An 11-year-old girl was able to truly experience the Disney magic recently thanks to a princess who knew how to communicate with her in American Sign Language.
Zoe Tapley of New Braunfels, Texas, was visiting Disneyland on July 16 with her family when she spotted Princess Anna greeting park-goers nearby. Zoe's mom Jeanette Tapley, 36, told "Good Morning America" that her husband Jesse and Zoe love meeting the different characters when they visit Disney parks and lined up to meet the "Frozen" character.
- 1May 28, 2020
- 2August 2, 2022
"[Princess Anna] must have seen us signing to each other," Jesse Tapley, 38, said. "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.'"
When Zoe approached the cast member, the Tapleys said they were shocked to see Princess Anna knew how to sign more than basic phrases. They engaged in a full ASL conversation about Zoe's favorite rides at Disneyland and how she had been adopted from Congo.
"I was like 'Wow!'" Zoe told "GMA" using ASL -- with Jeanette Tapley's help translating -- after realizing Princess Anna could communicate with her directly.
@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
The interaction brought tears to both Jesse Tapley's and Jeanette Tapley's eyes. It was the first time a park character had ever spoken that in-depth with their daughter, without them having to act as an interpreter.
"We've been to Disney many times and by far it was our best interaction we've ever had," Jesse Tapley said. "It was one of those things where she got to feel the magic rather than being filtered through mom and dad."
The moment was also special because it showcased Zoe's progress with ASL. When Zoe was adopted from Congo 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 said.
She has since worked hard at building her language skills with her parents and at school.
"I progressed, progressed, progressed. And now my language is just full ASL," Zoe said. "At Disney, I was so excited because I got to share with my friends and I got to sign and everything."
A Disney spokesperson said interactions like the one Zoe experienced are "what Disney is all about."
It's about "that feeling of belonging to the Disney magic, and the authentic, emotional moments of connection with our characters and our cast," the spokesperson said.
After capturing the emotional meeting on video, Jeanette Tapley decided to post the clip on TikTok, where it has since garnered more than 2.1 million views.
@jeanettetapley When Princess Anna can sign and have a full conversation with my deaf child. Zoe has never been able to chat with a princess without Jesse or myself interpreting. This was magical. Thank you Princess Anna for making our trip so special! #deafchildren #asl #americansignlanguage #BigInkEnergy #fyp #feelgood #inclusionmatters @Disney Parks @Disneyland California ♬ For the First Time in Forever - From "Frozen"/Soundtrack Version - Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel
Zoe said it's been fun to see the outpouring of support she's received on her mom's video.
"I'm happy to see that people love my video," Zoe said. "These people love it ... and there's no bullying. It's been really, really nice."
Aside from sharing a happy memory, Jeanette Tapley said the video has raised greater awareness of accessibility and what it's like raising a deaf child.
"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," Jeanette said. "It's been really special."
Disney is the parent company of ABC News and "Good Morning America."
Editor's note: This was originally published on Aug. 4, 2022.