Actors at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, who portray the beloved characters Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck, say in recent police reports that visitors to the self-described “happiest place on Earth” inappropriately groped them in separate incidents earlier this month, according to a report by The Orlando Sentinel.
In a third incident reported by the paper from police documents, a performer in costume as Mickey Mouse ended up in the hospital, claiming neck injuries after a grandmother repeatedly patted her costume’s mouse head.
Incidents involving tourists who grope and abuse costumed performers at the Disney flagship theme park are not a recent phenomenon. In 2009, a 60-year-old man was convicted of assaulting a woman in costume as Minnie Mouse by groping her breasts.
According to law enforcement records inspected by The Sentinel in September of this year, costumed performers at Disney World are “easy targets” for obnoxious tourists who “scream at them, sexually harass them and in the most serious cases, physically attack them.”
One Disney employee told the paper that he and his fellow performers are forced to act as “an emotional punching bag” for visitors to the iconic theme park. The sight of costumed characters crying during breaks from work is not uncommon, the employee told The Sentinel.
In one of the most recent reported incidents, an actress in costume as Minnie Mouse described a December 6 incident in which a 61-year-old Brewster, Minnesota, man suddenly squeezed her breasts three times as she gave him a friendly hug after posing for a photo with the man and his wife, according to the Orlando Sentinel report.
The incident was similar to a November 2 incident at the park when, according to a CNN report, Brian Sherman, 51, and his wife posed for a photo with an actress portraying Minnie Mouse, only to have Sherman allegedly cup her bra as he placed his arm around her. He then “cupped her breast with two fingers with only ‘the thin skin-tight fabric’ between his hand and her skin,” according to police reports cited by CNN.
On December 3, at a restaurant located within the Orlando park, an elderly woman asked a costumed performer portraying Donald Duck if she could have a kiss. But once the kiss was complete, the woman would not let the Donald Duck performer — an 18-year-old woman — get away, pawing at her and forcing her hands inside the Duck costume, according to The Sentinel report.
The performer declined to pursue charges, saying that she suspected the woman to be a victim of dementia.
Also this month, a 36-year-old woman in costume as Mickey Mouse was briefly hospitalized due to neck pains, according to the report, after a grandmother patted her mouse head about five times, causing the head to slide out of place, straining her neck.