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Disneyland Article
After Rethinking Racist Rides Disney Parks Extend Inclusion Push To Cast Members Add Adaptive Costumes

Jungle Cruise
USA Today
Arthur Levine
April 13, 2021
April 15, 2021
As part of its efforts to create a welcoming environment, Disney Parks announced today that it is adding inclusion as one of its core guiding principles.

“We want our guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in ... their interactions with Disney,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences, and products, in a blog post introducing the initiative. “And we want our cast members – and future cast members – to feel a sense of belonging at work.”

D’Amaro said that the company will modify its policies so that park employees will have more flexibility to reflect their cultures and individuality on the job. This will include things such as gender-neutral hairstyles and costuming. For example, the parks will be introducing adaptive costumes to accommodate employees in wheelchairs.

The Disney parks have a history of enforcing strict appearance guidelines for cast members. For example, beards were forbidden for employees until as recently as 2012.

According to Disney, it has long included “The Four Keys” of safety courtesy, show and efficiency as part of the training for the employees, known as cast members, which work at its theme parks. D’Amaro says that a fifth key, inclusion will now be added to the list.

Disney retheming racist rides, Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise

Disney had already announced that it would be making changes to park attractions that had been criticized as racist, including Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise.

Instead of referencing the controversial film, “Song of the South,” which has been identified as racist and offensive, the Splash Mountain log flume rides at Disneyland and Disney World will be re-themed to focus on Disney's first Black princess, Tiana, from Disney’s animated film “The Princess and the Frog.

The Jungle Cruise at Disneyland and Disney World had been criticized for its depictions of Indigenous people, and Disney announced early this year the attraction would be updated to better "reflect and value the diversity of the world around us."

Jungle Cruise gets an update:Disney World, Disneyland to update Jungle Cruise's depictions of Indigenous people

Disney's first Black princess themed ride:Splash Mountain to get new theme amid calls to ditch racist history

“As part of our ongoing process at Imagineering, we look at the authentic representation of people and cultures in our stories,” said Carmen Smith, executive, creative development and inclusive strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering. “This is an important part of creating a more inclusive environment for guests from all over the world.”

'There’s more to do,' Disney parks chief says Disney says that it will also be looking for ways to work with more diverse companies that supply its parks as well as bolster its mentorship programs.

“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 shared. “There’s more to do, but we’re committed to listening, learning and making meaningful improvements.”

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Attractions Referenced

Jungle Cruise

Splash Mountain

Tianas Bayou Adventure

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