Fact Check: Disney Did Not 'Cancel' Tinker Bell. Here's Why People Keep Sharing This False Rumor

A rumor claimed Disney canceled Tinker Bell for having a supposed problematic image for young girls.
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Disney "canceled" the "Peter Pan" character Tinker Bell in May 2024.


Rating: False
Rating: False

In May 2024, online users shared a false rumor claiming Disney "canceled" the "Peter Pan" fictional character Tinker Bell, with some people blaming the alleged move on politically-based "woke" culture. Some posts cited a bit of purported news saying Disney recently removed meet-and-greet signage for the Tinker Bell costumed character from the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

In a smaller, secondary claim, users also reposted a quote purportedly sourced from an unnamed Disney representative (only referenced as a "Disney rep") saying the company planned to redesign Tinker Bell's theme park character "for modern audiences" due to her "problematic image." The quote contained several errors in grammar:

"Tinkerbell, unfortunately, has become an problematic image for our guests; specifically, young girls. Specifically, in terms of the portrayal of an unrealistic body image as well as dependency of approval and/or attention from Peter Pan, as seen in previous incarnations of the character. We feel these traits are no longer representive of our inclusive focused values and thus, are currently in process of redesigning an updated Tinkerbell for modern audiences."

- Disney Rep, May 2024

As of this writing, the rumor that Disney "canceled" Tinker Bell was false. TMZ.com reported on May 15 a Disney spokesperson sent them the following quote regarding the "canceled" rumor: "Tinker Bell is a beloved character, and she continues to appear in all of our parks around the world." Further, as for the "Disney rep" quote, a spokesperson for Disney told Snopes they have no record of a company representative ever saying those words.

On May 16, the travel and Disney fan blog Adventures in Familyhood reported a "ton" of Tinker Bell merchandise is still available on DisneyStore.com and the character's computer-animated films are still available on the Disney+ streaming service with no disclaimers. Also, the Tinker Bell costumed character's meet-and-greets reportedly stopped in 2020 when Walt Disney World closed and then reopened during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The family blog said Disney previously removed other characters and added such meet-and-greets have "come and gone" before. The rumor in May 2024 specifically concerned a removal of signage, despite what many users were claiming and some journalists were writing. The end of the article added, "And if you believe that Disney 'canceled' Tinker Bell, you must at least concede they did a horrible job at it. After all, she certainly isn't gone."

Further, a February 2024 article from the official planDisney website named locations where park guests can spot costumed or other versions of Tinker Bell around the Magic Kingdom, including at a fireworks show, in a parade, on a ride and in statue form. Additionally, the Walt Disney World website dedicates an entire page to the "Meet Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow" character experience at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, with dates and times for appearances scheduled for the rest of the month of May.

For readers interested in how we arrived at this point in time with the "canceled" rumor and the apparently-fake "Disney rep" quote both becoming such a viral matter, the rest of this story pieces together a chronological timeline of posts and articles.


April 17: New York Times Article

To properly document how the rumor about Disney "canceling" Tinker Bell started, we'll begin with an article published by The New York Times on April 17, 2022. The article centered on Disney's entanglement in the world of American political divisiveness, a situation it remains in to this day, as we have once again confirmed through the primary rumor examined in this fact check.

One section of the Times article reported how Disney approached the review process for its content library ahead of the 2019 launch of Disney+. One task for the company's diversity and inclusion initiative named Stories Matter included adding disclaimers to content featuring "negative depictions or mistreatment of people or cultures." The article said "The Muppet Show" from the 1970s and the 1941 animated film "Dumbo" were two examples of content receiving disclaimers.

The Times' article mentioned the word "problematic" in the paragraph prior to naming Tinker Bell. That same word appeared more than two years later in May 2024 in various online posts and article headlines, as well as in the supposed quote from the "Disney rep." The Times' article read as follows:

The Stories Matter team privately flagged other characters as potentially problematic, with the findings distributed to senior Disney leaders, according to two current Disney executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information. Ursula, the villainous sea witch from "The Little Mermaid" (1989), was one. Her dark color palette (lavender skin, black legs) could be viewed through a racial lens, the Stories Matter team cautioned; she is also a "queer coded" character, with mannerisms inspired in part by those of a real-life drag queen.

Tinker Bell was marked for caution because she is "body conscious" and jealous of Peter Pan's attention, according to the executives, while Captain Hook could expose Disney to accusations of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities because he is a villain.

This lone mention of the word "problematic" in this April 2022 article was apparently key to the creation of the May 2024 false rumor and "problematic image" quote purportedly sourced to the unnamed "Disney rep."


May 3: WDW News Today Article

Fast forwarding to May 3, 2024 – more than two years after The New York Times published its story – the Disney fan blog WDW News Today (WDWNT) simply reported, "Signs for a Tinker Bell meet and greet have been removed from Town Square Theater, years after the character stopped meeting guests there." The Town Square Theater is located inside the Magic Kingdom.

May 5: 'Inside the Magic' Article

Two days later, on May 5, the Disney fan blog Inside the Magic also reported Disney removed the meet-and-greet signage for the Tinker Bell character from Town Square Theater. According to the story, Tinker Bell's meet-and-greets did not return when the park reopened months after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The headline of the Inside the Magic article likely raised some eyebrows: "Disney Park Takes Action: Tinker Bell Indefinitely Suspended Following Controversial Incident." We previously reported about Inside the Magic's history of publishing misleading headlines.

Inside the Magic described the purported "controversial incident" referenced in the headline as a March 2022 school performance occurring inside the Magic Kingdom featuring a "chant with offensive stereotypes." The matter was more than two years old and apparently had nothing directly to do with the costumed Tinker Bell character who greets park guests.

The rumor Disney "canceled" Tinker Bell and the supposed "Disney rep" quote about the character's "problematic image" – both circulating in mid-May 2024 – were both possibly inspired by users reading both Inside the Magic's headline and article and the old quote from the Times' article. After all, Inside the Magic's article referenced and linked to the older Times article without explicitly saying the story was published more than two years before.

May 7: TheStreet.com's Article and Instagram Post

In another key moment in this timeline of events, on May 7, TheStreet.com published, "Disney World cuts classic character from meet-and-greets amid scrutiny." The article's author appeared to try to connect Inside the Magic's May 2024 reporting about the removal of signage to The New York Times' "potentially problematic" quote from April 2022, despite no evidence yet revealed of the two being in any way related.

Further, TheStreet.com's Instagram page published a post displaying an image with the caption, "Disney Cuts Tinker Bell from Meet and Greets, Labeling Her as a 'Problematic Character.'" While TheStreet.com apparently sourced the word "problematic" from the Times' April 2022 article, it's unclear where "problematic character" originated, considering the Instagram post displays the two words as a direct quote with quotation marks. This post apparently misled some users who viewed and then reposted the image, as we'll explain below.

A rumor claimed Disney canceled Tinker Bell for having a supposed problematic image for young girls.
A rumor claimed Disney canceled Tinker Bell for having a supposed problematic image for young girls.

TheStreet.com published this image on its Instagram page on May 7, 2024.

May 9: 'Disney Rep' Quote

On May 9, a Facebook user named Chris Williams posted in the Facebook group named The Nerds District what may have been the first share of the "Disney rep" quote. Again, a spokesperson for Disney told Snopes they have no record of a company representative ever saying those words. His post also featured the image from TheStreet.com's Instagram post.

A rumor claimed Disney canceled Tinker Bell for having a supposed problematic image for young girls.
A rumor claimed Disney canceled Tinker Bell for having a supposed problematic image for young girls.

We contacted Williams by Messenger to ask about the post but did not receive a response within close to 24 hours.

May 10: Fox News Article

On May 10, Fox News host Tomi Lahren reported for Fox News Radio, "Disney World gives Tinker Bell the boot over concerns she is a 'problematic character.'" She continued, "In yet another woke Disney disaster, fan favorite character Tinkerbell has been cut from meet and greets at the park."

Yet again, the quote featuring the word "problematic" in the Times' April 2022 article featured right alongside the supposed more recent news about the character meet and greets.

May 13: Tinker Bell 'Canceled'

On May 13, a user on X named Pamela Garfield-Jaeger (@truththerapist) posted, "Tinkerbell [sic] is cancelled now. 'Tinkerbell unfortunately has become a problematic image for our guests…' Woke destroys everything. No wonder mental health is declining." Her post featured a screenshot of Williams' Facebook post and the purported "Disney rep" quote, which again included the Instagram post from TheStreet.com.

Garfield-Jaeger's post was simply just one of a seemingly countless number of posts from users who also shared the same quote and image from TheStreet.com's Instagram page. Garfield-Jaeger did not respond to our email within close to 24 hours.

A rumor claimed Disney canceled Tinker Bell for having a supposed problematic image for young girls.
A rumor claimed Disney canceled Tinker Bell for having a supposed problematic image for young girls.

Layer upon layer, the rumor and apparently-fake "Disney rep" quote continued to be mashed together and virally shared, all based upon other posts from previous days and the reporting from articles published more than two years apart – those articles being the Times' April 2022 story and more recent pieces including the Inside the Magic story.

Spreading Like Wildfire

On May 13, EvieMagazine.com embedded Garfield-Jaeger's post in an article displaying the headline, "Disney Reportedly Cancels Tinker Bell Because She's A 'Problematic Image' For Young Girls, Will No Longer Hold Meet-And-Greets."

On May 14, the YouTube channel for conservative commentator Ben Shapiro published a video with the misleading video title, "Disney Erases Tinker Bell." In the video, Shapiro continued the viral rumor's trend of drawing a line from the "problematic" quote in the Times' April 2022 article to more recent reporting about the removal of character signage, despite the current lack of evidence the two stories were in any way related. Shapiro also read directly from the Times article and noticeably omitted and skipped over reading the six words in the story mentioning content in "Dumbo."

On May 15, BizPacReview.com published, "'Woke' Disney reportedly cancels 'problematic' pixie Tinkerbell." Articles and videos like these explained in some detail the ins and outs of this matter. However, the headlines of these sorts of stories did not appear to provide much help to readers seeking the truth.

We sent messages to some of the social media users named in this article and will update this story if we receive any answers to our questions.


Barnes, Brooks. "Disney, Built on Fairy Tales and Fantasy, Confronts the Real World." The New York Times, 17 Apr. 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/17/business/disney-politics-florida.html.

Cameron, James. "No, Tinker Bell Was NOT Removed from WDW for Being 'Problematic.'" Adventures in Familyhood, 16 May 2024, https://adventuresinfamilyhood.com/tinker-bell-not-removed-for-being-problematic.html.

"Disney Updates Content Warning for Racism in Classic Films." BBC.com, 15 Oct. 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54566087.

"Meet Mickey at Town Square Theater." Walt Disney World, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/magic-kingdom/character-meet-mickey-town-square/.

"Meet Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow." Disneyland Park, https://disneyland.disney.go.com/entertainment/disneyland/pixie-hollow-tinkerbell-fairy-friends/.

Stories Matter - The Walt Disney Company. https://storiesmatter.thewaltdisneycompany.com/.

"Tinker Bell Meet & Greet Signs Removed from Town Square Theater & More: Daily Recap (5/3/24)." WDW News Today, 3 May 2024, https://wdwnt.com/2024/05/tinker-bell-meet-greet-signs-removed-from-town-square-theater-more-daily-recap-5-3-24/.

"Tinker Bell Not Canceled, Still Makes Disney Park Appearances Despite Reports." TMZ, 15 May 2024, https://www.tmz.com/2024/05/15/tinker-bell-not-canceled-disney-park-appearances-despite-reports/.

"Why Does Tinkerbell No Longer Have a Meet and Greet and Are Their Plans to Bring Her Back?" planDisney, 26 Feb. 2024, https://plandisney.disney.go.com/question/why-tinkerbell-no-longer-meet-greet-plans-bring-back-567110/.


May 19, 2024: This report was updated to add the fact a spokesperson for Disney told Snopes they have no record of a company representative ever saying the words in the supposed "Disney rep" quote.