Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bring On the Beards at Disney!

Will we see this guy working in Frontierland?
One of the things I find most magical about the Disney Parks are the traditions.

Many of them go back to Walt Disney himself.

He laid out a strict set of rules and guidelines that he believed would set his parks apart from others.

For instance, you weren't supposed to see any maintenance going on while the park was open.  You also weren't supposed to see a costumed cast member from one land walking through another.

Small things like this made Disneyland better than other parks that operated around the same time.

One of the rules that has been active for 60 years is that on-stage cast members would not have any facial hair.

In the 1950's and 60's, long hair and beards were considered to be what the 'beatniks" and "hippies" wore. When you went to a carnival or run-down amusement park, most of the people working there were sporting this "unkempt look."

Walt wanted Disneyland to be different... he wanted all of the employees to look friendly and approachable.  He felt that a guy who looked like a biker probably wouldn't be the best ambassador, as nice as he may be.

So, the policy at Disney Parks has been that all male employees have short haircuts and no facial hair. There was a slight change to this policy in 2000, when Disney allowed male employees to have neatly trimmed mustaches.

But yesterday, Disney sent out this message to its employees:

“The Disney Look is an important part of the history and heritage of the Walt Disney Company. As the company continues to evolve, the Disney Look appearance guidelines must also be prepared to be re-evaluated with awareness to industry standards. Effective Friday, Feb. 3, facial hair, specifically beards and goatees are now an approved option for U.S. based Walt Disney Theme Parks and Resorts costumed and non-costumed male Cast Members, unless otherwise restricted by regulatory codes and standards."

Wait, what? Awareness to industry standards? Last time I checked, Disney IS the industry standard!

Look, I'm not one of those Disney nuts who freaks out everytime a change is made.

To tell you the truth, this issue doesn't really bother me at all.  Interacting with some guy in a goatee isn't going to ruin my day at Disney.  Just as long as that dude in the goatee keeps The Haunted Mansion running smoothly and keeps the monorails and buses on time.

But, I guess it's a bit of a bummer that one of the traditions that makes Disney special is gone.

It was one of the fun trivia facts that you could tell someone as they made their first visit to a Disney Park.  It was one of the interesting rules that was laid out by Walt Disney himself.  It was one of the things that separated Disney World and Disneyland from any other park.

It isn't something to get upset over, but it does bring Disney just a tiny step closer to Six Flags.

1 comment:

Michael said...

You left out the rest of the memo, which says "As with mustaches, all facial hair (beards, goatees, mustaches) must create an overall neat, polished and professional look and must be fully grown in, neatly groomed and well-maintained at no longer than a quarter of an inch in length."

Its not like we're going to see cast members with big hobo beards wandering the parks now.

I don't think this rule change a big deal at all. In fact, I've always found the no facial hair rule funny, considering Walt himself had a moustache.

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