Disney tells man to look less like Santa


Here we go again

Disney tells man to look less like Santa - WFSB Channel 3

Posted: Jul 25, 2012 1:27 PM EDT Updated: Jul 25, 2012 1:28 PM EDT

Disney World asked Thomas Tolbert to tone down his appearance which resembles Santa. (Source: Thomas Tolbert) Disney World asked Thomas Tolbert to tone down his appearance which resembles Santa. (Source: Thomas Tolbert)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL (CNN) - Visitors to Disney theme parks expect to see people in costume.

But the company’s written policy ensures park officials can control who’s dressed up.

Last month, Disney World officials didn’t let a teenage girl dressed like Tinkerbell into the Animal Kingdom.

And now Disney has enforced its “no adult costumes” policy against someone who wasn’t even dressed like a Disney character.

A man who looks like Santa says he was asked by Disney to change while he was visiting the park.

Thomas Tolbert says wherever he goes, people stop and stare. Children ask for photos.

“I never approach a person,” Tolbert said.

When he came for a family trip to Disney, people asked for autographs, which he signed, until his last day, when a Disney representative saw him in the middle of a crowd.

He says Disney asked him to change into something less Santa-ish. But he says that didn’t help. People still pointed and shouted “Santa!”

“I never had a red suit on. I never wore a hat. I didn’t have fur boots on. But that doesn’t make Santa. The face, and the persona, and then, the heart is what makes a Santa,” Tolbert said. “They’re looking at my face, and they’re looking at my features.”

He says Disney even told him to turn children away if they were curious.

“They said, ‘You need to say, "I’m sorry. I am not who you think I am. I am on vacation, and you need to leave me alone.’”

But that’s not something Santa would say.

Disney said representatives asked Tolbert to change because guests are not allowed to wear costumes.

In a statement, a Disney spokesperson said: “The guest was asked to change his attire because it was disruptive to our operations and confusing to our other guests, particularly children who asked to take photos with him. He was not asked to leave. Instead, we tried to work with him, so that he could continue his visit.”

Tolbert says he was not wearing a costume or trying to attract attention.

“Disney does not own the image of Santa. Santa Claus is not owned by anybody except for the world.”

However, he did switch clothes like Disney asked him to, and he was even offered special perks for his troubles.

Copyright 2012 WKMG, Thomas Tolbert and CNN. All rights reserved.


I think this is totally ridiculous!! There is a man we see who stays at FW during the Holiday Season. I think he must be one of Santa’s helpers in the park because he doesn’t even need a suit. My kids saw him and were in awe- and heck, it even made me believe!! So what if people want his autograph… believing in Santa is part of the magic… and they are right- Disney does not own Santa!!


OK, now consider all the Brazilian tour groups in WDW right now.
Now, picture two or three groups of Brazilians (or Argentines) swarming this faux Santa.
You’ll have a major disruption in no time.
And even though he says he wasn’t dressed like Santa, we don’t know how accurate this statement is, especially in the MK where kids are on the lookout for even the slightest glimpse of a character.

None of us really know exactly what happened, we only have third party descriptions of the incident.
Clearly this man goes out of the way to cultivate his “Santaness”, but just like that Tebow/Broncos shirt, there’s a right and a wrong time to wear it in public.

Each side has a story here, and I for one don’t feel I know enough to opine who I think was right or wrong and why.


But YOU’RE NOT SANTA! So where is the problem in saying, “I’m not Santa. Please leave me alone.”?

He crossed the line when he agreed to sign autographs.

WDW has a duty to protect its guests. Children are taught to trust in the goodness of Santa. By signing autographs, he was telling children he IS Santa. I’m not remotely suggesting this man is dangerous with children, but there are people who would lure children to harm if they could go into the parks and convince children they were someone like Santa. WDW can do no less than stop these encounters when they become aware of them.


Next they are going to throw me out because I look like George Clooney!


Hmmm - well, I would have liked to have seen what he was wearing.

Let’s face it - the man obviously likes the attention. Even without seeing a picture, the article makes it pretty clear that he’s well aware that he looks like Santa. That he signs autographs as “Santa”. The question is…does Disney have the right to tell him to tone it down? And the answer is - yes. It does. He is on their property and they call the shots. Personally, I always wonder about people like this - what causes them to want to be the centre of attention all the time? But that is neither here nor there - even if you think WDW is acting like Scrooge McDuck - they are still in the right.


Aw Tigger:happy: you made me smile…I’d ask for your autograph


Wow, this guy is dead on as Santa for sure. I am not sure whose side I am on on this one. If he was wearing a Santa suit then yes I am on Disney’s side but where do you draw the line. What was he signing the autographs as? Santa? his own name? The article and interview didn’t say. It also didn’t say what he was wearing before Disney made him change clothes into something less Santa-ish. What if someone visiting Disney looked like a well known murderer, criminal, celebrity and people were uncomfortable or swarming around them what would they do? I just undecided on this one.


…Anderson Cooper just had this story on…and clips of the Santa man…Anderson wasn’t very kind to Disney…

I too can see both sides of this…hmmmm. :santa:


SMH! :pinch:


[QUOTE=smallworld;1117306]…Anderson Cooper just had this story on…and clips of the Santa man…Anderson wasn’t very kind to Disney…

Of course not. It’s not news if it doesn’t tear someone or something to shreds.

I still say the autograph signing was the deal breaker. He’s acting like a celebrity one minute and crying “foul” the next.

And in all these cases, these people get free t-shirts, extra FP, and other perks. Which makes it even more pathetic that they take it to the news.

I think I’ll dress up like a pirate this trip so I can get some freebies. :pirate:



He may not be dressed in a Santa costume, but I’m guessing this guy was wearing a red shirt… which is rather iconic of Santa Claus.

I agree with Cavey - that’s not what Santa would say… AND HE’S NOT SANTA!!!

Yeah, the suggested statement is a little rude to the kids, but something like, “I’m sorry - I’m not Santa, but I get mistaken for him all the time!” And maybe even something cutesy like, “I wonder if people ask Santa if he’s Thomas?” :laugh:

No, Disney doesn’t own Santa… but they own their parks, and if they don’t want to let him in anymore, that’s their decision. I think it’s very nice of them to work with him on how he can not look like Santa Claus without shaving the beard. You know he’s getting a lot of perks for his inconvenience. And then he goes and whines to the press… which tells me that this guy KNOWS he looks like Santa and WANTS THE ATTENTION!!! (I’m very fiery today, can you tell? :laugh:)



(I’m very fiery today, can you tell? :laugh:)[/QUOTE]

No. Not really. :rolleyes:


I’m beginning to understand why I’m one of the villains… :ninja: :laugh:


…in the piece on CNN, the Santaman said he wasn’t dressed in a Santa suit, but was wearing a Christmas type shirt with …I think he said…santas all over it…

I’m not sure why parents would encourage children to get autographs of someone just walking thru a Disney park…when he’s not obviously a Disney character…


Agreed. Maybe it was the Brazilians, who didn’t know any better…or the Canadians. :ph34r:



Oh ummm sorry…I mean…oh heavens no not the Canadians…:cool: