Most Disney fans can tell you about "The Disney Look," the list of strict grooming standards that must be adhered to by all cast members who work "on-stage" or in view of park guests. Disney is now facing a civil rights class-action lawsuit over those standards.
Sukhbir Singh Channa, a practicing Sikh, wears a turban and has a beard and long hair in keeping with his religious beliefs. According to the suit, while a student at the University of South Florida, he was hired by Walt Disney World as a seasonal college musician in October 2005, which involves parade and atmospheric performances. While performing onstage in parades, he was in a toy soldier costume, with the soldier hat covering his turban and the soldier head hiding his beard. At first, he was allowed to wear a red turban instead of the standard red beret in atmospheric performances, but he was removed from the atmospheric position due to not complying with "The Disney Look."
Channa was terminated in early 2006 on the grounds of violating the grooming standards, and when he applied for reinstatement as a seasonal musician in October 2006, he was denied on the same basis. The lawsuit, filed by Miami attorney Matt Sarelson in Hillsborough County circuit court on behalf of Channa and the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund (SALDEF), alleges that Disney is violating the Florida Civil Rights Act. The suit seeks damages of at least $1 million and asks that the court prevent Disney from discriminating against Sikh employees and prospective employees.
This is an interesting case, because Disney portrays the positions as "roles in a show," with "on-stage" and "backstage" positions in the performance that is the theme parks and resorts. In an actual theatrical performance, each role has a specified appearance that is required by the writer, director or producer. However, will the courts find that Disney's grooming standards for on-stage cast members comprise a reasonable appearance requirement for a performance role or will they determine that it's a discriminatory guideline for everyday employee positions. There's no doubt that Disney does portray their cast members as all complying with "The Disney Look," but is that enough of a justification for the courts? If they find in favor of Channa, does that mean that Disney can't hold the rest of their cast members to the same standard?
Walt Disney World spokewoman Jacquee Polak told MousePlanet that Disney is still reviewing the situation, and will provide a statement some time today. When we receive the statement, I will post it to my blog with a link from MousePlanet's front page and we will report it both on Thursday's MousePlanetWatch Disney News episode of the MouseStation Podcast and in next Monday's Park Update.
Just a quick reminder that this is the last week to book the free dining package for August 24 through September 20. The deal gives you the Disney Dining Plan for free or a discount on the Deluxe Dining and Wine & Dine packages. See below for more details.
Get your MousePlanet gear!
The MousePlanet.com store is now open for business (link)! You can get shirts, mugs, hats and even a Teddy Bear! Check it out and show your MousePlanet pride!
As we first reported on last Thursday's MousePlanetWatch Disney News episode of the MouseStation Podcast, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex (or whatever it'll be renamed to once it gets the ESPN branding) will be the home of a 100-lane bowling facility, scheduled to open in 2010. Starting in 2011, the facility will host 13 events under the auspices of the United States Bowling Congress by 2029.
A four-way deal, involving Disney, the USBC, Osceola County and the Central Florida Sports Commission, made the deal to build the bowling center as host for the tourneys, each of which is expected to run for approximately 20 weeks and draw tens of thouseands of bowlers and spectators. The seven USBC Open Championships are projected to generate 59,000 room nights each, and the six Women's Championship tournaments are expected to add 40,000 room nights apiece, all in Osceola County. Osceola County beat out Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Reno, Nevada.
Disney is making land available at the sports complex and will lease it to a third party, who will build and operate the new bowling center, according to Walt Disney World spokeswoman Andrea Finger. Disney is still working on many of the details and is currently in the process of selecting a third party to build and operate the facility. The operator will be made public once details are finalized.
Osceola County is chipping in $1 million to help bring the deal to fruition, though in exchange they are expecting nearly $750 million in economic impact over the next 20 years.
USBC Vice President of Tournaments and Events Jack Mordini, calling the the deal "one of the greatest announcements in the bowling industry since the invention of the automatic pinsetter," trumpeted the fact that the partnership "will bring hundreds of thousands of participants and visitors to Central Florida who will enjoy the many amenities and attractions the area has to offer."
"We are excited to play a role in making this dream come true," said Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. "This project is a reminder of just how much we can accomplish for our community when the public and private sectors work together."
Help us keep our menu listings up to date!
Did you know that MousePlanet now has menu listings (link) for all theme park restaurants at Walt Disney World and many resort restaurants? You can help us keep them up to date! Send your photos, scans or other copies of restaurant menus (no fair copying from other Web sites) to firstname.lastname@example.org (link). Please note that there is a 5 MB limit on total attachments in a single email.
This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…The Disney Magic paid a record fee for a ship to pass through the Panama Canal last month, following a change in the canal's fee structure. Fees on cruise ships are now based on number of beds instead of cargo capacity. The $283,400 topped the previous cruise ship record set by two Norwegian Cruise Line ships. The amount was still below the record price for a cargo ship.
…Last Tuesday, some attractions were closed due to lightning strikes and a tornado warning in the vicinity of the Walt Disney World Resort, but there were no reported tornadoes on the property and the attractions were reopened after the lightning subsided.
For a limited time, MousePlanet discount ticket partner Orlando Fun Tickets is currently offering a free upgrade to a 5-day Park Hopper pass when you purchase a 3-day Park Hopper. Check out the special offer or any of the other great prices on tickets at OrlandoFunTickets.com!
Free dining plans are available for Disney Visa cardholders and the general public. The plans are the same; the only difference was the start date for booking the package. The packages are good for most nights August 24 through September 20, and must be booked by June 22. Packages may be booked for a minimum of three nights and a maximum of 14 nights. Availability is limited and certain restrictions apply.
Existing reservations may be modified to include the free dining package if available. The deal is not only for a free standard dining plan, though. You can upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan and/or the Wine & Dine option and get a credit equal to the cost of the standard dining plan ($37.99 for ages 10 and up, $9.99 for ages 3-9) off of the enhanced plan.
For the Disney Visa package (reservation deposit must be made with a Disney Visa card), use the following codes:
Booking codes for the general public are:
Passholder rates are available for the summer. You can book both room-only and Disney Dining Plan packages. Rates are valid for stays with a check-in date between May 26 and August 2, and can be booked from now through the date of arrival.
The booking codes for phone reservations are:
Note that Small World agents have run into difficulty with the ADS code for phone reservations with dining, but have found an alternate code to use. If the code doesn't work for you, try code CSS.
The booking codes for online reservations are:
(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)
Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.