10 Dress Code Rules Every Disney Employee Must Follow
No matter what your role, when you work at Disney, you're always on stage.
Deodorant is not optional
Seems like common sense that wearing a heavy Buzz Lightyear suit in the hot sun is not the time to skimp on deodorant or antiperspirant. But it’s not just character-based Disney employees that are mandated to slap on some deo—they all are. As noted in the Disney’s employee ‘bible’ aptly called The Disney Look, “Due to close contact with Guests and fellow Cast Members the use of an antiperspirant or deodorant is required.”
Regular bathing and frequent hand washing are not left to common sense either and clearly mandated in the look book. And forget about dousing yourself in cologne or perfume; that’s verboten, too.
This personal hygiene mandate may have materialized back in the 1960s. David Koenig, the author of five books about Disney, told the New York Post that the inside of costumes could reach a whopping 130 degrees. Fortunately, those costumes are better ventilated now than they used to be! Find out which 15 items are banned from Disney parks.
A peek underneath
The Disney Look book is picky about what you’re wearing, not only on the outside but all the way down to your undergarments. If it’s visible beneath “a light-colored costume or business attire,” it’s a no-no.
Even crewnecks have rules when it comes to working for Mickey and crew. “Costumed Cast Members may wear a solid white crewneck or V-neck undershirt under costumes with a traditional neckline. Undershirts should be only minimally visible at the neckline and should not extend past the sleeves. Non-costumed Cast Members may wear any solid color undershirt that is complementary to the outfit.”
You might think these rules are strict, but Disney has come a long way with its rules around boxers and briefs. In the past, Disney characters walking around the park had to wear costumes that included park-owned underwear. Although they were supposedly washed, workers complained about getting lice and scabies (Yikes!). The Teamsters union had to step in to get personal undies the Disney approval.
Don’t hide behind sunglasses
At Disney, looking someone in the eye is a must. In fact, The Disney Look emphatically states, “Sunglasses are a block to interpersonal communication with Guests and should be avoided if possible. Only sunglasses that allow your eyes to be seen are permitted. No mirrored or dark, opaque lenses are allowed.” You can also leave those flashy frames at home. Both sunglasses and eyeglasses “should not detract from the costume or contradict the theme of the show.”
They can be flexible with nail styles
Previously, Disney had a dress code that not only stipulated that fingernails be clean but also requires nail polish remain a neutral shade. However, that’s changed. In an April 2021 blog post, Disney’s Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Josh D’Amaro, announced that Disney unraveled a more flexible and gender-inclusive dress code. Part of that dress code includes allowing more flexibility with nail styles, so don’t be surprised if you see cast members sporting new styles on their nails.
Do as I say, not as I do
Walt Disney may have sported his own mustache, but one of his many regulations for park employees was no facial hair allowed. In fact, it wasn’t until 2000 that Disney became a little more lenient in the facial fuzz department. The facial hair rule for cast members is: “For Cast Members, a fully grown in, well-maintained mustache, beard, or goatee is permitted unless otherwise restricted by regulatory codes and standards. Facial hair must be neatly trimmed and may not present an unkempt appearance. Extreme styles are prohibited.”
They can show appropriate tattoos
Previously, Disney had strict rules regarding tattoos and piercings, and any other noticeable body modification that didn’t fall in line with the company’s clean-cut image. However, those rules are now more flexible. Part of Disney’s April 2021 announcement regarding a more flexible dress code includes allowing cast members to show appropriate visible tattoos. In regards to the new policies, D’Amaro’s blog post states, “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.”
Learn more about what it’s like to work as a Disney character, straight from a woman who played Alice from Alice in Wonderland.
Avoid hair-raising hair colors
In line with Disney’s previous etiquette protocol, the rules stated that one’s hair and/or hairstyle shouldn’t stand out. The Disney Look touted classic, simple hair styling whether it’s a classic up-do or shoulder-length cut. However, the new dress code does allow more flexibility with hairstyles, although hair color still needs to look natural.
Spare the Spandex
Even the fabric you choose to wear has a time and place, according to The Disney Look. In other words, save the Spandex for yoga. If it’s gauze, metallic and sheer, think curtains, not Disney—and avoid clinging knits and denim. Although you might be a fan of that large Gucci logo, Disney is not. Nor are they fond of patterns that contain large graphics or seem more like casual wear.
They can wear certain jewelry
When it comes to accessorizing, simple and classic jewelry pieces have been Disney’s standard. Your basic “rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, lapel pins, and a business-style wristwatch” made the cut, though it’s important to note, that’s only one ring per hand, not counting a wedding band or set. However, Disney’s new dress code does allow for more flexibility surrounding jewelry, so don’t be surprised if you see cast members sporting more bling in the parks.
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Think Disney with every move
Would Aladdin chew gum while flying on his magic carpet? Would Prince Charming ever be caught wearing a frown on his face? That may be OK if you’re playing the part of Snow White‘s Grumpy, but not a charming prince. That’s why one of the very first things The Disney Look reinforces is that, “No matter where you work or what your role is, anytime you are in a public area, you are onstage.” Stage presence is everywhere and everything at Disney. That’s why whether you’re a pooper-scooper, food clerk, or Mickey himself, every employee at Disney is referred to as a Cast Member.
Next, find out the 23 secrets Disney employees won’t tell you.
- The Los Angeles Times: “New Contract Gives Disney Workers Clean Underwear“
- Disney Parks Blog: “A Place Where Everyone is Welcome“
- International Business Times: “Disney Facial Hair Policy Changes: Beards and Goatees OK, Part of new ‘Disney Look’”
Originally Published: April 15, 2021