Gender Is No More at Walt Disney World

in Walt Disney World

Three children - two dresses as Disney Princesses and one as a Disney Princess- in the new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique which was modified to better fit the new Disney World gender neutral guidelines.

Credit: Disney

Despite a gender-nonconforming Disney Cast Member infuriating conservative social media users, Walt Disney World Resort continues to go all in on gender-neutral language.

One of many newly named Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park, the Cast Member is one of many former Fairy Godmothers. As part of The Walt Disney Company’s new “inclusion” key, the role now includes employees of all genders, each offering their own contributions to the magical experience for young Guests. The change came a year after the company modified the “Disney Look” to include tattoos, unnatural hair colors, certain piercings, and gender-inclusive clothing options.

The new rules sowed division among Disney Park fans. For the first time, many Disney Cast Members felt comfortable in their personal expression at work. But more traditional Guests are offended by gender neutrality and uncomfortable introducing it to children.

Walt Disney World Resort’s Efforts to Be More Gender Inclusive

Three Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique cast members stand in front of dresses.
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney said it himself – no Disney Park is ever finished. The Disney Look and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique updates mark significant efforts toward gender diversity at Walt Disney World Resort, but it’s not the end. As time passes, the Central Florida Disney Park will only become more accepting and welcoming to all Guests, including members of the transgender and gender non-conforming community.

Related: Social Media Reacts To Disney’s New Gender Inclusive Name: Fairy Godmother’s Apprentice 

Following in the footsteps of Tokyo Disney Resort, pre-recorded greetings at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios now rarely include the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen.” Each Disney Cast Member is trained to avoid misgendering Guests, instead referring to groups with gender-inclusive language like “folks” and “everyone.”

The changes haven’t gone unnoticed. In a recent popular Reddit post, u/canadian414 asked other Disney Parks fans if they’d been called “friend” instead of “sir” or “ma’am.”

A Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Cast Member reveals a young girl's princess makeover. They're both grinning.
Credit: Disney

“I just came to WDW for the first time in about a decade, and the first time as an adult,” the Guest explained. “I noticed I was consistently referred to as ‘friend’ I have no recollection of this from previous trips.”

Both supporters and contrarians chimed in, sharing their thoughts on the ongoing inclusion efforts at Walt Disney World Resort.

Who Does Gender-Neutral Language Benefit?

As society continues pushing back against gender stereotypes, Walt Disney World Resort is following close behind. Knowing that it would be upsetting for a nonbinary or feminine-identifying Guest to be referred to with a masculine pronoun, Disney Cast Members are putting forth their best effort to respect everyone.

A family embraces during Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise
Credit: Disney

“Considering I was once CRUSHED as an eleven year old girl when a Cast Member called me ‘sir’ in a store at then-MGM Studios, I’m all for gender-neutral language when speaking to Guests,” u/flimsyghost said. “Little fifth grade me sat in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids giant maze area crying about that.”

Related: Mike Pence Calls Gender Equality a “Bad Idea” After Watching ‘Mulan’

Others saw the minor changes as major wins as gender diversity continuously increases.

“It might not be the end-all-be-all change, but to those who do not identify as a binary gender, this means a lot to them,” u/BethyW argued. “Discrediting a single easy fix because there is still a macro problem is not the solution either.”

Cast Members demonstrating the updated "Disney Look", promoting inclusion and diversity
Credit: The Walt Disney Company

The consensus among most Dinsey Parks fans? Anything that makes everyone feel welcome and accepted, regardless of their gender expression, is a positive step forward.

“As a non-binary trans person, I think the gender neutral language feels pretty great,” said u/TinTinTaunTaun. “Also, it means CMs don’t have to guess whether to call me ‘ma’am’ or ‘sir’….so it seems like a win all around.”

Does Gender-Neutral Language Upset Guests?

Despite hearing from a non-binary person who supported the change, many Disney Parks fans remained upset about the lack of gender pronouns and nicknames at Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney World Cast Members hold pin boards
Credit: Disney

“It used to be princess and prince, or some variation of gender specifics,” u/cjeng1086 recalled. “But now it’s friends to not offend anyone. I don’t like the change.”

Related: Disney College Program Introduces Gender-Neutral Space in Housing

Some commenters used offensive slurs and derogatory language toward the transgender community. Another called the change “PC.” Still, others claimed their distaste for the term “friend” had nothing to do with gender identity.

“I wish they would come up with a better gender neutral term,” u/OreoSoupIsBest argued. “I absolutely hate ‘friends,’ it feel [sic.] so condescending and insincere, like something you would say to a group of misbehaving children.”

A female Cast Member puts her costume in the recycling bin
Credit: Disney

Disney Cast Members and regular visitors also shared pushback they received when using non-gendered language.

Related: Disney Series Introduces First Character to Use a Gender-Neutral Pronoun 

“I’ve heard ‘I’m not your friend’ and ‘my mom told me not to talk to strangers,’” u/23onAugust12th wrote. “But more often than that, people would respond by VERY LOUDLY and deliberately invoking gendered terms, either in reference to themselves or the Cast Member. Oh, and one time someone said ‘Do I look gender confused to you, MA’AM???’ to a Cast Member who seemed to be going for androgynous look but was very clearly female.”

“It’s a positive gender neutral term and I only had minor backlash once when someone replied ‘I’m not your friend,’” u/notyourcinderella recalled. “My reply back was ‘But you wish you were!’”

Four Cast Members pose with a blue frame that reads "We are the magic."
Credit: Disney World Resort

A few fans from the other side of the aisle felt that training Disney Cast Members in gender inclusivity is a performative act that shouldn’t be used to excuse The Walt Disney Company censoring homosexual film scenes in more conservative countries or canceling shows with LGBTQIA+ representation.

“It’s corporate nonsense and we shouldn’t accept it, not because it’s wrong, but because it’s a way for them to pat themselves on the back and pretend they’re making a difference when they aren’t,” u/ruhrohrubarb stated. “I’m all for inclusion but Disney made this change to look good, not because they’re interested in meaningful change. They aren’t, never were, and never will be as long as the almighty dollar is threatened.”

Are you excited about the Walt Disney World gender-neutral language? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments.

Please note that the story outlined in this article is based on personal Disney Parks Guest experiences. No two Guest experiences are alike, and this article does not necessarily align with Inside the Magic’s personal views on Disney Park operations.

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