Disneyland Paris has apologised after barring a three-year-old from participating in its “Princess for a Day” experience because he is not a girl.
Hayley McLean-Glass said she asked if she would be able to book the treat as a Christmas present for her son, Noah, who is a “superfan” of the Disney film Frozen and loves to dress up as Elsa, one of its lead characters.
On Tuesday, after having been denied permission, she wrote an open letter to the firm, demanding to know what “terrible awful fate may befall” her son if he was allowed to wear a dress.
Responding to the Guardian the following day, a Disneyland Paris spokesperson said: “This experience is available to all children ages three-to-12 and we’ve reached out to the family to apologise for them being provided with inaccurate information.”
On the firm’s website, the experience is described as an opportunity to “grant every little girl’s wish with a real princess’ make-up and hair-styling session; a fairytale transformation they’ll treasure forever”.
McLean-Glass said Noah was “buzzing with excitement” when he first heard about it. But the response to her email from Disneyland Paris read: “At this time it is not possible to book Princess for a Day for a boy.”
In a post on her blog, she wrote: “We have spent a small fortune in Disney items for [Noah], he wears his beloved Elsa dress all day every day … he even refuses to take it off at bedtime. He knows every single word to Let It Go and all of the other Frozen songs, he’d be able to stand on your stage in the Frozen show and give your Elsa a run for her money I’m sure!
“If there’s such a thing as a Frozen superfan, Noah is it!”
She added that her son was being prevented from having the “same experiences as the little girls who visit [Disneyland Paris] simply because ‘he’s a boy’”.
McLean-Glass wrote: “If a little girl wants to be a superhero, she can be. If she wants to be a Jedi, she can be. She can be whatever she wants.”
Disneyland Paris said it was sorry for upsetting the family and insisted that it did not have a policy of barring boys from the Princess for a Day experience.
“We are taking this situation very seriously and sincerely apologise to Hayley and Noah for the distress caused,” a spokesman told ITV News.
“[This is] an isolated incident. The cast member’s response is not reflective of any policy or belief held here at Disneyland Paris. We are going to ensure this does not happen again.
“Diversity is near and dear to our hearts and we want to make sure that all our guests enjoy their experience at our resort. Of course, both boys and girls are welcome to enjoy the Princess for a Day experience in addition to all our other special activities.”
McLean-Glass runs a blog on family life, Sparkles and Stretchmarks, through which she has worked with firms such as Butlins as a “brand ambassador”.