Disney Imagineering Praised for Gay Representation

in Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort

Hundreds of people in red shirts in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. A rainbow has been edited onto the photo.

Credit: Reddit User u/BiAdventureTime

The Walt Disney Company has long been a leader in equitable employment and a haven for many LGBTQIA+ employees. One Disney fan recently spotted gay culture’s influence at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Disney cast member benefits covered civil partners in the 1990s, long before it was the industry standard. When legendary Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Little Mermaid (1989) lyricist Howard Ashman was diagnosed with AIDS, Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Walt Disney Animation Studios executives promised to help in any way they could. They invited Ashman’s longtime partner, Bill Lauch, to accept the Academy Award for Best Song on his behalf after his death.

A man in a red shirt holds a rainbow umbrella at Walt Disney World Gay Days.
Credit: Gay Days

Former CEO Bob Chapek affirmed the company’s stance in 2022, condemning Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s contentious Parental Rights in Education Act (“Don’t Say Gay”). DeSantis later dissolved Walt Disney World Resort’s Reedy Creek Improvement District and hand-selected new leadership for the municipal area. Disney is still entrenched in legal battles against the Republican governor, though it lost its initial First Amendment-based lawsuit.

Despite political backlash, The Walt Disney Company stood firm on LGBTQIA+ rights. In 2022, they officially renamed the “Rainbow Disney” merchandise collection to “Disney Pride” and donated proceeds to LGBTQIA+ organizations. That year, Disney cast members marched in more Pride parades than ever. Strange World (2022) featured an openly queer teenage character, Ethan Clade.

That reputation precedes the Mouse. Podcaster Disney Dan (@disneydanyoutube on TikTok) joked that Walt Disney Imagineering “outed” its gay population at this moment in the new YouTube series, “We Call it Imagineering.”

For a few seconds, a Cher head from the Superstar Limo attraction is visible behind Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro. The widely-criticized and campy Disney California Adventure Park ride took guests on a limo ride through Hollywood, “meeting” stars along the way. Look back at the dark ride here, but don’t blame us for the resulting nightmares!

Superstar Limo sign and the models of Cher and Jackie Chan
Credit: Disney

Superstar Limo was such a failure that Disneyland Resort closed the ride just 11 months after it opened. The building now houses Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!

“If you wanted to speculate at all about how many gay men work at Disney Imagineering, all you need to know is that they saved the Cher head from Superstar Limo,” Dan quipped. “The end! If you’re a proud gay man in Imagineering, that’s all you need; you just save Cher’s head.”

@disneydanyoutube

They saved the #Cher head. Period. All you need to know. #disney #disneyparks #imagineer #gay #lgbtq #animatronics #robot #animatronic #disneyadult @Disney Parks #distok #funny @Offhand Disney #podcast #clip #foolishmortals #CapCut

♬ Believe – Cher

“Where’s the wig?” he asked. “Someone’s wearing it! That’s where the Cher wig is. You think that they just let that wig go to waste?”

“The most accurate thing to ever have been said on any podcast ever,” @thesamanthasouza replied.

“That wig has been on Drag Race at least 2 times by now,” @scorpionyx821 said.

What’s your favorite part of the “We Call It Imagineering” series on YouTube? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments! 

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