Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: May 25, 2004 at 1:43 AM
An ex-Disney employee is suing the company in a civil rights lawsuit over her religious beliefs. The Muslim woman returned from maternity leave wearing her hijab, a religious head scarf, and was subsequently fired from her Walt Disney World job in the Caribbean Beach Resort for not removing it. Disney does not allow any headware for its Cast Members unless it is part of the costume. The plaintiff's part-time job was a bellhop in the hotel, while her part-time job was as a salesperson at a Pearl Factory there.
I have a few problems with the lawsuit. Disney offered her a job behind the scenes so she could continue to wear the hijab, but she refused. So the loss of the bellhop job is on her. The Pearl Factory transferred her to another store in Kissimmee, where her commissions dropped dramatically, so she quit. I can understand not spoiling the Caribbean Beach theme by demanding bellhops wear appropriate costumes, but I can't see the need for some crappyass pearl store - which agrees to adhere to Disney's costume policy - to disallow it. Still, both Disney and the Pearl Factory tried to accommodate her, but just not to her liking, apparently.
I don't think the case has a chance, anyhow. Disney calls their employees "Cast Members" for a reason. They are not only required to dress the part they are playing, but to play along too. A Jewish actor couldn't force a Broadway director to allow him to wear his yarmulke onstage, after all. Being religious is all well and good, if it works for you, but it shouldn't affect your income. If the only way you can be religious is to be religious in public, then you need to find a job that will allow it, and not sue the ones who won't.
GEORGE MITCHELL: NEW CHAPSTICK SPOKESPERSON
Orlando Sentinel - May 22
A group of representatives from the nation's largest pension funds met recently with the Disney board and actually finagled a few concessions. The board will allow the group to suggest nominees for an independent director's seat this year. It also said it will consider creating an ad hoc advisory panel to serve as a liaison between the board and investors.
Still, the triumphant feeling the group had when they left soon began evaporating. Board chairman Mitchell still had his lips planted firmly on Michael Eisner's ass, and refused to set a deadline for Eisner's replacement. Later on, Mitchell talked smack about the investors, commenting how little clout they held, and saying such lack of clout is why Eisner didn't even return the meeting. Mitchell's foot wasn't in his mouth enough, apparently, since he also said that directors had also met with other larger shareholders who are behind Eisner, implying the opinions of the pension funds aren't really that important. Mitchell should keep it up, and he will find himself on the street next year, right alongside Eisner, his bestest friend in the whole wide world.
NO RIDES FOR YOU!
MousePlanet - May 24
In a surprising move, at least from a company obsessed with money-grubbing, Disney has decided to close Disneyland on May 4 next year. May 5 is the kickoff date for DL's 50th Anniversary, and Disney apparently is trying to make the date special, since its 50th offerings certainly won't be. It'd be nice to think the park will use the day off to really make the park shine for the 5th, but at this point, that's too much to hope for.
"MY SPOILED ROTTEN DISNEY GIRL'S PERFECTLY OVERPRICED PRINCESS TEA PARTY" RETURNS!
MousePlanet - May 24
Apparently, the hideously pricey Princess Tea event at WDW was a major success, since it will now occur five times a week at the Grand Floridian. What you get? Tea and cakes for two, a personal meeting with Princess Aurora, storytelling, singalongs, a princess parade (?), a tiara, a Princess link bracelet (?), a rose (!), a special princess scrapbook page (?), a "Best Friend" certificate, a “My Disney Girl” collectible doll dressed in a matching Princess Aurora gown plus accessories. My guesses as to what some of these things are: I think the princess parade will be all the little princesses since it appears as if Aurora will be the only "real" princess here. The tiara and bracelet will be pretty cheap. (I think the bracelet may actually end up being one of those Italian things that are popular right now, since Disney conveniently sells a whole bunch of links for them at about 30 bucks apiece. Most places that sell these things will throw in a bracelet full of blank links free if you buy one or two links for it. So they aren't cheap cheap, just inexpensive.) I have no clue what the scrapbook page could entail, because without pictures it ain't much of a scrapbook.
While the My Disney Girl doll might be worth something, the $200 they are charging for this event - the price for one child and one adult - is insane. The Princess Tea I attended after a showing of Freaky Friday at Hollywood's El Capitan had FIVE princesses, all of whom held meet-and-greets for the guests. There were other activities and the whole thing cost a whopping $25. And we were appalled at the high number of spoiled rotten little girls at that event. I can't imagine what the girls taken to this thing will turn into when they become teenagers.
TDA OF TERROR
MiceAge - May 18
Disney spent more than $100M on Mission: Space and got middling reviews, pukefests and hospitalizations, Team Disney Anaheim was hoping for more from their $75M (or so) Tower of Terror in California Adventure. Well, the ride is certainly the most popular in the park, which isn't the case for Space, but it isn't increasing traffic TO the park, which Space is doing for Epcot. Attendance barely rose over its usual in the two weekends following ToT's opening, and most of those were APs. Non-AP locals, who may only attend the park once a year, but pay full-price, haven't materialized.
Of course, Al brings back the hoary cliche of how it's the California theme keeping these locals away. I still say that is total crap. If Disney had bothered to do the theme RIGHT, it wouldn't matter. Honestly, how many people have been to the Redwood National Forest? I live in Northern California and I haven't even been there! And I know the vast majority of Southern Californians haven't either. How many have been to Monterey? San Francisco? Having lived in SoCal, I bet more have been to Universal's Hollywood than to the real thing. Add to that the other lands, which are based not on real places but IDEAS of places, and you have an excuse that is no better than Disney's excuses as to why the park is vacant. Look at the little fact that the park has TWO whole attractions that anybody wants to do more than once - California Screamin' and Tower of Terror (Soarin' is almost always a walkon now, Millionaire is popular only on weekends and Grizzly is only popular on hot days) - and you have a REASON instead of an EXCUSE.
Jim Hill is at it again. This time isn't against Al Lutz, who tends to paint a target on himself on occasion (see last story), but Lance Hart over at Screamscape. Now most of us know that Screamscape is a rumor site - NOT a news site - and that not all rumors come to fruition. Especially those involving Disney. And Lance doesn't seek out forty Imagineers every time he hears something. He doesn't have the damn time! Look how many parks the guy is covering! He's even covered rumors that were born on TPI, and we certainly aren't verifying everything that comes over the transom.
So why is Jim making such a federal case about it? Like Screamscape has never offered blue sky rumors before? When I read the thing - prior to reading JHM's rebuttal - I questioned its validity. Even Lance doesn't seem to think to much of the rumor on his site, and only published it because this source has been very reliable in the past. In fact, I think Lance's response to Jim's column was extremely professional, especially when he pointed out a major error in that column. Personally, I would've run that one into the ground! But then, I don't claim to be professional!