Home » 6 Super Strange Rules for Disney Cast Members

    6 Super Strange Rules for Disney Cast Members

    Working at a theme park is a dream of many theme park tourists. That’s especially true of The Walt Disney Company’s parks, which earn the nickname of the Happiest Place on Earth every day. Still, those idle daydreams you have about walking away from your current job to work at Disneyland have some flaws.

    You may not realize it, but Disney has some of the most restrictive and seemingly arbitrary rules of any corporation in the world. They choose policies based on how the rules will help park visitors. They assume that cast members will accommodate and adapt. Here are six things you can’t do or must do differently as a Disney employee.

    No tattoos!

    Image: DisneyOkay, this rule has been blown out of proportion over the years. The Seattle grunge moment of the 1990s had a profound effect on society, and Disney wasn’t immune to it. While the company prefers that employees not have tattoos, it’s no longer a deal breaker.

    The catch is that the tattoos cannot be visible. If you have an arm sleeve tattoo, you’re going to have to hide it, no matter how badass you think it looks. Disney qualifies the rule under a section it calls Body Alteration or Modification. The stipulation is that tattoos, unconventional body piercings (i.e. anything other than the ears), and “disfiguring skin implants” must remain covered at all times.

    Generally, a white long-sleeved shirt or the like is good enough to hide arm tattoos. Long pants offer similar coverage for leg tattoos, which are less popular anyway. Most importantly, accessories that work with piercings are not allowed at Disney theme parks. Joe Rohde apparently gets away with this since all the creepy accessories are in his drooping earlobe piercing.

    You can’t go smokeless

    Plenty of terms exist for the choice not to wear underwear. Going commando is the most popular one. Whether you call it that, going smokeless, freeballing or whatever, you can’t do it when you’re on the clock at Disney. The company’s employee agreement states:

    “Cast members are required to wear appropriate undergarments at all times.”

    But that’s not all! The color of your underwear can also cause problems. Disney also dictates that, “patterned or colored undergarments that are visible when worn under light-colored costumes or business attire are not permitted.” As a general rule, Disney doesn’t ever want your underwear to be visible. It distracts guests away from the thematic costumes that everyone wears.

    Disney cast members can’t point

    This is one of my favorite rules. It sounds demanding and petty on the surface level. In practice, it’s a wonderful demonstration of customer service. Disney feels that park guests don’t always respond well to one-finger gestures. No, I don’t mean anything obscene here. Many visitors, particularly children, struggle to see and respond to a single finger. Should a cast member point, it wouldn’t help enough. Two finger-movements provide much greater clarity.

    That’s the psychology of the practice. The customer service aspect is more interesting. In some cultures, gesturing with a single finger is akin to gesturing with your middle finger in the United States. Any type of pointing angers people from many countries. Absolutely THE last thing Disney wants to do is upset guests from foreign lands. So, they’ve banned single finger gestures as a bit of diplomatic courtesy.

    You must know!

    Disney expects a certain level of omniscience from its cast members. At least, Disney expects their employees to be able to fake knowledge. Cast members aren’t allowed to respond, “I don’t know” to any question. It’s a bad display of customer service that reduces guest morale.

    Instead, Disney spends more money on employee training than virtually any other company in the industry. Cast members are expected to know lots of questions. These can range from “Where’s the closest bathroom?” to “What time does the parade begin?” to “What’s the fastest way to get to Adventureland from here?”

    Even after exhaustive training and years of experience on the job, cast members still can’t know absolutely everything about the parks, though. Rather than admit this lack of knowledge by saying the dreaded three words, Disney expects its employees to use different terms such as “Let me research the matter.” Then, the cast member calls their superior or someone else above them in the company to find out the proper answer. It’s a great way to guarantee that a customer always receives a satisfactory answer to a question.

    Antisocial media

    What Disney expects of its cast members and how they actually behave is a matter of some discussion. The rule at Disney theme parks is that the employees aren’t allowed to talk about their job. In fact, a non-disclosure agreement prevents some of them from talking about their job even after they’ve quit and started working elsewhere.

    These strict rules also apply to social media. While not everyone honors them, Disney asks that its workers maintain a sense of mystery. They shouldn’t tell others what they do. The company requests a veil of secrecy for job duties. That’s why stories exist of family members not finding out for years after the fact that their loved one was once Cinderella, Minnie Mouse, or Grumpy. It’s also why so many of the secrets of the Disney work day remained a secret for so long.

    Disney asks a lot of its cast members, but the corporation is also fantastic at picking the best new workers. The overwhelming majority of them can keep a secret. In fact, I recently interviewed more than 20 former employees. Six of them flat out refused to solve any existing park mysteries, preferring to honor the company’s request. Two of them hadn’t even worked at a Disney theme park since the early 1990s, yet they still held true to the company’s vision.

    First name basis

    Walt Disney used to wear a name tag when he traversed the Happiest Place on Earth. The button simply said “Walt.” That’s by design. A Disney theme park is supposed to be a welcoming environment, the ultimate safe space where parents can bring their children. Disneyland should blanket its guests in a warm feeling of acceptance.

    Calling someone Mister, Miss, or Missus wouldn’t have that effect. Instead, it would create a wall between cast members and theme park tourists. Walt Disney appreciated this form of communication better than anyone else. He set the standard in putting his own name on the nametag rather than a more ostentatious title such as Founder, Owner, or President.

    Every Disney employee who has walked through the gates of a Disney theme park wears a name tag. And that ID always shows their first name rather than their full name or job title. Instead, the name tag states the person’s hometown, offering a potential topic of conversation between strangers. It’s a form of intimacy that underscores the friendly neighborhood vibe of a Disney theme park.