AP reports when Mickey Mouse will be able to hug again as Disney faces child grooming accusations

What may have been seen as good news for fans of Disney locations following two years of pandemic restrictions was lost in a poorly worded Associated Press report.

An ill-timed tweet by the outlet touted its story on the change with costumed characters at U.S. Disney parks, announcing that “Mickey Mouse can start hugging again at Disney parks.”

“For nearly two years, costumed characters at U.S. Disney parks have kept their distance from visitors because of the pandemic. They haven’t been able to give hugs, sign autographs or interact up close with fans,” the Associated Press reported.

Citing a company blog post, AP noted that “personal interaction between visitors and costumed characters will be allowed again at Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World in Florida and on Disney cruises” beginning in mid-April.

But the timing of the news about Disney characters hugging park guests – notably children – sparked immediate reaction online in the wake of the entertainment company’s decision to engage in a culture war battle.

Taking a vocal stand against Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, Disney has locked horns with parents, conservatives and especially GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. A firestorm was ignited when Disney bowed to woke pressure and challenged what the left is incorrectly calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The measure, which bans discussion and teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity to students from kindergarten to third grade, was signed into law by DeSantis.

“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” Disney had said in a statement.

This move, coupled with leaked videos that showed Disney executives discussing how to introduce more LGBTQ characters into productions, has already put the company on the receiving end of negative backlash.

But the AP report on Disney reinstating closer contact with costumed characters at their U.S. parks – including Disney World in Orlando, Florida – comes amid recent attacks on the company for “grooming” children and reports of arrests of employees for alleged sexual crimes.

The AP report also follows last month’s news about a sting operation in Florida that nabbed more than 100 human trafficking and child predators, including a few who were employed by Disney.

Manhattan Institute fellow Christopher Rufo has been calling out the attacks on children and recently even cited CNN reports about past sexual allegation cases.

While the AP’s tweet that “Mickey Mouse will soon be able to hug again” may have been celebrated by families eager to see the return of a pre-pandemic Disney, there was a more collective headshaking on Twitter.

 

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