Disney's New 'Gender-Inclusive' Policies Modernize the Family-Friendly Theme Parks

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday April 24, 2021
Originally published on April 15, 2021

Disney's New 'Gender-Inclusive' Policies Modernize the Family-Friendly Theme Parks
  (Source:Walt Disney World/Instagram)

Mickey's high-waisted red shorts and Minnie's polka-dot flared skirt with a sensible yellow heel won't be changing any time soon, but for Disney Park "cast members" (aka employees), new policies indicate that times are changing.

Josh D'Amaro, chairman, Disney Parks, experiences and products, recently posted to a blog titled "A Place Where Everyone is Welcome" to the parks' blog. D'Amaro described the parks' evolution since Disneyland Resort first opened in 1955.

"We want our guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in the stories, experiences and products they encounter in their interactions with Disney," wrote D'Amaro. "And we want our cast members — and future cast members — to feel a sense of belonging at work."

As previously reported on EDGE, Jungle Cruise, one of the original Disney parks' rides, is getting a 21st-century remodel in yet the latest update to a legacy theme park ride that has been criticized in years past for being racially insensitive. But the Jungle Cruise redesign is just part of the brand's current inclusivity efforts.

Disney solicited input from employees on how to strengthen its brand identity and work ethos for the 21st century, adding "inclusion" as the fifth key in its approach toward guest experiences. But inclusion isn't just limited to guest experiences.

"We're looking at other traditions, too — including the policies that guide how our cast members show up for 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," stated D'Amaro. "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."

But Disney Parks are only a portion of the company's $200 billion assets. The entertainment powerhouse continues to integrate LGBTQ representation into its far-reaching production schedule. Recent projects include Disney+'s "Doogie Howser" reboot co-starring out actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Patti Harrison's breakthrough performance as the first trans actor to appear in a Disney film with the animated "Raya and the Last Dragon," and Luke Evans' upcoming role as the Coachman in a live-action remake of "Pinocchio."

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.