Disney announced it is making major changes to the “Disney Look” worn by theme park employees, who are known as “cast members” in Disney lingo. The shift comes as the company looks to create a more inclusive workplace for its employees and to share a more diverse environment with its park guests.
In an April 13 post at the Disney Parks Blog, Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, shared the company’s vision of making Walt Disney’s statement “To all who come to this happy place: Welcome” more of a reality.
“Walt Disney spoke these words during the dedication of the Disneyland Resort in 1955. Today, more than 65 years later, they continue to inspire us — and remind us that the magic we make must include everyone,” D’Amaro said in the announcement.
The changes to the Disney look will mean greater flexibility for cast members to reflect their own personality through “gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos,” the statement says.
The History Of The Disney Look
The shift is a significant step away from the strict dress code upheld by Disney Parks management since Disneyland opened in July 1955. For years, cast members had limited options in costume attire and even personal grooming habits. Hair length was closely regulated. Men had to be clean-shaven. Women could not wear jewelry and visible tattoos were forbidden.
In 2019, the company announced a change to the Disney look that allowed men to grow beards and goatees up to 1-inch long and permitted all cast members to wear a single bracelet or necklace.
The new changes, though, are much more comprehensive to reflect an evolving world.
“We’re updating them to not only remain relevant in today’s workplace, but also enable our cast members to better express their cultures and individuality at work,” D’Amaro said in the announcement. “Moving forward, we believe our cast, who are at the center of the magic that lives in all our experiences, can provide the best of Disney’s legendary guest service when they have more options for personal expression — creating richer, more personal and more engaging experiences with our guests.”
Reactions to the changes to the Disney look started appearing on social media soon after the announcement.
Journalist Ashley Carter, a former Disney cast member, welcomed the news on Twitter, writing, “Hopefully, cast members will feel more comfortable while doing their jobs. And none of these changes prevent them from delivering excellent guest service.”
As someone who once had to adhere to the "Disney Look," I'm happy about the changes. It's about moving forward. Hopefully, cast members will feel more comfortable while doing their jobs. And none of these changes prevent them from delivering excellent guest service.
— Ashley Carter (@AshleyLCarter1) April 13, 2021
Orlando local and theme park influencer Bretatouille posted an appreciation of Disney’s consideration of cast member comfort, as well as the appearance of the parks.
The Disney Look changes are huge because the focus is going from “what makes our parks look timeless” moving to “how can we make our employees feel more comfortable?”. If you’re not okay with the changes and not an employee of the Walt Disney company your opinion doesn’t matter
— Bretatouille (@Schmoofy) April 13, 2021
New Guidelines For The Disney Look
So, what exactly are the changes to the Disney look? Here’s a quick rundown on what you may see Disney cast members wearing during your next trip to a theme park. The details were leaked to various theme park fan websites and social media outlets and are contained in an actual Disney Look Book given to cast members.
Facial Hair: From now on, Disney will not limit the length of facial hair. However, it must be “neatly groom and well maintained.” Cast members may also shave lines or shapes in facial hair, as long as they meet the standards of non-offensive words or symbols.
Hairstyles and colors: Hair length is now at the Cast Member’s discretion. However, if the hair is below shoulder length, it needs to up off the face and away from the name tag during working hours. Hair coloring is allowed if it is a naturally occurring color (for example no blues, greens, pinks or purples).
Nails: Nail polish is allowed, but all nails must be the same, solid color, or in a French manicure style. Cast members are not allowed to wear charms or decals on their nails, and the nails must be kept to no longer than one-fourth of an inch beyond the fingertip.
Tattoos: Visible tattoos are now allowed. However, they may not be on the face, head or neck. Any visible tattoo must be no longer than the cast member’s hand when fully extended with the fingers held together. Tattoos must adhere to company policy and not depict nudity nor offensive language.
Disney cast members helped to create the new set of guidelines for the Disney look. Conversations between employees and company leaders began in 2019, according to the announcement.
“Every Disney Parks cast member is familiar with our longstanding tradition of The Four Keys – Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency – which have guided our approach to guest service for more than 65 years,” D’Amato’s statement at Disney Parks Blog reads.
“And when we asked our cast how we could better cultivate a culture of belonging, they suggested the addition of a fifth key: the key of Inclusion,” it continues.
In conjunction with the addition of the fifth key, Disney started tackling some of these challenges inside the parks with announcements of re-theming major attractions such as Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise to remove racial and cultural stereotypes.
Disney also released a video highlighting some of the changes coming to the theme parks, both on-stage and behind-the-scenes as it moves to expand its culture of inclusion.
“Inclusion is essential to our culture and leads us forward as we continue to realize our rich legacy of engaging storytelling, exceptional service and Disney magic,” D’Amaro said.