Story at a glance
- With no formal announcement, Disney began introducing Black Santas in its theme parks in California and Florida.
- Visitors and employees began noticing the Black Santas during meet-and-greet events and at after-hours Christmas parties.
- The move by Disney is an effort to reflect the diversity surrounding the company’s parks across the country.
Disneyland parks in California and Florida have quietly included Black Santas throughout their theme parks for the first time in the company’s 66-year theme park history.
According to CNN, visitors and staff at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., and the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., have spotted Black Santas at certain meet-and-greet events and at after-hours Christmas parties.
Santa Claus is represented in various ways in local and regional communities and around the world, which is what inspired Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World to reflect the diversity of its surrounding communities, according to a Disney spokesperson who spoke with CNN.
The company didn’t officially announce it would be including Black Santas in its Christmas celebrations this year.
The move by Disney made some fans emotional, with Victoria Wade, a theme park social media influencer who is Black, tweeting, “Never in life did I think disney would actually put a black Santa in the parks."
“With Disney implementing this change as part of their diversity and inclusion initiative, it really allows me to feel more comfortable and seen when I visit the parks. Ultimately it makes me feel more accepted, welcome, and I'm thrilled at what this will do for children of all backgrounds when they visit Disney parks,” Wade told CNN.
Wade wasn’t the only one applauding Disney’s diversity efforts. Multiple users on Twitter also appreciated the presence of Black Santas.
“I’m pretty sure I just caught the very first Black Santa to ever be at Walt Disney World and I am seriously crying happy tears,” said user @maciiann.
Disney isn’t the first company to expand its diversity and inclusion efforts. Cookie company Oreo also released a holiday commercial featuring a Black Santa Claus.
Clothing retailer Old Navy is also getting involved, with the company’s launch of Santa Boot Camp. The program is designed to encourage diverse groups of people to play the iconic Christmas character.
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