On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, a Santa Claus look alike apparently caused some “distraction” at the theme park. While he wasn’t wearing the Santa suit, Thomas Tolbert typically wears something Santa-related – and his white beard, facial features and general physique cause him to be the target of photo requests and smiles from children.
During his trip, all was well until the last day, when a Disney representative noticed Tolbert posing for photos with children. According to Tolbert, the representative said that “[he] can’t be portraying Santa,” and that he needed to change into something less “Santa-ish.”
Allegedly, this didn’t help – and he was still the target of people shouting “Santa” everywhere he went. Tolbert says:
I never had a red suit on, I never had a hat, I didn’t have fur boots on. But that doesn’t make Santa. The face and the persona is what makes Santa.
Tolbert never tried to represent himself as Santa or a Disney employee, but that he refused to turn away curious children – a move Disney representatives say he should have done. Disney says they were trying to work with him, not make him leave the park, but that his attire was disruptive to other guests.
In the end, the theme park gave him free passes for a return trip, but Tolbert can’t help but wonder if a similar problem would be encountered on his next trip to The Happiest Place on Earth.