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As if Disneyland wasn’t magical enough, the parks have been working to be more inclusive of all of their guests and recently a girl named Zoe Tapley got to experience it herself. Zoe is deaf and when her family was visiting Disneyland recently she was doing her rounds meeting the characters, when the woman dressed as Ana from Frozen began using American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. The special moment was caught on camera by Zoe’s mom Jeanette Tapley who shared it to her TikTok page where it has racked up over two million views and over 450,000 likes.
This trip was Zoe’s second trip to Disneyland but according to her mom, this was the first time she has had an interaction with a character that knew ASL. When asked what Zoe’s reaction was to the encounter, Tapley told Upworthy, “Zoe was in shock. She was so excited to be chatting with a Princess without my husband or I having to jump in and assist her. She just kept saying, “Wow!!!” We all just cried because it was so special and surprising!” But this isn’t Disney’s first rodeo with including ASL for their characters. In 2016 a video went viral of Captain America using ASL to communicate with a guest.
When Princess Anna can sign and have a full conversation with my deaf child. Zoe has never been able to chat with a princess without Jesse or myself interpreting. This was magical. Thank you Princess Anna for making our trip so special! #deafchildren #asl #americansignlanguage #BigInkEnergy #fyp #feelgood #inclusionmatters @Disney Parks @Disneyland California
Disneyland has been working on becoming more inclusive of their deaf and hard of hearing guests since 2010 and it’s pretty evident that they are starting to see the fruits of their labor. Tapley said, “Disneyland actually has some great services for hearing impaired and early in that trip we went and watched a show that had interpreters. It is based off a schedule that is found on Disney’s website,” She continued, “you don’t realize how un deaf friendly theme parks are until you are wandering around with your deaf child. With Zoe we just try to make her aware of her surrounding and have check in spots.”
Tapley explains that the more deaf friendly a place like Disney can be the better. When you aren’t hard of hearing or deaf and aren’t exposed to the population, you may not realize how difficult it can be to navigate places like an amusement park. It takes places listening to different communities and people of differing abilities to know what is helpful over harmful. Tapley told Upworthy, “When deaf friends can come in and feel safe and included wow! What a gift! I think it would make for a more popular travel destination and it would make Disney stand apart!”
The entire interaction left the family feeling pretty good, including the little notes Zoe has been getting from fans of the video. “We are just so thankful. Zoe has loved reading notes from people, she feels seen and loved and it’s been really fun to know that she is not alone. We are SO incredible thankful to Princess Ana for loving our family like this. We are forever bonded and I believe that she will be Zoe’s favorite princess for all of time,” Tapley said.
This sure is a moment to remember. Hopefully in the future more kids like Zoe get to meet their favorite character who can communicate with them as they do with other guests.