Santa look-alike asked to change clothes at DisneyLeah Zanolla | Posted: Jul 26, 2012 | Updated: Jul 26, 2012 - 10:46:52 AM
Walt Disney World guest Thomas Tolbert was asked to change his clothes due to unwanted attention.
Photo courtesy FloridaToday
Walt Disney World has a long-standing policy of not allowing adults to wear costumes to their theme parks. Apparently the policy goes beyond dressing like a Disney character; it also applies to guests who look like Santa Claus. Thomas Tolbert was visiting Disney when park officials asked him to be less "Santa-ish" because of the distraction he was causing. He was not wearing a Santa suit, but did admit to wearing "Santa-related" clothing.
Tolbert said he was asked for his photo and autograph by multiple children and adults, but that he did not approach anyone. He did oblige the other guests by signing and posing for the photos, but a Disney official soon asked him to change clothes and said he could not portray Santa.
Even after changing clothes, he was still approached by other guests. Tolbert said, "I never had a red suit on. I never had a hat. I didn't have fur boots on, but that doesn't make Santa. The face and the persona is what makes Santa. They're looking at my face and they're looking at my features."
Disney released a statement about the incident, saying, "The guest was asked to change his attire because it was disruptive to our operations and confusing to our other guests, particularly children who asked to take photos with him. He was not asked to leave, instead, we tried to work with him so that he could continue his visit."
Tolbert was given tickets to return at a later date, but he said the same thing would probably happen again. "Disney does not own the image of Santa. Santa Claus is not owned by anybody, except for the world." His answer to the problem? Treat look-alike guests as celebrities with VIP guides so other guests would not see them.
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