Walt Disney’s theme parks were designed to be a “happy place” where kids and adults alike can feel safe, have fun, and delight in the studio’s imagination and invention. Yet, since thousands of people visit a Disney Park each day, unruly behavior is sure to creep in. Earlier this month, three separate groping and inappropriate touching reports were filed at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Mickey, Minnie Mouse, and Donald Duck were victims in their own home.
On December 4, a 36-year-old woman under the Mickey Mouse costume at Magic Kingdom was taken to the hospital after facing a neck injury during a meet-and-greet. The grandmother of a nearly two-year-old child was reportedly attempting to show the child how harmless Mickey Mouse was by patting his head about five times. Yet, the touching was forceful enough to have her head slide down and strain the Disney cast member’s neck.
This case was ultimately ruled as a “civil matter." The Disney cast member decided against pressing charges and understands the patting wasn’t intentionally meant to hurt her. The grandmother’s son-in-law said ”she barely touched him… it was very minimal.'' The family also questioned the no-touching rule with characters when high fives and hugs are often part of the experience.
On the same day, two more cases were filed that look to be much more intentional, via Orlando Sentinel. One involved an 18-year-old woman who plays Donald Duck at Magic Kingdom. She reported that a woman in her 60s asked if she could kiss Donald during another meet and greet. Donald innocently agreed, but the situation heightened into assault when the woman began touching and grabbing her all over her face, arms, chest and belly, including actually placing her hands inside her costume and touching her chest!
When the woman’s family caught on to what was going on, they yelled at her to stop, and Donald Duck was escorted into the break room. A report was filed but again no charges were made. The cast member said she believed the woman to have dementia. The third case that day involved Minnie Mouse, another 36-year-old woman who plays the Disney icon at Magic Kingdom.
While the Minnie Mouse employee was posing for pictures with a husband and wife visiting from Minnesota, she said she was groped in her chest three times by the man while giving him a hug. She identified him as a 61-year-old man, who had apparently also had “inappropriate interaction with a cast member” the next day at the parks. He was banned from all Walt Disney World properties.
This isn’t the first time guests have groped Disney characters at the parks. A couple months ago, a man was arrested for groping a woman playing Ariel from The Little Mermaid. At least nine other cases were filed in 2019. Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger encouraged cast members to come forward about uncomfortable situations and said Disney provides “multiple resources to protect our Cast Members’ well-being, including on-site law enforcement officers who respond and are available to them, if needed.”
It should go without saying that guests should honor the space of Disney cast members and treat them with respect. Stay tuned with us here on CinemaBlend for more Disney Parks news. Check out the new Rise of Skywalker locations that have been added to Star Tours!
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Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.