So, racist behaviour at Disneyland, what is that all about?
I was there few weeks back and I saw a family being treated badly on several consecutive mornings (impolite tone of voice, shouting at them across the restaurant, a disctinct lack or respect compared to the treament of other families). On the third morning a member of staff (or 'cast member' as Disney refer to them) took me and my family aside and told us that there were "gypsies" staying at the hotel and that we should watch our bags and wallets as they would be stolen from us. Then the staff member pointed to the badly treated family to identify them as gypsies and asked if we would like to be seated futher away from them.
On too many levels was I uncomfortable about this. Firstly, I do not believe that you can assume/accuse gypsies/roma of being theives based on their ethnicity. If a member of this particular family had been guilty of theft then I presume Disney would have removed them from the park, so it was clear this was prejudice.
Secondly, it made me wonder what other ethnic groups the staff had problems with. Were my family being spoken about as badly behind our backs to other visitors?
Lastly, it made me feel very uncomfortable that the Disney staff thought I was somone they could include in their casual racism and engage with on their level.
Considering the expense and excitement of this trip, the eagerness on my part to make it unforgettable to my 8 year old daughter, I was very unhappy that it had been ruined by this intolerance.
So I contacted Disneyland Paris (through both facebook, and direct through their customer service email) to discuss these events and ask what they would be doing about it.
Their response was staggering. Firstly, there was no response from emailing them direct. It was only when I publically took to facebook that they bothered to reply.
First, they tried to defend the staff! Can you believe it?? Apparently, this happens "sadly too often at Disneyland" (I asked what they meant by that - did they mean racial abuse or theft? They clarified they meant theft) and that the staff were just trying to protect me from such an unfortunate occurance! So basically, the staff were right to racially profile their guests in an unfavourable manner and identify the 'gypsies' as more likely to steal than the white englishman, and should warn the englishman to be careful around the gyspies!
Then they tried to fob me off with a vague email about how they don't tolerate racism at their park (as if they would admit it if they did?) and that in 2010 they won an award called 'Diversity' by the AFNOR so obviously that's ok then. Apparently this award (look it up, it's no big deal) represents their committment to the prevention of discrimination. They said my comments would be past on to some members of management 'for their information' and they're sorry that they didn't meet my expectations.
"Please be assured that Disneyland® Paris appreciates the time you have taken to inform us of your experiences."
So, in summary:
Disneyland staff were racist. Disneyland said they had good reason to be racist. Disneyland then said that they were sorry and thanked me for my time.
Chris Bryan https://www.facebook.com/christopher.s.bryan.1