Did Walt himself lay the groundwork for same-sex Disney weddings?
The spontaneous outburst of GLBT applause generated by the announcement should be sufficient to keep Tinker Bell alive and well for decades.
Walt Disney Co., the folks who brought us Disneys both Land and World, the same fine folks who had the good sense (not to mention, sense of humor) to cast our own Ellen DeGeneres as a fish in Finding Nemo , has opened its parks’ and cruises’ Fairy Tale Wedding packages to same-gender partners.
“We believe this change is consistent with Disney’s longstanding policy of welcoming all guests in an inclusive environment,” Disney Parks spokesman Donn Walker said, according to a recent story in the Washington Post .
Seems logical. What could possibly be gayer than a wedding held on Disney grounds, regardless of the lovebirds’ affectional orientation? When attended by a best man dressed like Aladdin, even the straightest groom tends to look a bit fey.
But what would Walt Disney himself say about his company’s über-inclusivity? The man died in 1966 (and no, he is not being cryogenically preserved. Cremated immediately following his death, his ashes are interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. The term “Disney on Ice” means something entirely different).
Turns out Walt agrees with his company’s inclusive attitudes, I learned after Googling “Walt Disney” and “quotations”:
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths,” Walt testified from the grave.
Just like everything associated with Disney, the ceremony doesn’t come cheap. Like their hetero counterparts, homo couples are required to plunk down a minimum of $4,000 for a commitment ceremony, Disney-style. Side dishes, like maybe Cruella de Ville acting as officiate, can elevate the tab to tens of thousands of dollars.
That not-insignificant coinage provides you and your significant other with an array of Disney bling and benefits, not the least of which is a ride in Cinderella’s coach, representatives say. But perhaps best of all, familiar Disney characters will attend the post-ceremony reception. (Go ahead and fill in your own drunken Uncle Goofy joke here.)
Regardless of the high price tag attached to its nuptials, “Disneyland is a work of love,” Walt insisted. “We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.”
And that’s more than just pretty talk from a dead guy with a thing for cartoons. Walt Disney Co. consistently scores the highest rating on Human Rights Campaign’s corporate equality index for its treatment of its GLBT employees. This, despite an eight-year boycott of Disney joined by Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, and the Southern Baptist Convention in protest of Gay Days at Disney parks that barely dented the entertainment giant’s estimated $30 billion annual bottom line. Even if it had, chances are Disney officials wouldn’t have yielded to the conservative groups’ bullying, based on more of Walt’s wisdom:
“Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards–the things we live by and teach our children–are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings,” Walt said.
Besides, “We are not trying to entertain the critics,” he continued, adding, “I’ll take my chances with the public.”
Considering the boycott and its residual bad mojo from some of America’s most influential pulpits, one would have thought that pulling off such inclusive practices as same-sex marriage ceremonies would be nearly impossible–but not for Walt.
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” he said. “I believe in being an innovator…. I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.”
Alarmingly, more Disney Googling led to reports of Walt being anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, anti-woman, and a supporter of McCarthyism. It’s unclear exactly what kind of theme parks these themes might be best promoted in–Communists of the Caribbean, perhaps?
Regardless, Walt recognized early on the impact a sympathetic Dumbo or a forgetful Dory would have on his viewing audience, and he won 22 Academy Awards to prove it.
“We have created characters and animated them in the dimension of depth,” he said, “revealing through them to our perturbed world that the things we have in common far outnumber and outweigh those that divide us.”
Perhaps most telling of all is a glimpse into his inclusive motivation is this confession offered by Disney, despite his 41-year marriage to his wife, Lillian: “I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known.”
If that weren’t enough proof that Walt coulda-woulda-shoulda been a PFLAG daddy, check out these closing lyrics of “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” warbled by Cinderella:
“Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”
That’s right. Rainbow.
“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably,” Walt also said.
Admittedly, the quotes in this column attributed to Walt Disney have been taken completely out of context. The man, after all, has been gone for decades. Maybe the thought of same-sex couples cavorting hand-in-hand throughout his parks is, in reality, making old Walt’s ashes spin in a Fantasia -like cyclone.
But based on the spirit of these random quotes, maybe not.
So thanks for at least seemingly believing in equality for all couples in love, Walt. Maybe it really is a small world after all.