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Disney drops 'fairy godmother' title for gender-neutral 'apprentices'

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is saying bibbidi bobbidi buh-bye to the old 'godmother' title.
The Cinderella Castle during an overcast day is seen in the
Disney World (depicted) and Disneyland's "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique" staff members will be called "Apprentices" instead of "Fairy Godmothers In Training."Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Disney is widening its definition of "Fairy Godmother" to encourage inclusivity at theme parks. Now "Fairy Godmothers In Training" will be called "Apprentices."

Fairy Godmother Apprentices work at "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques," located at Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland's Fantasyland in Anaheim, California.

At the boutiques, children between the ages of 3 and 12 get princess makeovers (hair, costume, makeup) by staff with the "Apprentice" title. The park boutiques are reopening on August 25 following pandemic shut-downs.

According to the independent blog Streaming The Magic, which broke the news, the revised label will benefit cast members who don’t necessarily identify as female.

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Disney did not respond to a request for comment. The Disney website advertises the boutique services provided by "Fairy Godmother's Apprentices" for both little knights and princesses.

“The change makes sense,” Ian Cioffi, founder of Streaming the Magic, told TODAY Parents. “If you don’t identify as female, why would you be called a godmother?”

In 2015, Cioffi — “a big Disney fan” — launched the website to stream content from various theme parks, including Disney. Streaming the Magic employs current and former Disney employees nationwide, one of whom verified the godmother policy change to Cioffi, he said.

The update has already split Disney fans. “You’re either for inclusivity or you’re not,” he said. “At the end of the day, Disney is a business and they aren’t afraid to lose a few bucks to do the right thing.”

Disney has made recent policy changes for the better, Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, wrote in a 2021 blog post addressing changes to staff policy that allowed “gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices” along with allowing visible tattoos.

"Inclusion is essential to our culture and leads us forward as we continue to realize our rich legacy of engaging storytelling, exceptional service, and Disney magic," he wrote.

Last year, the phrase “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls" was dropped from the “Happily Ever After” fireworks show at Disney World. Instead, an announcer says, “Good evening, dreamers of all ages.” 

A Disney spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times at the time, "We don’t have an official statement, but the bottom line is the greeting has changed. It’s part of a broader effort around diversity and inclusion."

Related: Sesame Place apologizes, twice, after video of character interacting with Black girls goes viral

Attractions have also been revised.

As previously reported by TODAY, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride removed its "Wench Auction," featuring animatronic female characters, replacing it with both male and female models and a sign that reads "Auction, Surrender Yer Loot."

Meanwhile, the Jungle Cruise ride, criticized for its depiction of indigenous people, was revamped to "value the diversity of the world around us," per the Disney Parks website.

In 2020, Splash Mountain's log-flume ride was revised as "Tiana’s Bayou Adventure," as a tribute to the popular 2009 Disney film “The Princess and the Frog.”

The former version was inspired by the 1946 Disney film "Song of the South," which was slammed for promoting racial stereotypes.

"The new concept is inclusive — one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year," Disney said in a statement at the time.