Playing the part of Anaheim’s Virgil, I appeared on Américans, a short-lived Telesur show, five years ago and spoke about Disneyland’s relationship with Latinos. The Mouse House courted our community, but Anaheim still reeled in the wake of police riots. In a time before Coco, all I could babble about was Princess Sofia, Disney’s almost-Latina character, and a platitude about resort workers not being able to afford the fun.
These days, the Disneyland Resort is más Mexi than ever. When this Mouse-musing column debuted, legendary cartoonista Lalo Alcaraz mentioned what an Imagineer once told him: that half of all Anaheim theme park attendants are Latino. And it shows!
Even though summer just began, Relámpago del Cielo, the baile folklorico powerhouse from SanTana, is already warming up for “A Musical Celebration of Coco” at Disney California Adventure (DCA). A clip of the Día de los Muertos show featuring puppets, mariachi and dancing became a viral sensation last fall. Even before Disney Pixar’s Coco arrived in theaters two years ago with its stellar soundtrack, the Mouse already knew what musicians to hire for park performances, thanks to a longstanding relationship with the Grammy-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea.
And it’s not just entertainment at the resort where Mickey Mouse is turning Mexi. Our guts are now being catered to beyond churros. For a tasty summer treat, the Cozy Cone Motel at DCA offers elotes dusted with cotija cheese or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Across the way, Schmoozies! serves up a mangonada smoothie with chamoy and mango chunks.
And then there’s Disney’s newest sought-after item: concha Minnie Mouse ears with a sarape bow. They debuted in May and have already sold out. Parkgoers ask retail workers about them every day. Don’t worry; they will be back in stock soon enough.
It’s all an inevitable evolution for the place where Doritos were born and ride-safety instructions in Spanish have become an integral part of the resort’s identity.
The browning of Disneylandia continues as demographic destiny. Call it Mañanaland!
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!