Local mother asked by Disney park employee to cover up at California Adventure

SAN DIEGO - A local family's first trip to the Disneyland resort in Anaheim was marred, they say, by a comment made by a park employee. A Tierrasanta mother contacted 10News to say she was asked by a park employee to cover up because of her clothing.

"This was our first family vacation and for me, it was ruined," said Melissa Behnken, whose husband is in the U.S. Marine Corps. 

A week later, she is still in disbelief.

"This gentleman out of nowhere comes up to me and just says, 'You need to pull your top up,'" she said. "I was looking at him like, 'Excuse me? Are you serious?'"

Behnken said the elderly male park employee was dead serious. She says he added, "'This is a family park. You are showing too much.'"

It happened at the front gates of Disney's California Adventure Park. 10News asked her to wear the same shirt again during an interview on Tuesday. Behnken showed 10News in photos that it was the same outfit she wore to the park last week.

"My husband just got back from deployment," Behnken said. She had waited a long time to make the trip.

Even her 9-year-old daughter Hailey could not believe what she heard that day.

"I heard him say to put on a sweater or to pull her shirt up," Hailey said.

Behnken said, "I guess women with large chests are expected to wear turtlenecks their whole lives."

She said she filed a report with guest relations at the park and then filled out a formal complaint online once they returned home.

Behnken is seeking an apology and hopes the park employee will not do the same to other women.

"Maybe they need to do more exclusive training on what is OK to say to people that come there," she said.

10News reached out to Disneyland but did not receive a comment. Late Tuesday afternoon, the family said that after 10News asked for that statement, a spokesperson for Disneyland called the family to apologize for the attendant's behavior.

According to Disneyland's Website,  their FAQ's section states that there is a dress code:

The parks are a casual, family-oriented environment. We suggest you dress comfortably, wear good walking shoes and check the local weather report before you leave for the parks.

Ensuring that the parks are family friendly is an important part of the Disney experience. In that spirit, we ask you to use your discretion and common sense. Attire that is not appropriate for the theme parks (and which may result in refusal of admittance) includes but is not limited to:

  • Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character
  • Masks (unless you are dressing up for a particular event)
  • Clothing with objectionable material, including obscene language or graphics
  • Excessively torn clothing
  • Clothing which, by nature, exposes excessive portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment
  • Tattoos that could be considered objectionable, such as with obscene language or graphics

A Guest is allowed into the parks if her or his hair (or make-up, if applicable) has been made to resemble a Disney Princess or character (for example, after a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover) provided the Guest is not also wearing a costume or clothed to look like the character.


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