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Disney changes dress code to allow employees to grow beards

Starting Feb. 3, employees can show up at work with a beard or goatee, as long as it is shorter than a quarter of an inch. But tattoos and body piercings are still forbidden.

January 24, 2012|By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
  • Anne Warren as Snow White and Stuart Ambrose as the Prince in a scene from "Snow White" at Disneyland's Fantasyland Theater.
Anne Warren as Snow White and Stuart Ambrose as the Prince in a scene from… (Christine Cotter, Los Angeles…)

First, they could grow a mustache, just like Walt Disney. Now, they can grow a little more facial hair but not quite enough to be like most of the Seven Dwarfs.

Disneyland announced that it's loosened up its legendary dress code — known as the Disney Look — to allow employees to grow more facial hair. But the rules still forbid visible tattoos, body piercings (other than the ears for women), "extreme" hairstyles or colors. (Shaved heads are OK for men, but a no-go for women.)

Beginning Feb. 3, employees can show up to work with a beard or a goatee without worry, as long as it is shorter than a quarter of an inch. Soul patches are still not allowed.

"Disney Look guidelines are periodically reviewed in relation to industry standards, as well as the unique environment of our theme parks and resorts," Betsy Sanchez, a Disneyland Resorts spokeswoman, said in a statement. "While we are careful to maintain our heritage and the integrity of our brand, a recent review of our guidelines led to a decision that an update was appropriate at this time."

The company has enforced rules that have earned it a reputation as having one of the strictest dress codes in the corporate world. And the dress code has become part of the Disney corporate lore. Until 2010, women were required to wear pantyhose with skirts and couldn't wear sleeveless tops. Even now, straps have to be at least 3 inches wide.

A clean-cut image is something customers have come to expect from Disney, said David Koenig, author of "Mouse Tales" and a chronicler of Disney culture. Everyone from the guy in the Mickey Mouse costume to the woman in the ticket booth are all part of a grand production (indeed, Disney employees are called cast members).

"They are casting characters, rather than hiring employees," Koenig said. "If the person driving the omnibus looks like a punk rocker, it doesn't coincide with the show they are trying to put on."

But Disney's undergoing an evolution to stay with the times. What was clean cut in the 1950s, Koenig said, isn't quite the same today.

"They want to stay tradition-based, and they also want to be current," Koenig said. "They don't want it to become a museum of what entertainment used to be like."

rick.rojas@latimes.com

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