This seemed like a situation Tigger probably hadn’t experienced before in the Hundred Acre Wood.
But at Disney World, Tigger the character found himself under investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for inappropriately touching a woman.
Ultimately, the Sheriff’s department ruled the allegation arising from a Magic Kingdom restaurant as unfounded, and law enforcement cleared Tigger, or rather, the man behind the mask.
The Sheriff’s report gives some insight into how tough it can be to play a Disney World character at the Most Magical Place on Earth. The awkwardness of taking selfies blindly with strangers in a costume that’s difficult to maneuver. Having to work a room full of “handsy” women.
What sparked Tigger’s investigation this year were complaints made by a 40-year-old travel agent and the travel agency’s owner, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Office report that took the agency four months to release publicly.
The agency owner invited 40 travel agents to Walt Disney World to celebrate her business’ success. At dinner one night, they ate at the Crystal Palace restaurant known for having Disney characters visit the tables.
The agency owner complained that Tigger — known for his high energy in “Winnie the Pooh” — was “acting off.”
“She attempted to clarify that Tigger’s interactions were not what she was used to from a costumed character. She stated that he was being ‘overly silly and flirtatious,’” the Sheriff’s report said.
Then the agency owner said she saw Tigger slide his hand down and touch the 40-year-old travel agent’s rear end and make a laughing gesture when the two posed for a picture together at a nearby table, the Sheriff’s report said.
The agency owner believed she had video proving Tigger committed a crime. She reported what she believed she saw to the character attendants and the restaurant’s leaders.
Law enforcement spoke with the 40-year-old travel agent who “at times appeared scared or upset” and “looked as if she had been crying,” the Sheriff’s report said.
The 40-year-old said she felt Tigger’s hand slide down when they posed for a selfie and she immediately felt uncomfortable, moving away to another table, the report said.
The 40-year-old wanted Tigger prosecuted.
Law enforcement interviewed the two character attendants whose job was to watch out for the well-being of both the characters and the guests.
Both women on duty that night at Crystal Palace said they did not see Tigger touch anyone inappropriately.
One attendant remembered hearing a woman say, “I think Tigger grabbed my ass,” the report noted.
The attendant wasn’t alarmed.
“She did not think much of the comment as it was in passing and costumed characters sometimes make unintended contact with guests due to their extremely limited field of vision,” the report said.
The two character attendants opened up about the atmosphere in the restaurant, describing the room of women as “energetic” and “very loud and crazy with Tigger, bouncing with him and taking group and individual photos,” the report said.
One attendant described the travel agents as “handsy” with Tigger.
“They kept touching his tail and making inappropriate comments. Upon getting to table 36 Tigger was bouncing and dancing and having fun with the guests,” the report said.
When a deputy brought up the agency owner’s concerns about Tigger’s behavior, one character attendant said she joked with the other THAT they were the ones who needed help because the women were acting so wild.
The Sheriff’s investigation turned to the 22-year-old man who played Tigger 25 to 28 hours every week at the restaurant. The 22-year-old was cooperative and spoke openly with law enforcement, the report said.
“He took pictures with lots of females but did not notice anything that would have made guests uncomfortable,” the report said.
The 22-year-old watched an 11-second video the travel agency owner captured showing the 40-year-old posing for a selfie with Tigger. The video was shot from behind Tigger.
In the video, the travel agent holds her phone at an extreme angle so the phone is almost directly over her head. Tigger bends over at an odd angle to fit into the frame with her.
“As she goes to take the picture, Tigger’s hand comes off of her shoulder, almost at falling speed. His arm goes in the direction of her buttocks but from the angle of the video it’s not completely clear if he touches her buttocks as his arm falls,” the report said.
In his costume, Tigger was often partially blind when he interacted with guests, even in the best of circumstances.
The 22-year-old said he “cannot see anything below the upper chest level while looking straight, and cannot see anything beyond approximately 30 degrees on either side of him,” all of which makes guest interactions very difficult, he said.
And in this case, “he was unable to see the woman taking the selfie due to the extreme angle of the phone and his limited vision from the character costume,” the report said, ultimately ruling the allegations against Tigger are “unfounded at this time.”
Florida Politics is not naming the man who played Tigger because he was not arrested and has not been charged with a crime, according to Orange Circuit Court records.