by Natasha Chen | CNN
Without official announcement or fanfare, US Disney parks are adding a black Santa Claus to the Christmas celebrations for the first time in the company’s 66-year theme park history.
At both the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, a Black Santa has been spotted at some get-togethers and post-Christmas parties.
A Disney spokesperson told CNN that Santa Claus is represented in a variety of ways in local and regional communities and around the world — and in that spirit, Santa Claus reflects the diversity of the surrounding communities at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. will show.
Disney parks are the latest places where families can see a non-white depiction of Santa Claus, with more Black Santas appearing in recent years in shopping malls and more recently in Oreo cookie ads.
On Friday, Old Navy is holding the Santa Bootcamp, an online inclusive training program encouraging participation “from a wide range of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultural heritages to offer greater representation in the role of Santa.”
As expected, Disney guests and the general public have held strong opinions on social media.
Twitter user @maciiannn posted: “I’m pretty sure I’ve caught the first Black Santa ever at Walt Disney World and I’m crying seriously happy tears.”
But Twitter user @hawksmurray commented on the news, saying, “Everybody knows Santa isn’t black, they shouldn’t make a black Santa just for a PR stunt.”
Some users responded by saying, “Everybody knows Santa isn’t real.”
Victoria Wade, a theme park social media influencer who is Black, tweeted about the inclusion of a Black Santa in Disney parks, writing, “Never in life thought Disney would actually put a Black Santa in the parks. “
She said in her post that the move made her emotional and increased her chances of spending money to attend Parks’ Christmas parties.
“With Disney implementing this change as part of its diversity and inclusion initiative, it really allows me to feel more comfortable and visit the parks,” she told CNN.
“Ultimately it makes me feel more accepted, welcome and I’m thrilled with what it will do for kids of all backgrounds when they visit Disney parks.”
Top Image Credit: DisneyFoodBlog.com