It’s a small world, but it just got a little bigger for disability representation at Walt Disney World.
A new wheelchair-using doll debuted this week at “it’s a small world” at Magic Kingdom in Florida, months after two wheelchair-using dolls joined “it’s a small world” at Disneyland in California.
“When you go on this ride, it’s supposed to represent the children of the world. There’s a whole subset of kids that could never see themselves because (the dolls) are standing there, they’re dancing, they’re moving,” said Melissa Temple, who started Disabled DISVentures to share tips with fellow travelers with disabilities. “Now they have one in a wheelchair and they can see themselves and be like, ‘Hey yeah, that is me.’ “
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“This is the first time someone like me is represented in an attraction at the Disneyland Resort.” Disney accessibility manager Erin Quintanilla told the Disney Parks Blog when Disneyland’s dolls debuted over the holidays. Disney World had previously featured mannequins with wheelchairs and cochlear implants in merchandise displays.
Quintanilla co-chairs The Walt Disney Company’s ENABLED Business Employee Resource Group, which champions accessability and which worked with Disney Imagineers and Resort Enhancement, Animation, Wardrobe on the dolls from start to finish.
“I was able to help consult on the design of the wheelchairs so that the dolls authentically represented those of us who live life on wheels,” she said. “It’s also critical that the dolls move just like everyone else in order to be fully inclusive.”
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Inclusion is one of the Five Keys, or core princip of The Walt Disney Company. And many guests with disabilities have praised Disney parks for their accessibility programs.
“Could they be better? Of course there’s always ways to improve and room for improvement. But Disney is really amazing,” said Temple, who has fibromyalgia, arthritis and a number of other conditions that cause her incredible pain and make her muscles to seize up and give out. “I’ve been to other parks, and Disney by far is the best at trying to make sure they’re as inclusive and as accessible as they can be … If you talk to them and tell them what you need, they try as hard as they can to make that happen for you.”
A wheelchair-using doll is also planned for “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Paris.
Eve Chen is a Consumer Travel Reporter for USA TODAY based in Atlanta. You can follow her @chenwilliams on Twitter.
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