Disney Parks Showcase Inclusive Costume Sizing for Entertainment Cast Members

Disney Parks and Resorts have been making progress toward more inclusive environments for both Guests and Cast Members in recent years, and the movement is continuing in new costuming initiatives.

Previously, Disney made changes to theme park attractions to make Guests’ visits more inclusive with updates like adding dolls who use wheelchairs to “it’s a small world.” For Cast Members, the Walt Disney Company added “Inclusivity” as the fifth Key to a Great Guest Experience in 2020.

Cast Member Costumes

Credit: Disney

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In the latest inclusivity update from the Disney Parks Blog, we learned about a Cast Member named Lainie Trout from Disneyland’s Costuming Design and Development team who has been working to create size-inclusive costumes for performers at the theme parks.

One of the reasons why we don’t often see plus-sized people in entertainment roles is not because of any inabilities in their performance but because of costuming restraints. As such, Trout has been advocating for costume designs to become more size-inclusive so Guests can see entertainment Cast Members of all shapes and sizes.

Trout’s advocating has already paid off, with a new costume making its debut this holiday season at Disneyland for entertainment hosts known as Knick Knack the elf (portrayed here by Stephon-David Haynes.) Haynes echoed Trout’s thoughts on the importance of costumes in a wider range of sizes saying, “Sometimes, people my size feel as though there is no space for us, but it turns out there’s quite a bit of space.”

With a career in the Walt Disney Company that kicked off working in attractions in 2005, Trout went on to work in production in the TV industry for several years before returning to Disneyland as an entertainment host and character lead.  From there, she began her work advocating for inclusive costume sizes, and her work is certainly paying off and making a difference for both Cast Members and Guests.

Cast Member Costumes (1)

Credit: Disney

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Initiatives taken by Trout to increase the range of sizes offered for Cast Members who work within the entertainment department have been noticed (and appreciated) by colleagues as well. Senior manager of Costuming Design and Development Brenda Mercure said, “Lainie is a true advocate for our cast. It is wonderful to know that she is seen as an ally and someone who will act upon an issue. Lainie is driving change in the way we all think.”

When reflecting on her work in costuming, Trout shared with the Disney Parks Blog that the inclusive costume designs have been a highlight of her career, sharing, “When I see a cast member’s eyes light up when they realize there’s a costume for them, it is the most rewarding feeling. It’s super humbling because I never expected to have this kind of impact. And it kind of fires me up because I know this is just the beginning.”

Of course, there is still work to be done when it comes to creating size-inclusive costumes (and other experiences across Disney Parks and Resorts). We are thrilled, however, to see the work being done and hope to share more updates on the topic in the future here on Disney Tips.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."