The Walt Disney World Resort, situated amidst the sunny and picturesque Orlando, Florida, is an immensely sought-after tourist destination worldwide. It boasts four captivating Theme Parks, an array of top-notch amenities, and a staggering number of Resort rooms, attracting a whopping 60 million Guests annually. Disney relentlessly prioritizes the safety and security of its Guests and Cast Members, ensuring a safe working environment and preventing any danger, injury, or abuse on their property. The iconic “Most Magical Place on Earth” gates welcome countless visitors, and Disney is wholeheartedly committed to providing an enchanting and memorable experience for all while placing safety and well-being at the forefront. Assault on Guests or Cast Members is typically far from our minds.
Disney is dedicated to fostering a culture of joy, camaraderie, and inclusivity within their organization. However, despite their best efforts, they cannot completely eradicate all negative incidents. It is deeply regrettable that a number of visitors to Walt Disney World have engaged in illegal and unjustifiable conduct while on the premises. Particularly distressing are reports of sexual harassment and assault, with Guests experiencing unwanted touching on rides and other parts of the Park. While some have come forward to report these incidents, it is possible that there are many more instances that go unreported.
There are several deeply concerning reports and articles highlighting incidents of groping at Walt Disney World, which have impacted both Guests and Cast Members. It is disheartening to hear that unwanted sexual contact is pervasive even at Disney, putting Cast Members at risk of such behavior. However, this illegal action of touching someone without permission is not limited to princess Cast Members at Walt Disney World. Male actors portraying popular characters across the property have also reported being targeted by handsy female Guests, as noted in a recent interview with The Mirror. Although we often think of sexually abusive behavior with a female as a victim, which is more likely to happen, male Cast Members are speaking out about abusive behaviors from misbehaving moms in the Parks.
Former Cast Member Justin Aldridge sat down with the mirror and detailed the problem, highlighting that “a lot of women-including moms-would slip their hands down lower and lower while waiting on a photo to be taken.” Justin worked as a Cast Member leading up to the Covid-19 closures in 2020, primarily performing as one of the Green Army Men from Toy Story in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Justin also performed as one of the lead Jedi actors in the Star Wars Jedi Show that used to take place near Star Tours. It was here that he recalled a story of a female in the audience who shouted out that he could “use the force on her anytime.” Justin went on to explain that the Guest made inappropriate comments and suggestive behaviors the rest of the show until another Cast Member intervened.
The allegations of physical abuse go on as he explains that many women would make inappropriate contact with him, such as wrapping their legs around him, during pictures. But most frightening is the suggestion that the Jedi show at Walt Disney World actually had groupies, some of whom eventually started to stalk male Cast Members when they weren’t working. It goes without saying that this type of Guest behavior is highly inappropriate and vial, but it seems as if Justin spent a lot of his time having to shut down Guest interactions while working at Walt Disney World. Interestingly enough, Justin also worked for Universal Orlando, where he was a Team Member for the Velociraptor meet and greet. Sadly, Justin also experienced several issues with harassment and sexual assault while working at Disney World’s neighboring Park.
Justin told the Mirror, “At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, I played a Velociraptor expert and would introduce guests to ‘dinosaur’ Blue. Blue is an animatronic and designed to give guests a fright – I found that fear is an aphrodisiac and made guests a lot more forward than they might normally have been. A lot of moms and college girls would slip me their phone numbers.”
Some claims by the former Cast Member at Disney World were so severe that those involved had to seek legal help through protection orders after Guests would find out who they were and show up at functions outside of work. This is exceptionally alarming behavior and undoubtedly illegal in nature. It also shows that as the heavy emphasis is placed on protecting females from unwanted sexual contact, men are also easily victims when situations allow them to take advantage of others. Although Justin attributes a lot of his experience to “vacation brain,” it is never acceptable to put your hands on someone else inappropriately. Sexual assault, rape, unwanted touching, harrassing speech, and sexual abuse have no place at Disney World. It doesn’t matter if it is a Guest or Cast Member; keep your hands to yourself.