Let's talk about Disney's new intro spiel for its fireworks shows at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Fireworks and other nighttime shows returned Thursday night at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. That provided Disney guests their first opportunity to hear the new spiel before Disney pyro lit up the skies for the first time since the pandemic closed the parks last year. The old spiel started, 'Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls..." while the new one begins with "Good evening, dreamers of all ages...."
Disney leans into nostalgia, so any time Disney makes a change, some fans blow back, as they have done with this switch. But Disney's new spiel reflects the parks' recent push to appear more inclusive of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. There was no need for a gendered intro spiel for a fireworks show, so Disney has found a new phrase that eliminates gender definitions.
But the traditional "ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls" introduction wasn't just about gender. I would argue that gender was an afterthought with this choice of words, which was meant instead to be inclusive of different age groups while making an aspirational statement about social class.
Addressing "ladies and gentlemen" rather than calling for "attention, Disneyland guests," or something like that sets a more sophisticated tone for the announcement and, by extension, the show that follows. This isn't some carnival fair fireworks show you're about to see. This is Disneyland [or Disney World] - a much classier joint than those types of places.
If you're paying top dollar to be someplace, like you are at Disney, it's expected in the American service economy that the place's workers will address you in a way that implies you enjoy some form of elevated social status. As anyone who has watched Downton Abbey can attest, "lady" and "gentleman" carried specific meanings in the English society that heavily influenced American culture. (I know I just referenced a Universal property rather than a Disney one, but it seemed the most appropriate recent example.)
Of course, almost no one who visits Disney these days is technically a "lady" or a "gentleman" under those old rules, but we all aspire to something, don't we?
And Disney's spiel still addresses that. By welcoming "dreamers of all ages," Disney hits upon both the age acceptance and the aspirational tone of the original introduction. And it does so with more honesty. The gender roll call was not necessary. And no one here is listed in Burke's, clad in evening wear as they await the show. Yet the evening fireworks crowd includes a great many dreamers, of all ages, because dreams and imagination are the things that bring many of us to Disney... and keep us coming back.
That's true whether you identify as male, female, or anything else.
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