For the first time in the company’s 66-year history, Disney Parks in the United States are including a Black Santa Claus in their Christmas celebrations.
Black Santas have been spotted at both the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, at meet-and-greets and after-hours Christmas parties.
A Disney spokesperson told CNN that Santa Claus is represented in various ways in local and regional communities around the world – and in that spirit, Santa Claus will reflect the diversity of surrounding communities at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.
There was no formal announcement regarding the company’s inclusion of Black Santas, but it comes at a time when we’ve seen an increase of non-white portrayals of Santa Claus. Black Santas have become much more common in recent years at shopping malls and have been made more mainstream through the media, including in a recent Oreo cookie commercial.
Disney fans took to social media platforms to express their opinions over Black Santas appearing in the theme parks. Most people seemed extremely happy to see the inclusion of a non-white Santa, but others felt the need to argue it was not necessary because “everyone knows Santa is not real.”
Victoria Wade, a Black theme park social media influencer, tweeted, “Never in my life did I think Disney would actually put a Black Santa in the parks.” She added that in her Tweet that the move by Disney made her emotional, and made her more likely to spend money attending the parks’ Christmas parties.
Wade went on to tell CNN that Disney’s decision to include Black Santas in the park “makes me feel more accepted [and] welcomed, and I’m thrilled at what this will do for children of all backgrounds when they visit Disney Parks.”