Disney’s Snow White Termination Triggers Theme Park Chaos Following Investigation Update

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

Image showing a side-by-side comparison of snow white. on the left, an animated depiction from the classic film; on the right, a woman in a snow white costume interacting playfully in a realistic setting.

Credit: All Images Disney

After Disney World terminated “Snow White” from their theme park meet and greet list, many guests and fans of the company had a lot to say regarding Disney’s decision and actions moving forward.

Disney's Snow White looking terrified against a background of green eyes
Credit: Disney

Related: Rachel Zegler Turns on ‘Snow White’ Amid Controversies

What Went Wrong with Snow White at Disney World?

Recently, Disney was put in the spotlight after a now ex-cast member shared the news that she was fired from the company unjustly. If you did not check out Inside the Magic’s initial coverage, let us catch you up.

At Walt Disney World Resort, the company takes character integrity very seriously. That is why guests cannot just wear a costume at the park, why dresses cannot touch the floor, or why you will be banned for life if you try to impersonate a Disney character to other guests. Disney trains their characters to act, move, sound, and respond as their character would in their respective film with meticulous detail in order to ensure that the magic is never ruined.

Even going to the beach for a weekend and coming back with too dark a tan can have you disapproved if you play a princess like Snow White.

Everything down to your look must stay the same while you are performing at Disney.

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and other Disney Characters walk down a sidewalk. Parents are visible shoving their children into the parade path to take photos and hug the characters.
Credit: @disney.bylilly via TikTok

With so many characters and cast members playing them, Disney also has to ensure that the magic of the characters is kept alive. Because of this, there is a rule that cast members cannot outwardly talk about who they play but rather will say they are “friends” with the character.

If this sounds confusing to you, it’s basically Disney’s way of ensuring that “Jane Doe” never says “I’m Cinderella”, since Cinderella is Cinderella.

This is something that gets especially tricky on social media. Characters who do post themselves in costume while working at Disney will often tell their followers to address their character in the comments and not them. For example, someone who played Aladdin may say “Please make all comments out to Aladdin” in their post, so that they do not have friends saying “you look so good”, but rather, “Aladdin looks so good”.

Credit: Disney

The most recent scandal began with Sophia Dottir, who was fired from the Disney College Program. Sophia was a character performer for a couple of months, and according to her Instagram, it appears that she played Snow White and Anna. While Sophia posted photos in character, she was not breaking any of the rules by referring to the photos as photos of her. However, she did make YouTube videos that got her in trouble with the House of Mouse.

In one video, Sophia spoke out on what it was like to work for Disney, sharing a lot of her issues with the company. She mentioned how it was tough for her to be on time for shifts and that she was already heavily reprimanded for her lateness.

She also mentioned that she got in trouble for being sick and calling out on a shift, even with a doctor’s note. Overall, when watching the video, Sophia does not seem to be a fan of the company; however, she does make it clear she enjoys her position.

She never states that she is a character performer specifically, due to character integrity rules, but she heavily infers it, talking about the joys of what it is like when a young child dressed as Snow White comes up to her while they are wearing the same dress (meaning she was likely playing Snow White that day).

In the video, she references what it was like to have come to Disney as a child dressed as Snow White while dining at Akershus and how it came full circle as she was working at the restaurant now. In the video, she mentions you can find her dressed as Snow White on Instagram, which is where Disney put their foot down.

If you go to Sophia’s Instagram, you can see that she does have photos of what appears to be her as Snow White, so if she was referring to that, she would have broken character integrity. When questioned by Disney, she told her team leads and wrote a defense that she was referencing her as Snow White when she was a child, which is also on her Instagram page.

Disney did conduct an investigation and, in the end, proceeded with Sophia’s termination and said it would be best if they parted ways. Sophia had to leave her residence within 24 hours after that conversation.

Below is the video of Sophia talking about the investigation and her termination.

Overall, Sophia’s termination was not very black and white; however, Disney does have the power to let go of any employee if they have a fitting reason, and in this case, with Sophia possibly breaking character integrity — they did. It likely did not help that she was often late, had multiple reprimands, and did not speak highly of the company, but it seems that Disney left those parts out when explaining why she was let go.

Disney Fans Weigh in on Snow White Termination

Many of our readers had a lot to say when it came to this specific termination after reading our initial coverage and watching the YouTube videos.

Sara agreed with Disney, “The video that Sophia posted that caused her to be fired is the second video in the article. I watched the whole video and saw her name, Disney, by name, several times, criticize company policy, hint around that she played a character, and in the last few minutes, she promised to do an exposé of “Disney’s dirty little secrets” of the college character program in her upcoming podcast series. Yeah, I would have fired her too.”

Tony also thought that she had to suffer the consequences of a rule break, “The company has rules and policies just like every company. It’s not difficult to follow them. And if she has grievances, she should address them with management privately and in person.” As did DM, “When you got hired you know the Rules all you have to do is follow them if you want to be a cast member at The WDW. It’s simple: cast members’ integrity follows rules.”

character dining
Credit: Disney

A former cast member jumped in, Carmelo, who did not work in entertainment but also did not agree with Sophia’s actions, “As a former cast member (Brown Derby), I have amazing memories. Not perfect, but amazing. I would never have done this. She needed to be fired.”

One guest actually did seem to interact with Sophia while she was “on-stage” at Disney World, and said, “She mesmerized my grandniece with her excellent performance…too bad for her and the children.”

Sophia’s video, however, has a lot of comments in support of her, deeming Disney of wrongful termination, while many also believe the “Snow White” part of the termination was an excuse and really, they just did not like that she was speaking negatively of the company on social media while employed by them.

Mickey Mouse inside the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival in EPCOT
Credit: Brittany DiCologero, Inside the Magic

Disney Performers Express Issues with House of Mouse

Character performers at Disney have spoken out in the past, as well. Business Insider spoke with a now ex-cast member, Melanie, who divulged more information:

Unfortunately, it felt like the role of my dreams could be snatched away as quickly as it was given at any moment if I became “disapproved” in my character.

In my experience, you could get “disapproved” in a number of ways, with the most well known being that you “aged out” of your character because you no longer looked like a 16-year-old cartoon princess.

The most common fear for cast members was getting called into a meeting for a “silhouette issue,” meaning someone at Disney had a problem with your weight (or, perhaps more accurately, how they perceived it).

It was not unusual to hear reports of managers encountering photos of character actors at Ariel’s Grotto, where many performers wear mermaid tails and bikini tops, and subsequently referring them to casting due to perceived concerns about their weight. There were instances where these actors were temporarily sidelined from portraying mermaids until casting deemed them to appear thinner.

A family enjoying a meal in a retro-styled diner while capturing a memory with a character performer as Tiana.
Credit: Disney

Melanie continued, “Disney typically has strict height requirements for its characters, but I’ve seen these rules be ignored if hiring staff really likes someone’s look. It helped me realize that character-performer roles aren’t always earned. Face characters like myself are chosen primarily for how we look.

In my opinion, the audition process isn’t very rigorous if you can make it past the first round, which is just standing still and smiling. As long as you looked good in costume, Disney could teach you acting skills.”

Regrettably, this frequently gave rise to sentiments of envy and anger, particularly when it appeared that the casting team favored another performer over someone else. Thoughts such as, “How come she gets assigned more characters than I do?” or “Why was she chosen for the parade despite my longer tenure here?” would often be on the mind of a performer.

Melanie concluded, “There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t want to do my job — I loved the guests and playing my characters. But the reality was that Disney magic didn’t pay my bills, and I knew it was time to move on when I realized my job didn’t love me back.”

Sophia has now moved back home and seems to be happy with the path that she has taken.

Do you think that this was a wrongful termination on Disney’s part? 

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