Like many children growing up in Florida, every summer my family made an annual vacation to Orlando, to the mystical Disney World theme park. We spent the days riding thrill rides, standing in lines for autographs from our favorite movie characters, and, of course, shopping for that perfect souvenir. As a young girl, I had difficulty choosing between the options Disney presented young girls. I remember the seemingly endless pink princess crowns, Minnie ears, stuffed animals, and similar “girly” items; however, that is about as diverse as the options came. There were clear distinctions between boy souvenirs and girl souvenirs with limited crossovers.

Due to the hectic schedule that accompanies college, it had been a few years since I had an opportunity to visit Disney World. Luckily, I was able to get away for a graduation trip to Disney World’s Hollywood Studios this past weekend. My luck continued as my visit occurred during the park’s “Star Wars Weekend” event. This special festival is held every year for a month, from Mid-May to Mid-June. The park holds activities and events that are unique to the famous film franchise. This includes dressing up their typical characters as the movie stars, offering “Jedi Training Classes” for young children, and, my favorite, a broad array of Disney Star Wars merchandise.

I was extremely pleased by everything that I witnessed. Disney has expanded options for all children. When I was younger, the only characters I could dress-up as were the typical Disney princesses and Minnie Mouse. However, this past weekend there were young girls dressed up as Jedi Knights, Darth Vaders, RTD2s, Princess Leias, and other unconventional Disney characters. It was exciting to see girls’ faces light up as an eight-foot Wookiee walked by. Boys and girls alike spent over forty minutes in line hoping to catch a glimpse of the infamous villain Darth Vader. Moreover, when the little Jedi Knights were ready to call it a day, the options for souvenirs were much less gender-specific than they had been in the past.

It is exciting to see Disney embrace alternate perceptions of girls and childhood. Girls now have more access to different ways to play and with attitudes like Disney’s; maybe alternate play options will become more acceptable. I look forward to seeing what else Disney will create.

-Casey Gymrek
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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