Tinkerbell Was Reportedly Found "Problematic" by Disney and Removed From Parks

Tinkerbell was deemed problematic a few years ago, but that may not be why she's no longer in some Disney parks.

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May 17 2024, Published 10:26 a.m. ET

Tinkerbell waving her wand at Disney Land in 2015.
Source: Getty Images

Any Disney World fanatic is likely aware of the prominent role that character meet-and-greets play at parks around the world. You can stand in line to meet everyone from Gaston to Mickey Mouse. For most of the park's history, Peter Pan character Tinkerbell was also on the list of characters you could meet. Now, though, reports suggest that she has been removed from at least some parks.

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The reports suggest that Tinkerbell was found to be "problematic," but many want to better understand what exactly that means. Here's what we know about why the character was removed, and why she is considered problematic.

Tinkerbell at a Disney Land parade in 2019.
Source: Getty Images
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Why is Tinkerbell problematic?

A character like Tinkerbell doesn't on her face appear to be all that problematic, at least not in the way that something like Song of the South is. The news of her removal wasn't accompanied by any explanation, although some have speculated that it may be connected to findings from a few years ago.

In 2022, The New York Times reported that Disney had launched a "Stories Matter" team that was designed to “ensure (our content) accurately represents our global audiences."

The team's job was to find specific stories and characters that could be problematic and explain the potential issues with them. In Tinkerbell's case, the team flagged that she was both “body conscious” and “jealous of Peter Pan’s attention.”

While those findings may explain why the character is no longer available for meet and greets, she is reportedly still available at Disneyland in California.

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Tinkerbell isn't at meet and greets, but she isn't gone completely.

Tinkerbell is still a part of the Happily Ever After fireworks display that takes place every night at Magic Kingdom, so it's not as if her presence has been removed from the parks entirely.

Inside the Magic, the website that first reported the news, reached out to Disney for an explanation, but they didn't offer any definitive explanation for Tinkerbell's removal.

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Tinkerbell's removal may have nothing to do with with her being canceled.

While the Stories Matter team did find that Tinkerbell was problematic, the decision to remove her from the park may have had nothing to do with that finding. The Stories Matter team also found that Peter Pan was problematic more generally because of its depiction of Native Americans, so it isn't as if Disney is seeking to excise these properties from the parks altogether.

What seems more likely, then, is that Tinkerbell is simply not part of the character meet-and-greet lineup at the moment. She may return at some point in the future, but she has been removed to make way for other characters to take her spot.

Plenty of Disney properties are problematic in some way or another. After all, many of these movies are decades old. What's important is to be aware of the areas where the movies feel out of touch with modern realities, and to allow things to evolve and change as we come to be more empathetic to one another.

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