Sometimes it appears as if Disney can do no wrong.
Most of its movies are hits. Disney TV is generally squeaky clean and safe. Media acquisitions seem to be financial steals. Its merchandising knows no bounds. And a visit to one of its theme parks has become a consensus family destination of a lifetime for many.
But at least one part of it is a major letdown.
That’s because Disney Parks, a subsidiary responsible for the conception, building and managing of its theme parks and vacation resorts, offers a rather dad exclusionary feature on its website, disneyparks.com.
Click on the Vacation Planning menu tab, and you’ll find a section offering a Moms Panel, an inexcusable practice that leaves dads out in name, and in other unfortunate ways.
First, Disney Parks offers no Dads Panel counterpart, thus ignoring a father’s contribution and unique perspective for vacation planning. By presenting no voice for dads and the viewpoints they might lend while families prepare for a dream destination, it directly ignores the indispensable influence of fathers. Disney is also clearly saying that dads don’t handle this vacation planning facet of family life, and that dads don’t matter.
But wait – you say – there are some dads on the panel.
And therein lies problem number two, where it uses the term “mom” as an equal synonym for “parent” – a faulty, exclusionary approach when marketing to families, families which include dads. There are very few products exclusively intended for one gender as parents, and vacation planning certainly is not one of them.
Alas, the term gender bias comes to mind.
Disney makes matters worse by trying to rationalize its practice of replacing the word parent with mom:
We understand that the role of “mom” is met differently from family to family, so we made sure to fill our panel with enthusiastic, dedicated and diverse individuals—moms, dads and other in the know family members—to help guide you with your vacation planning.
Note how the word mom is placed in quotes. Here, at least in Disney’s world, all dads are no longer equal parents, they’re moms!
Let that sink in for a moment: Disney is calling dads, moms.
Don’t dads matter to Disney more than this? Must dads’ presence as equal parents be demeaned, it not outright ignored? It’s wrong. Dads matter every bit as moms.
Now take a look at those actual dads serving as Moms Panelists: don’t these dads have a problem with this concept? If one was called a mom at a public function, wouldn’t he correct the speaker? Let’s hope so. So why let it persist online, in print, for the entire world to see?
This whole discomfiture is not just literally inaccurate – it’s gauche, inappropriate and disrespectful.
And ignoring the contribution of a father by way of exclusion in its name – Moms Panel – doesn’t exactly feel welcoming to fathers seeking information. It leaves them out of the discussion, and makes them feel like outsiders – that is, if they even bother to find and examine the site in the first place.
What’s more, among its entire 27 panelists only two are dads? That’s hardly representative of the population, nor its customer base.
Third, it’s beyond disappointing that the Moms Panel was unveiled in 2008, during these politically correct times. It’s not like we excuse Jif for prolonging use of its old fashioned motto, but at least it was born during a time where its slogan was representative of a bygone era. That slogan, too, is inappropriate and Jif is taking steps to minimize (perhaps eliminate) its use.
But 2008? That’s a mere eight years ago. In this so-called modern, gender sensitive, all-inclusive, equality-seeking world, doesn’t Disney have some high level PR officer who would’ve screened this before it even happened?
This entire Moms Panel endeavor reflects a huge lapse in judgement for a global mass media and entertainment conglomerate that considers its parks “the Happiest Place on Earth.”
Dads can’t be happy with this kind of treatment.
Whether or not you’ve made it to Disneyland or Disney World before, at least we can all say we’ve enjoyed its movies over the years, and we continue to be enthralled with its new Star Wars handiwork and future plans.
But that’s what makes the rub hurt even more, because with Disney, we expect more. We don’t just want our expectations met, we want them to be exceeded. Sure, that’s a lofty desire, and maybe a bit unfair, but that’s the standard Disney has set. We expect greatness. Perfection. Happiness.
All of it makes Disney’s use of the Moms Panel name indefensible.
Not long ago, Amazon – the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States – finally responded to the PR nightmare known as Amazon Mom by quietly and suddenly changing its name to reflect dads’ contributions as parents.
Let’s hope Disney can make a swift change, too, and thereby stake its claim as the Happiest Panel on Earth.