More important than any other post -- if you believe in what I'm trying to say below, please share and spread the word. Let's get Disney 'on board.' (A little cruise pun for ya there!)
As many of you could see from my Instagram and Snapchat (lisaeberly), last month my family and I took my niece and nephews on the Disney cruise. Let me start by saying — Disney really knows how to do it right. Most everything was absolutely amazing and so well done, all with true Disney magic. My niece hung out with Minnie, Belle, Ariel, and was — I kid you not — on a first name basis with Cinderella by night 4. My nephew dressed up like a pirate and sword fought with me under fireworks in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
In all this amazingness, there was one huge and very saddening problem on my mind throughout my trip. One that I’m disappointed Disney didn’t take the opportunity to solve.
I would argue that Disney has more magic and power over people at an early age than any other company. Disney shapes toddlers and young children’s interests, self image, and passions. My niece dresses up like a princess daily, my nephew sings the Mickey Mouse clubhouse theme song in the car. Even my 8 month old nephew can recognize the famous mouse. I myself remember dreaming about becoming a princess — all because of what Disney taught me. They are our first introduction to brand recognition and idolization in life. Before we grow up to want an iPhone or to look like a celebrity, we want a Mickey doll and to look like Cinderella.
What Disney has is opportunity to reach into the brains of young children and mold them before anything else has a chance to.
What is one of the biggest problems facing children in America today? Childhood obesity and overweight. Disney not only doesn’t aim to mediate this issue, but they blatantly contribute to it.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know that overeating is not only inevitable, it’s downright encouraged. A ship that targets kids is even worse. My options for lunch were chicken tenders, fries, mac n cheese, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, ice cream, pasta, and the list goes on. This was all placed across from the tiniest salad bar I’ve ever seen — an option of browning romaine or wilted spinach and a few veggies still defrosting. I understand that it’s difficult to get fresh fruits and vegetables on a cruise ship, but considering this ship ports every few days, I feel Disney could do better.
More important than my vegetable options are those of the children on the ship. All day long I saw overweight and obese children walking past, one hand holding a bowl of fries and the other an ice cream cone. Disney had opportunity — families are on this ship for a week, attending Disney restaurants, workshops, kids clubs, and seminars. I did not see a single class, event, activity, workshop, or anything about healthy eating or active living. Many of these families wouldn’t have any access or awareness of nutrition education if not on the ship — this was their chance.
So, I’ll conclude with this:
Please find it in your hearts to take advantage of your Disney magic, brand, power, and influence to help make the world a healthier place. I see the small steps you’re taking — the healthy option on kid’s menus, the apple slices for sale at Disneyland — but let’s go BIG. You have more opportunity than any other company to solve, or at least lighten the load of, childhood obesity, giving children longer lives to tell their grandkids about the magic of Disney, more energy to run around your parks playing, and improved confidence to find the princess or prince charming in themselves.
And hey, if you need a dietitian to help you, my door is wide open. Let’s get to work.
Lisa Mouse, MPH, RD
Again, if you agree, please share this (click any button on the left!) to help us get Disney's attention to take action!