The Disneyland Resort Improvement Team planned to decorate a Plaza Point centerpiece of two Victorian child mannequins pulling a cart for Lunar New Year with firecrackers, lucky red envelopes, oranges, tangerines and tangerines.
Disneyland designers brought in a group of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultural experts during the research and development phase to provide feedback on the authenticity of the Lunar New Year overlay for the all-day holiday store. year on Main Street USA. Their recommendation: lose the oranges. and save the tangerines and tangerines.
“In Chinese culture, tangerines and tangerines are a sign of good luck,” said Disneyland Resort Improvement Manager Dawn Pipal-Keehne. “In Vietnamese culture, some regions regard oranges as a good luck charm.”
It would have been an embarrassingly bad way to kick off Lunar New Year — especially for a place like Disneyland that prides itself on diversity and inclusion and focuses on storytelling and sweating the smallest details.
“We are defenders and we are stewards,” Pipal-Keehne said via an online video interview. “When we tell someone else’s story, we have to make sure we tell it right.”
To help tell cultural stories correctly, the Disneyland design team turns to corporate employee resource groups made up of cast members — the Disney language for employees.
Disneyland has several employee-led BERGs formed around a shared identity, interest or pursuit – including Compass (Asian and Pacific Islander), Enabled (Disabled), Hola (Hispanic and Latino ), Pulse (African and Caribbean), Pride (LGBTQ), Salute (Armed Services) and Victoire (Women).
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Compass was tapped to offer insight and commentary from an Asian perspective on the finer details of the Lunar New Year overlay for Plaza Point.
“These little moments of recognition really mean a lot to our guests as well as our cast members,” said Amanda Kim, Head of Retail for Main Street USA and a member of the Compass leadership team. “These little things really make a huge difference. It’s the little performances that people see and say, “Hey, I’m doing this with my family for Lunar New Year.” » »
The partnership with Compass and other BERGs allows Disneyland to accurately represent diverse cultures and traditions, according to Pipal-Keehne.
“I don’t want to pretend I know their story just because I read something online,” Pipal-Keehne said. “It’s really about what people are celebrating individually.”
Disneyland has made a Puerto Rican woman who loves to travel the central character in a fictional backstory created for the Plaza Point Vacation Shop as part of Disney’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusivity. .
The fictional owner of Plaza Point, Miss Evelyn Toro, was inspired by Evelyn, Pipal-Keehne’s real-world mother, whose maiden name is Toro.
According to the shop’s story, Miss Evelyn celebrates holidays around the world that she has heard about during her travels around the world.
“His door is open to everyone,” Pipal-Keehne said. “She loves everyone’s celebration and feels it’s just as important as
Plaza Point’s Lunar New Year overlay introduced design elements such as firecrackers, lanterns, flowers, and food that can represent different things in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures.
“Where Compass has really helped us is working out those details,” Pipal-Keehne said. “It was a fantastic partnership. Many times they were able to come out and really look at those little details and make sure we were doing it right.
Plaza Point’s ever-changing seasonal makeovers will focus on three key areas of the store: the centerpiece of the children’s trolley, Miss Evelyn’s window desk and the main display wall behind the checkout counter.
Early concepts for the shop’s centerpiece with the Victorian children featured a beautiful silk umbrella in the wagon – until cultural experts at Compass pointed out it was bad luck to have an open umbrella in the car. inside.
Miss Evelyn’s office is filled with traditional cultural desserts like Chinese prosperity cakes Fa Gao and Korean sugar cookies Dasik. Compass cultural experts recommended adding Korean Tteok rice cakes as another traditional holiday dessert.
The main display wall behind the crate has a battery of fireworks and dragon figurines that offer nods to Mushu from “Mulan” and Sisu from “Raya and the Last Dragon.” The Disneyland design team added plum branches, orchids and bamboo based on suggestions from Compass cultural experts.
Employee-run BERGs provide cultural expertise and feedback for a multitude of Disneyland cultural projects and events.
“They’ll reach out to us for everything from providing feedback on food offerings, menu names, marketing and even the art that comes into the resort,” Kim said in a video interview. in line.
The plan is to change Plaza Point’s seasonal holiday theme throughout the year, with Christmas maintaining a year-round presence.
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The Lunar New Year overlay will remain at Plaza Point until Tuesday, February 15. After that comes a layer of spring and a nod to Easter. Later in the year, a red, white, and blue 4th of July theme and an orange and black Halloween overlay are promised.
“The stage was set for this place to really celebrate these different holidays,” Pipal-Keehne said.
Disneyland’s improvement team won’t be able to take every vacation this year at Plaza Point, but the hope is to tackle more in the years to come – with the help of the in-house cultural advisory teams.