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Fans Respond After Disney Adds Diverse Santa Claus To The Theme Parks

Sleeping Beauty Castle in Christmas decorations
(Image credit: Disneyland Resort)

Disney theme parks and the holiday season are both places where nostalgia is in full swing. If you’ve been to Disneyland or Walt Disney World as a kid, then returning as an adult can transport you back to another time. The same is true with the holidays. We tend to remember previous times we spent with our family as much as we enjoy the current season. But with the passage of time comes inevitable change, and this holiday season sees a big change coming to both domestic Disney Parks as we’re seeing a Black Santa Claus entertaining guests for the first time, and fans are applauding the change.

Disney made a point to announce that starting this year, when Santa Claus appeared at Disneyland and Disney World, guests would find both a Black and a white Santa at the various places where the Christmas icon would be interacting with guests. There are spots where kids can visit Santa, and he’s also a part of Christmas parades in both parks, and while I’m guessing most have been hoping to see a Black Santa for years, guests are happy it’s finally happening.  

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Seeing a Santa who is not simply white is a big deal for many fans. Disney Parks guests, and Disney fans in general, are certainly a diverse group, and so many have been happy to see Santa reflect some degree of this diversity.  

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There has been a growing call for diversity from media in general and while some might see this as Disney thinking with its wallet rather than its heart, the motives seem less important than the end result for many. We’ve seen more diverse movie productions from Disney, including Encanto, which is being released by Walt Disney Animation Studios this week, a story set in South America. What happens in the movies eventually makes its way to the theme parks, but this decision is entirely one that was made inside the parks.  

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There are certainly some dissenting voices, the “woke” is being used by some and Disney is being accused of some sort of wrong by making this decision, but those voices are being largely drowned out by those who are supporting a more diverse cast of Santas in the parks. Having this as part of a Disney Park will clearly be extra special for some, and it does no harm to the rest. 

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The diverse Santa follows other decisions to expand diversity in the parks including a major update to the Jungle Cruise attraction and plans to redesign Splash Mountain away from its Song of the South theme and into a new story based on The Princess and the Frog.  

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.