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Disneyland Article
Woman Of Color At Center Of New Holiday Shop Backstory
Brady Macdonald
Walt Disney Imagineering has made a Puerto Rican woman who loves to travel the central character of a fictional backstory created for a new Disneyland holiday shop as part of Disney’s continued commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

The fictional Plaza Point proprietress Miss Evelyn Toro was inspired by Disneyland resort enhancement manager Dawn Keehne’s real-world mother Evelyn, whose maiden name is Toro.

The new Plaza Point holiday shop opened Thursday, Oct. 21 in the former Main Street Photo Supply Co. on Main Street U.S.A. in the Anaheim theme park.

Plaza Point sells Christmas merchandise year-round with Halloween and Lunar New Year overlays along with Easter, Hanukkah, spring and fall seasonal decor planned throughout the year. The shop will feature ornaments, housewares, linens and holiday accessories from Germany, China, Israel, Denmark, England, Mexico and other countries — all ostensibly collected during Miss Evelyn Toro’s travels.

According to the shop’s backstory, Miss Evelyn Toro’s globetrotting travels have brought her a wealth of knowledge about how the holidays are celebrated around the world that the friendly and outgoing proprietress enjoys sharing with patrons in her bustling shop.

Snow globes, candle holders, ornaments and other holiday decor collected by the proprietress during her travels serve as furnishings for Plaza Point. Her prize find: A scale model of an old-fashioned cart with figures of two girls and a boy displayed just inside the shop’s main entrance. The children will be redressed throughout the year to reflect the current holiday being celebrated.

Dawn Keehne thought the well-traveled proprietress who loves all things Christmas that Imagineering dreamed up for creative inspiration when designing the shop sounded just like her mom as her team worked on decor for the new holiday store.

“My mom just lives for the holidays,” Dawn Keehne told the Disney Parks Blog. “She’s an eternal child at heart and decorates the house for weeks before Christmas.”

Evelyn Keehne brought her holiday traditions, recipes and stories from Puerto Rico when she came to the United States and wove them into the family’s big, festive Christmas celebrations in Simi Valley, according to her daughter.

Imagineering incorporated Evelyn Keehne’s real-world love of the holidays into the fictional proprietress backstory for the shop.

Dawn Keehne kept the tribute to her mother secret until the pre-opening employee preview of the new Disneyland store on Thursday morning — which left Evelyn Keehne in tears.

“I can’t believe this,” Evelyn Keehne told the Disney Parks Blog. “To see my Puerto Rican heritage represented here is amazing. When my father came back from the war, Puerto Ricans weren’t even allowed in stores or restaurants in New York City. So to see this at Disneyland, a place where everyone, and every child, can see it, well, that’s pretty amazing for all Latinos.”

The shop makes nods to fictional proprietress Miss Evelyn Toro’s Puerto Rican heritage — from the Victorian era garland and Christmas tree decor to the Three Kings Day statuette and a table set with flan and coquito for the holidays. Black-and-white photos and illustrations from Evelyn Keehne’s younger days dot the walls of the shop as her shopkeeper alter ego.

“If you look around the room, it’s all about her love of holidays, culture and diversity — and that truly is my mom,” Dawn Keehne told the Disney Parks Blog. “It’s a love letter from me to her for that inspiration and for making the holidays so magical growing up.”

The Plaza Point project was a way for Dawn Keehne — who is raising two children with her wife — to acknowledge the LGBTQ community. An illustration in the Plaza Point display window shows two women holding hands while ice skating.

Disneyland has made fictional female representation a key goal recently with Jessica Rabbit set to take over Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Princess Tiana assuming the lead role on Splash Mountain and free-spirited adventuress Alberta Falls now running the Jungle Cruise as Disney continues to address diversity and inclusivity issues in its theme park attractions.

Inclusion was recently added to the previous Four Keys — safety, courtesy, show and efficiency — that are taught to new employees during Disney Way orientation training.

The lack of representation in Victorian Era decor made it challenging to reflect Disney’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity in the new wood paneled holiday shop, according to Dawn Keehne. Disney artists created nutcrackers, cherubs and Santa Clauses with various skin colors to represent more cultures and identities in the shop, according to Dawn Keehne.

“The beauty is that with us adding the Inclusion Key, it blew the door open for my team to talk about all of our own stories and how we can represent our own cultures in our work,” Dawn Keehne told the Disney Parks Blog. “I don’t know if it’s that we just never felt permission to do that before, but this has been a fantastic journey.”

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