Disney Theme Parks Relax Their 'No Beard' Rule


Beards at DisneyDisney (DIS) is loosening up its strict dress code for theme park employees.

Starting a week from Friday, Disney will allow its hires to sport beards and goatees.

That's a pretty bold step for the family entertainment giant. Disney has always had rigid grooming requirements. The rules governing the wholesome and clean image presented by theme park employees -- whom the company calls "cast members" because they are part of the show -- dates back to Walt Disney's tight standards for appearance.

Even a mustache like the one Walt himself sported was forbidden for guest-facing cast members until just a few years ago.

However, Disney has been relaxing its dress code in response to changing cultural mind-sets. For example, for the past two years, women have no longer been required to wear pantyhose if they're donning skirts.

It's a Big World, After All

Disney has also made exceptions overseas.

When Euro Disney (Now Disneyland Paris) opened in France 20 years ago, management's relationship with labor went downhill fast over the 13-page "Disney Look" manual, which dictated everything from the acceptable size of earrings to the maximum length of fingernails. In the open-minded French culture, Disney's restrictions on dyed hair or facial hair seemed barbaric, if not outright imperialistic.

The theme park operator eventually cut France's cast members some slack, though its stringent dress code lived on -- and in many ways continues to live on -- at its Florida and California attractions.

Getting Ready for the Show

Beards and goatees aren't the only new fashion statements being ushered in a week from Friday. Disney is following the example of many of its Fortune 500 peers by instituting a casual Friday dress code. However, that will only apply to employees who don't deal directly with park guests.

It's probably also worth noting that not all beards will be Magic Kingdom legal. Disney will only allow beards that are shorter than a quarter of an inch. In other words, six of Snow White's seven dwarves still won't meet the standard.

What else is mandated by the Disney dress code? Here are some interesting nuggets, culled from a recent Los Angeles Times article:

  • No visible tattoos of any kind are allowed.
  • Body piercings are limited to earrings on female cast members.
  • Extreme hairstyles and hair colors are not to be sported.
  • Women were finally allowed to wear sleeveless shirts in 2010, but the straps must be at least three inches wide.

Hakuna Matata

Time's change, and Disney's dress code will evolve ... slowly.

Despite the strict standards, Disney has never struggled to fill open positions on either coast. In recessions or boom times, there's a romanticized notion of working for Disney. The pay may be meager for entry-level employees, and it doesn't get a whole lot better on the way up. The working conditions -- especially for costumed characters during the hot summer months -- can be grueling.

However, the opportunity to be at the other end of a positive guest experience is too potent to ignore for Disney fans who want to try their hand at being part of the show.

For guys at least, that no longer has to involve a daily date with the razor.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney.

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Who cares? Another non news article.

January 27 2012 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

So now the muslims can grow their beards back!!!!

January 27 2012 at 12:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Artie, your comment sounded odd: "At least, Disney is becoming more reasonable about facial hair and perhaps the comfort level it affords their female employees."

As a regular visitor to WDW in Florida, I have never seen any of the female employees with facial hair -- not even a faint moustache. :-)

However, in an attempt to make sure that everyone is fair to everybody, I'm sure it won't be too long until I see a few hairy legs sticking out from those employee skirts at WDW. After all, if you can't make the guys shave, you can't make the women shave either!

Seriously though, Disney does some strange things occasionally -- like having Whoopi Goldberg as one of the "celebrity guests" at Disney's Christmas Processional at Epcot. It was Whoopi who was defending Roman Polanski, stating, "It wasn't *rape* rape!" (like there's a good and bad kind). Go figure....

January 26 2012 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Like the article says, the dress code and business about facial hair hasn't resulted in Disney not being able to staff it's parks. At least , Disney is becoming more reasonable about facial hair and perhaps the comfort level it affords their female employees. Walt and Roy Disney both had mustaches and yet employees weren't allowed to have them, which is kind of hypocritical. I do think some kind of "reasonable" dress code and appearance restrictions should be imposed in the Disney parks, though, as they are family oriented. The problem is that most of the time when you give in an inch people start pushing the envelope and try to take a yard, especially creative and artsy types.

January 26 2012 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a beard myself, but I'm sad to see Disney caving in further on its trademark well-scrubbed all-American image. The slide into sloppy slovenly casual continues. Particularly sad was the abandonment of the requirement that women had to wear sheer hose. They somehow provide a polished, finished look that is indispensable, and bare legs are just jarringly half-dressed and casual.

January 26 2012 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Back in the 60's,Disneyland would not allow "Hippies" to enter.If you were a guy with a beard and long hair, meaning much below the collar, you were turned away at the door. And forget about trying to get in with any peace signs on your clothes or anything else controversial.

January 26 2012 at 10:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to midamerfrn's comment

Sounds great. Whatever laws get in the way of such a policy returning need to be scrapped, and any judges that would do the same forcibly retired.

January 26 2012 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply