December 18, 2006

A man who just happens to look like Santa Claus gets kicked out of Disney World.

That's pretty mean of them, but to be fair, he did ho-ho-ho when kids came up to him and asked if he was Santa Claus. You can't go to Disney World and impersonate a Disney character. And yes, Santa is a Disney character... isn't he? If they have their own Santa wandering around greeting kids, doesn't it confuse the kids if some non-Disney guy is also wandering around looking like Santa?

IN THE COMMENTS: Quite a few folks stop by to let the regulars know they just don't get the Althouse blog.

62 comments:

MadisonMan said...

It seems like the first thing Security at Disney should have asked itself: How will this look in the press? (I find it hard to believe that Disney owns the rights to Santa's appearance -- wouldn't all Mall Santas then have to pay some kind of Disney Fee?)

I conclude that the people who write John Kerry's jokes are now in charge of security at Disney.

Mark the Pundit said...

I sympathize with people who look like celebrities. My mom looks a lot like Jane Curtin (of "Coneheads" and SNL fame), and she used to get asked all the time if she was indeed her.

I can only wonder how poor Dan Quayle has to feel when people come up to him and ask him if he is Pat Sajak...

caffeine soldier said...

"And yes, Santa is a Disney character... isn't he?"

Whuahahahaha!
Good joke, Althouse! However, you're a bit late to the party. The topic has already been discussed at The News Blog. Here's a link to an interesting site covering the evolution of Santa. Ok, christian fundamentalists, it looks like there might have been some more-or-less intelligent designers ivolveld...

MadisonMan said...

And I notice the story has the old line Several guests were very upset. What a vague and nonsense reason to kick Kris Kringle to the curb.

Universal Studios should hire this Santa.

Anonymous said...

If Disney had done nothing when others mentioned it and Mr. Worley had turned out to be, shall we say, "less than polite" when children approached, what would be the reaction?

(Count on caffeine soldier to introduce an irrelevancy whenever possible, BTW.)

caffeine soldier said...

(Count on caffeine soldier to introduce an irrelevancy whenever possible, BTW.)

Hey, I'm a European. Irrelevant is my second name, ask Rummy!
:D
So, here's another irrelevant link showing a strikingly familiar Santa in an ad from 1915. Well, maybe 14 year old Walt Disney drew this. Or maybe you, Ronin?
:P

chrisburp said...

Hey, they may be worried about litigation...what if the non-Disney Santa was a nutbag, and decided to molest a kid? Who would the parents sue? It's a litigious society...that's what they may be worried about.

Pogo said...

Epcot probably thinks Jesus is a Disney character, too.

Like societal kudzu, their attorneys and staff likely have just assumed that all pop culture belongs to DisneyCorp.

Dave said...

"Epcot probably thinks Jesus is a Disney character, too. "

Uh, when did Disney relinquish their rights?

sonicfrog said...

Disney corporate mentality has always been, and will always be, just short of thuggery.

Back in the mid 90's I worked for Vid Film, a company that transferred film to video, or converted video from one format to another, i.e. NTSC (US video standard) to PAL (European standard). The company stored many thousands of copys of films and videos from all the major studios, and were free to organize the warehoused materials in whatever manner Vid Film decided was most efficient to get the job done.... with one ecception - Disney. They made Vid Film, and other post production companies, build a seperate vault, complete with a four inch steel door, that would be used to store ONLY Disney product (as if someone was going to break in over night to steal "Gus, The Football Playing Mule"). Did Disney pay for that expense? Of coarse not.

You also had a seperate series of forms to fill out every time you pulled a film or video from the vualt. And God help you if you happened to make a mistake on one of the Disney forms. One day I came into work, and the poor guy in charge of filling out the video transfer forms was getting chewed out by not one, not two, but three Disney lackeys for leaving out a piece of information on the paperwork. No, the video was never misplaced or lost; it was transferred from one building to another and back again without any glitches. The guy just forgot to fill in a blank!

Brent said...

Disney - so good and yet . . . so mean and thoughtless.

In doing arrangements of popular Christmas songs for our non-profit caroling group, I always contact the publishers of the songs beforehand. For over 20 years the answer is the same : have at it for free, as long as it is not used in a for-profit performance. The only exception to this : the Walt Disney Music Company.

In asking for permission to arrange and perform "O, What a Merry Christmas Day" from the cartoon "Mickey's Christmas Carol", Disney insisted on a "non-profit arrangement" fee of $150 and a list of "potential performances" with a fee scale of $250 per performance. This was after 3 discussions with the publisher, and telling them that it was only for two performances at ELEMENTARY Schools.

I saved the letter from Disney re: the above and sent it out that year as an insert to our Christmas Cards.

But - we got the last laugh. Contacting an entertainment attorney, we found that a satirical take on the song would allow us to use over 80% of the original song. So - using a former Disney studios musician - we rewrote the lyrics to make fun of the mean people who would spend all their money at Disneyland instead of trying to help anyone poor at Christmas time (very liberal I know - but hey).

It was a hit and is still asked for by the schools - and pretty much every concert anywhere we sing - 12 years later.

JohnF said...

I read the linked article, and it seemed to me that the guy was asked to leave more because of his behavior than because of his looks. If he'd just told the kids "no, I'm not Santa, though I guess I look like him," I don't think any of this would have happened. Instead, he pretended he was Santa. At a theme park that has kiddie characters all over the place, I have no doubt that Disney was worried about being stuck with this guy's conduct if they knew about it and didn't do anything to dissociate themselves from it.

breakdown said...

Unfortunantly in the modern world, even Disney have to be careful of anyone they dont know.
Are they fit to be talking to children?
Are they using a santa outfit for the wrong reason?
This is something we dont want to think about, but something as a parent, I would want to know my children were safe when speaking to anyone, never mind someone in a costume.
A child would naturally feel comfortable with santa claus obviously.
I belive Disnay has had issues with this before with employees, never mind vistors.
Better to be crticised for this that something much worse
ICS

Anonymous said...

JohnF, my reaction was exactly yours. Is this a difficult thing to grasp? It is completely rational, reasonable behavior on Disney's part. I sometimes wonder why this train of thought is not presented by the news anchors (or bloggers). Surely we two aren't the only ones to comprehend this.

I guess the cynical answer is: It brings in ratings/page views.

Dave said...

This story reminds me that there is a rather disturbing episode of Nip-Tuck in which a couple adopts the name "Mr & Mrs Clause" for a variety of unsavory and dysfunctional reasons.

Harry Eagar said...

I look like Santa, too. Little kids ask me all the time, not just at Christmas.

I always tell them I am Santa and explain why I am -- for example, when I was asked last Thursday -- covering a meeting of the county planning commission.

Kids are cool with that. Disney should grow up.

Sanjay said...

Yeah, and you should see what they did to the guy who looked like Donald....

Trevor Jackson said...

Disney behaved in their own self-interest? Stop the presses; the war on Xmas rages.

I'm more upset by what Tim Allen hath wrought on the spelling of St. Nick's surname.

Drop that last E, folks.

Too Many Jims said...

"I'm more upset by what Tim Allen hath wrought on the spelling of St. Nick's surname."

But if that is what we are talking about (i.e. the guy looked like Tim Allen as Santa "Clause") that is a Disney character.

reader_iam said...

The only reason I haven't already posted some dialogue from "The Miracle of 34th Street"--which was my first reaction/instinct--is that I can't decide which bit I like best for this.

That said ... in reading these comments ... johnf and breakdown both made decent points that hadn't occurred to me.

reader_iam said...

Pick your own favorite... .

AllenS said...

Harry Eagar,

I hope you don't think that I'm being presumptious, but I'd like a pony.

Richard Fagin said...

Did you hear about Mickey's divorce from Minnie? The judge told Mickey, "Mr. Mouse, i can't grant a divorce on the gruonds that Mrs. Mouse is insane", to which Mickey replied, "your Honor, I didn't say she was insane, I said she was f'ing Goofy!"

There you have it. Walt disney has become f'ing goofy.

Anonymous said...

Santa is not a Disney character. Christ. Four seconds of googling could have answered that for you. And even without it supporting disney in this case because the man said "Ho ho" to childred...??? WTF?

Anonymous said...

Hmm something tells me that when Little Thom has sustained blunt force trauma to the sarcasmal cortex.

Anonymous said...

Hmm something tells me that when Little Thom has sustained blunt force trauma to the sarcasmal cortex.

Anonymous said...

Hmm something tells me that when Little Thom has sustained blunt force trauma to the sarcasmal cortex.

Anonymous said...

Hmm something tells me that when Little Thom has sustained blunt force trauma to the sarcasmal cortex.

Anonymous said...

Someone tell Little Thom that he left his sarcasm detector on the kitchen table when he headed out for work this morning, eh?

DonSurber said...

Ah, but Happy is one of the Seven Dwarfs (sic) so they got him on that technicality

Anonymous said...

Geez, sorry about those duplicates... The comment submission page was completely hung and I assumed my buttonpresses were for naught. Ann, feel free to delete my duplicates, or all my comments for that matter.

bill said...

My wife was almost kicked out for wearing a Maleficent costume to a breakfast at Cinderella's castle. The staff at the restaurant loved it--the manager even came out to have her picture taken with my wife. Out in the park, security told us she was confusing the guests and had to change.

AJ Lynch said...

Any chance he was the genuine Santa? I guess Santa is constantly on the lookout for a warm retreat -except for that one day when he has to work. Ho Ho Ho!

GPE said...

I'm no longer surprised by such news. It begs the question, "Just when will this country have progressive Euro-style anti-profiling laws?" How much longer must people-of-mirth be subjected to such humiliation in the name of security?

Anonymous said...

Ah, no. Santa Claus is NOT a Disney character....jeez!

Sarah said...

I used to work at the parks, though not in Orlando. It's a blanket policy about grownups being dressed like pretty much anything, and there are actually all kinds of other things you can't wear. Some of my never-been-a-Castmember friends take undue pleasure in pushing those boundaries, for instance by wearing a Playboy logo or "Muck Fichigan" style mock-swearing hat.

On the other hand, Disney has some extraordinarily sensitive Guests, which puts real pressure on the park staff. There was one time that a young lady was wearing a pink hat with actual swearing on it, and my location got four or five "concerned" warnings and two actual complaints before she even got to our section of the park. It was even worse when there was a guy smoking pot, because even after security took him away we got complaints about the delicate (and clueless) children who could still smell it hours later.

Anyway, if you think this is big news, remember that just fifty years ago, Disney wouldn't even let young men with long hair into the parks, and today they have Gay Days (though arguably, it'd be a real challenge to prevent people from wearing red shirts all on the same day, I recall a Best Buy that got police to remove pranksters whose only sin was wearing blue shirts and khakis...) They've (Disney, I mean) actually loosened up considerably.

M. Simon said...

I wonder how dan Quayle feels when people ask him if he is Dan Quayle?

Worse if they ask him if he is Mr. Potatoe Head.

Michael said...

Look, I agree Disney can be a big scary company with big scary lawyers who work work work the whole day through, but c'mon, child-rich environment where kids are predisposed to run up to any costumed sort... spells M-O-L-E-S-T-E-R to any sensible security company. Probably innocent, but then so are most people who loudly chant "Allahu Akbar" on airplanes, I don't want my kids around 'em.

I will tell you one funny story I heard about Disney and film vaults, though, since that came up earlier. Anyone who donates film to an archive like the Library of Congress or Eastman House can put restrictions on its use, even if it's public domain. Disney is notorious for very strict restrictions even on things like the silent Alice cartoons long since out of copyright. Well, some collector found an Alice cartoon Disney didn't have. And he gave it to an archive with the restriction that anybody could look at it... except Disney.

Icepick said...

Yeah, Disney's being unreasonable. Clearly someone pretending to be Santa Claus would NEVER do anything bad to a child.

Oh, and to all the dopes that keep telling Althouse that Santa isn't a Disney character: GET A FREAKIN' CLUE! Althouse's comment about Santa being a Disney character is SARCASM. What's worse is that it's already been pointed out that it's sarcasm, and people keep getting ticked off by it.

ASX said...

OMG, Ann, you never cease to amaze me. You're calling Santa Claus a Disney character?

I suppose that blue sky is Disney property, too, because it has appeared in every Disney film?

Heaven forbid I should gaze at the sky without paying Disney a royalty.

reader_iam said...

Good catch, and well done, 'Pick.

Mr. Snitch said...

Amazing, Ann, you've missed a painfully obvious point yet again. Not so your readers, who correctly point out that Disney (not the fake Santa) would have been sued if the guy had so much as fondled their bottoms.

You teach LAW, do you?

Ann Althouse said...

Why do you assume I've missed something? You just don't get the Althouse blog. Loser.

reader_iam said...

Oh, please. That "painfully obvious point" was the point.

Of course Althouse's "And yes, Santa is a Disney character... isn't he?" was freakin' commentary, not question. Wow, the irony warriors don't get sarcasm.

Well, shit, that basically supports what I've thought for a long time about that whole blogosphere, flattened-gray meaning of "irony" meme. Attitude they may have down.

Other stuff: Not so much.

bill said...

Hey, RIA, quit poking the roadkill with a stick to see if it's still breathing. I'm still waiting for today's advent posts.

Goesh said...

PS - as of 7:20AM 12/19/06, you have a very hefty lead in the latest 'election'....

Anonymous said...

The spelling of Clause is for intellectual property reasons. You can't own "Santa Claus" or "Pursuit of Happiness". I can put either on a t-shirt and there's nothing they can do. But you CAN own and protect "Santa Clause" and "Pursuit of Happyness".

Icepick said...

Clause is used properly in the Tim Allen movies. In this case, Clause is used to refer to a clause in a contract, which Tim Allen's character gets forced into when he kills Sanata Claus on Christmas Eve. The character in the movie is, in fact, named Santa Claus, not Santa Clause. In fact, the name of the movie is "The Santa Clause", and is a play on words. Come on people, get a grip! Don't be an idiot like ASX.

Gerry said...

"Hmm something tells me that when Little Thom has sustained blunt force trauma to the sarcasmal cortex."

You can say that again.

reader_iam said...

You can't own "Santa Claus" or "Pursuit of Happiness".

Weirdly, though, you can trademark the word "poetry"--or, at least, you could almost a century ago, when the Poetry Foundation did that. It filed a lawsuit based on that trademark earlier this year. Hmm, never followed up on that one.

MadisonMan said...

You can patent anything!

Gerry said...

Yes, sometimes bad people do bad things pretending to be Santa.

The problem is not people pretending to be Santa.

The problem is bad people doing bad things.

I really hate how the lawsuit culture has impacted our culture.

sonicfrog said...

Oh Madison - that's fantastic! I'm stealing it and posting it on my blog!!! And forwarding it over to a blog called "Groklaw", which follows the SCO vs IBM and Novell lawsuits. SCO, with under-the-table backing from M$, is trying to sue IBM over copywrite infringement, claiming Linux contains millions of lines of Unix code, which it owns... oh, wait; turns out SCO doesn't own Unix, Novell does (SCO uses it via liscence from Novell) and the claim of millions of lines of code has dissapeared from the lawsuit - now it is methods and concepts.

The Jerk said...

What Gerry said. The "OMG what if he was a molester!!1!" defense is ridiculous. It turns out that adults can molest children even if they don't have a Santa suit, and I doubt wearing one makes it a whole lot easier.

ginabina said...

1. Without being part of the conversation, who knows whether or not "Santa" was told that Santa is a Disney character. Stories change as they are passed along. It does seem likely (and reasonable) that Disney would tell the man that because they had a Santa dressed in costume at this time of year, that he was confusing the guests and that they couldn't have the liability of having him appear as Santa, too.

2. Disney does, in fact, have a "Santa Claus" character. As mentioned, Tim Allen is playing Santa as a recent Disney character in a movie that is in theaters right now. Is he "the" Santa? No. But they probably feel some responsibility to the accurate portrayal of Santa, considering these circumstances.

3. As mentioned, "The Santa Clause" (with an "e") is about a contractual clause. It is not the character's name.

Anonymous said...

I like to go to restaurants. I just grab menus and start seating people. Sometimes I garnish plates as the waiters go by. I like to talk really loud and fast on two phones while soaking my feet in a tub of epsom salts while dining, too. I'm sure no one would mind. Then I go outside and start parking cars. The keys are in a lot of them! Go figure.

I'll climb up on the stage with the jazz quartet, and just start reciting free verse, too. It's easiest to get the piano player's microphone away from him since both his hands are busy. Look out for drummers, they're testy, and even the little brushes they use hurt when they whack you with them! It's all in good fun, though. You know, like taking a sip out of a Senator's water glass while he's debating. They have plenty in that pitcher, if you're thirsty. I mean, really; it's right there on the table on the dais up the stairs past the cameras.

I go to movie theaters and get up in front of the screen when the movie's halfway through and juggle hummels. Then I sing opera arias. Well, "sing" is a strong word. I "perform" opera arias. On the way out, I empty the trash cans if I feel like it, and occasionally sell jujubees and old Playboys from big bag I carry.

What, I shouldn't do that?

Althouse, why don't you give us all your password and we'll post stuff on your blog. Never mind the comments anymore. I doubt anyone will abuse the privilege.

I often like to give the impression, by adjusting my appearance and clothing, that I am an official emissary, representative, or worker at any given place. You should see the hilarious hijinks I get into at the dialysis center doing that. I'm such a scamp!

Because everybody should be able to do, say, or act any which way, any place they go, and conversely never be enjoined from complaining when all that let-it-all-hang-out leads to problems.

The Jerk said...

Yep, that's what he did. Pushed The Country Bears right off the stage and started inviting little kids to sit on his lap.

Anonymous said...

Well, the Jerk, I appreciate your thoughts on the subject very much.

The Jerk said...

Happy to oblige. Poor Country Bears never knew what hit 'em.

Kev said...

"You can patent anything!"

My brother-in-law's company owns the patent for the frowny. (And no, it's not an Onion article, but read this page and scroll to the bottom to see how they're handling their patent.)

Kev said...

"I'll climb up on the stage with the jazz quartet, and just start reciting free verse, too."

Nice one, Sip. But I bet there's not a jazz musician alive who hasn't either 1) had a drunk woman come up to the stage and ask if she could sing with the band or 2) had a guy come up and ask if his girlfriend could sing with the band. When 1) happened to me a few years ago, I was the one stuck talking to her, as the other two guys in the band were able to quickly retreat to the back table, where their wives were sitting. The curses of being single...

sonicfrog said...

Yep Kev! In a rock band, you substitute the drunk chick with the drunk guy with a harp (harmonica for non-musicians). At least the drunk chick is usualy more pleasant to look at -- if you're into that sort of thing!!!