Disney World is making yet another change to its traditions in order to make it a more inclusive place for its guests of all races and gender identities.
Diehard fans of the Orlando, Florida theme park noticed that it has changed the greeting it plays to audience members ahead of its nighttime fireworks display to eliminate the use of the phrase “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.” Instead, the announcement that rings out across Disney World’s Magic Kingdom now announces itself to, “Dreamers of all ages.”
Deadline reports that the move was discovered Wednesday during a preview of the park’s “Happily Ever After” fireworks display, but notes that the change does not seem to be exclusively for the Orlando location of the Disney World empire. A spokesperson for Tokyo Disneyland confirmed to the outlet that the switch extends all around the world, although the company has made no official announcement as of yet.
The change is part of a broader effort on behalf of Disney World theme parks, and the company at large, to include more gender-inclusive language in their parks and content as well as offering more inclusive regulations for cast members. As with each change, conservative fans of the park have already taken to social media to voice their outrage and accuse the Mouse House of balking at its own traditions to appease “cancel culture” and the like.
Critics previously expressed their displeasure with Disney World when it announced it would revamp the famous Splash Mountain ride to eliminate any references to the movie Song of the South, which held problematic undertones of racism. Instead, the ride now focuses on moments from the company’s final 2D animated movie The Princess and the Frog, which features the studio’s first-ever Black princess. In addition to Splash Mountain, Disney World announced that it will remodel animatronic characters on its Jungle Cruise ride that depicted indigenous people as violent savages. Prior to that, it responded to some negative feedback by changing the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to no longer feature a woman being auctioned off to male pirates.
In addition to updating out-of-date and offensive references in its rides, Disney World also took steps earlier this year to make sure that its cast members were held to less-strict appearance guidelines, allowing cast members who dress in costume at the park to express more of their cultural identity and individuality with more flexible, gender-neutral hairstyles and costume choices.
“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,” said Disney World and Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro in a blog post announcing the change. “And we want our cast members – and future cast members – to feel a sense of belonging at work.”
Fortunately for fans of Disney’s diversity push, Disney World remains undaunted by the criticism and continues to forge ahead with inclusivity initiatives. Perhaps none have been met with more virulent backlash than the decision to add warnings of “outdated cultural depictions” to some of its older movies on the Disney+ streaming platform like The Jungle Book, Peter Pan and Aristocats. The move is part of a larger initiative at the massive entertainment company it’s calling its Stories Matter campaign that sees a collection of experts from outside the company review its library of content to warn viewers of “negative depictions or mistreatment of people or cultures” before they tune into something on the platform.
The Stories Matter campaign website notes that Disney is neither editing nor removing past content, instead believing that the warnings offer a chance to open a dialogue on race, inclusivity, and ways in which entertainment content can do better in the future — including at its Disney World theme parks.