11-Year-Old Deaf Girl Visits Disneyland With Family – They Are Shocked When They See How One Princess Interacts With Them
Princess Anna’s ASL skills are going viral.
Going to Disneyland or Disney World is a rite of passage for many lucky families. But it can also be an overwhelming and exhausting journey for the best of us, especially when you’re dealing with special circumstances — like a child with a disability.
That’s where the park staff can make all the difference. Like one cast member did in this heartwarming story.
A Routine Visit
Last summer, 11-year-old Zoe Tapley and her family were visiting Disneyland from Texas. Zoe and her adoptive father, Jesse, love meeting the different characters when they visit the theme parks. So when they spotted Princess Anna, they beelined for her.
The family waited patiently in line until it was their turn. Then, Princess Anna did something that shocked the whole family: she asked if it was okay to sign with them.
“[She] must have seen us signing to each other,” Jesse told Good Morning America. “Sometimes the characters will know, like, ‘What’s your name?’ or ‘Nice to meet you’ and that’s awesome. But when she said, ‘Can I sign?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’”
The Tapleys were shocked that Princess Anna not only engaged with their daughter but she asked her several questions about her park experience and about how she had been adopted from Congo. It brought the parents to tears.
“We’ve been to Disney many times and by far it was our best interaction we’ve ever had,” Jesse said. “It was one of those things where she got to feel the magic rather than being filtered through Mom and Dad.”
A Milestone Moment
@jeanettetapley To say we are thankful is an understatement. Really the best way to sum it up is WOW!!!! ???? #WeStickTogether #PostitAffirmations #disneyfamily #deaftiktok #deafkidsrock ♬ Home Baking – Matthew Beattie
Aside from getting the full Princess treatment, Zoe’s interaction with Princess Anna was special for another reason: it showed the family just how far their daughter had come with learning ASL. According to them, when Zoe was adopted seven years ago, she didn’t know any sign language.
“I was really quiet and shy and I didn’t know how to learn language,” Zoe told GMA through a translator. “I progressed, progressed, progressed. And now my language is just full ASL,” she continued. “At Disney, I was so excited because I got to share with my friends and I got to sign and everything.”
According to Disney, these are the kinds of special experiences it strives to achieve for their guests. “[It’s] that feeling of belonging to the Disney magic, and the authentic, emotional moments of connection with our characters and our cast,” a spokesperson told GMA.
Zoe’s mother, Jeanette, was so touched by the moment she posted it on TikTok to share. The video (which she cleverly set to “For the First Time in Forever”) quickly went viral with more than 2.2 million views and thousands of comments.
“For the first time in forever, Zoe met a princess and didn’t have to have us interpret,” she wrote. “Princess… Excuse me, Queen Anna just started signing and chatting with Zoe. It was magical.”
“Anna would absolutely be the type of queen to learn sign language to communicate with all her citizens,” wrote one person.
“ASL interpreter here. Anna’s signing is so fluid. I’m willing to bet she’s a CODA or a SODA, not just learning it for the job,” added another.
For Jeanette, people paying attention to the video is just another win for the deaf community. “There’s just this joy of seeing ASL being celebrated and being the spotlight … that’s so beautiful and so important to our family and to her culture,” she told GMA. “It’s been really special.”
A Memory of a Lifetime
The ability to communicate is such a powerful tool. Being able to speak another person’s language and to make them feel seen and heard is always a beautiful thing.
This story, in particular, is so great because of the young girl at the center of it, not to mention the magic of Disney. But it’s also applicable to everyday life.
Whether it’s hiring someone who knows multiple languages for a job you’re posting, learning a new language in your spare time, or putting your kids in a school where they’ll learn another way to speak, increasing your ability to communicate is important. Not only will it give you more confidence and insight into other cultures, but it may come in handy in an unexpected way someday.
Just like Princess Anna and her ASL skills did that one hot summer day at Disneyland.