As a part of renewed efforts to advance diversity and inclusion, Disney is set to allow staff and cast members at theme parks more freedom to express themselves — including the wearing of gender-flexible costumes.
What are the details?
In a blog post last week, Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, announced a new addition — "Inclusion" — to the company's "Four Keys," the long-standing tradition of promoting Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency at its parks.
The new key, he said, aims to "cultivate a culture of belonging" at the company and guide its efforts to "realize our rich legacy of engaging storytelling, exceptional service, and Disney magic." Among the changes coming as a result of the new key is a reworking of the policies that guide how cast members can dress at work.
"Our new approach provides greater flexibility with respect to forms of personal expression surrounding gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos," D'Amaro wrote. "We're updating them to not only remain relevant in today's workplace, but also enable our cast members to better express their cultures and individuality at work."
A Disney spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News that as a part of the efforts, the company would soon be "removing gender references for staff costumes."
"Moving forward, we believe our cast, who are at the center of the magic that lives in all our experiences, can provide the best of Disney's legendary guest service when they have more options for personal expression — creating richer, more personal and more engaging experiences with our guests," D'Amaro continued.
“To All Who Come To This Happy Place: Welcome" | Disney Parks youtu.be
The changes followed a recent advisory Disney published to acknowledge supposedly racist "stereotypes," "negative depictions," and "mistreatment of people or cultures" in classic films such as "Dumbo" and "Peter Pan."
Starting in October, a12-second disclaimer on the company's streaming platform reportedly read, "These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it, and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together."
In recent months, the company also used the opportunity provided by coronavirus-related park closures to reimagine old rides such as the "Jungle Cruise" and "Splash Mountain," replacing racist imagery with more inclusive content, the Hill reported.
"This is just the beginning as we continue to work toward a world where we all belong — including a more diverse and inclusive Disney Parks, Experiences and Products," D'Amaro added in the April blog post. "There's more to do, but we're committed to listening, learning and making meaningful improvements."