magical Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeovers.
Transgender Pride Merchandise & Snacks
Disney is known for releasing rainbow merchandise in June and the occasional rainbow-themed snack, but they’ve gone all out this year. Until June 30, 2022, Disney donated 100% of the proceeds from its Pride collection to organizations that support the LGBTQIA+ community. It was notably also the first-ever officially titled “Pride collection.” In previous years, the collection was titled “Rainbow Disney.”
Further, the Disney Cast Members behind the Disney Pride Collection promised year-round Pride merchandise that represents all members of the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly the Trans community. Disney offers pins, shirts, and plush with the trans flag colors (blue, white, and pink).
Walt Disney World Resort also offered its first-ever Trans Pride treat this year! The Mickey Pride Cake Pop came in rainbow and Trans Pride colors and was available at popcorn carts around Magic Kingdom throughout June.
In 2021, Tokyo Disney Resort took a significant step towards inclusion by replacing the standard greeting at the beginning of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Instead of saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” the voiceover now begins with:
“Good evening and welcome, one and all….”
Earlier this year, the American Disney Parks rolled out similar greetings. Disney’s diversity and inclusion manager, Vivian Ware, revealed that Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort would move to gender-inclusive messaging.
Additionally, Disney Cast Members are now trained to use phrases such as “Hello, Friends” instead of “Hello, boys and girls.” This language aims to make all feel comfortable, particularly nonbinary and gender non-conforming Guests.
Accepting Disney Princesses
Recently, we reported a heartwarming video of a transgender Guest at Disneyland Park coming out to Disney Princesses. They explained the impact that Princesses like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, and Rapunzel had on their journey toward self-love and acceptance.
u/Radiant_Jubilee shared the video to Reddit:
As expected, each Disney Cast Member responded with care, respect, and acceptance. Some even appeared to tear up as the transgender Guest shared their story.
“I couldn’t help but think how having the princesses affirm my identity would have meant all the stars in heaven to me as a little girl. Indeed, watching and listening to these videos, I could feel the sad little girl inside me who never got to be a little girl feel at peace,” the Guest wrote of their experience. “So I’m putting this out there now so that others can have something I did not growing up. Here’s to hoping that it just might help heal some wounded hearts and fortify some young, tender hearts against future injuries.”
As time goes on, The Walt Disney Company and Disney Parks will continue to grow and progress toward representation and acceptance for every gender identity. As Walt Disney once said:
To ALL who come to this happy place, welcome.
What steps towards LGBTQIA+ Disney Park representation would you like to see?