Nose rings are a no...and other ruminations on the restrictions of the Disney Look.
A friend recently asked me if she would be able to get a job at Walt Disney World with her new nose ring, to which the answer was an instant and resounding no. The other friends in our group, Orlando natives all, were shocked. We were standing in the middle of Epcot, and as I glanced around at the clean cut Cast Members manning every Food and Wine kiosk, I realized that the Disney look is something I’ve come to take for granted, and perhaps something not every visitor consciously notices.
When it comes to the Disney Look, the rules are strict and unwavering. Every Cast Member receives a Look Book as part of orientation. If you show up to your Traditions class in absolutely anything that doesn’t adhere to the guidelines, you’re sent straight home. A few examples of the things Cast Members are not permitted to have include:
- Eyeglasses or sunglasses with logos or bright colors
- Hair covering the ears or shirt collar for men
- Fingernails that extend past the tip of the finger for men, or more than a quarter of an inch past the fingertip for women
- Artificially dyed hair that does not look natural
- Shaving of the head or eyebrows for women
- Makeup in anything other than a neutral color
- Nail polish in anything other than a plain, neutral color
It wasn’t until 2012 that male Cast Members were allowed to have facial hair. Though facial hair is permitted within certain guidelines, it must be fully grown in. If a Cast Member decides he wants to grow a mustache, he must take vacation time to do so, which is exactly what many people did when the new rules were passed last year.
This brief overview of the Disney Look doesn’t even begin to cover all the rules that Cast Members have to adhere to. Anything beyond a single ear piercing for women is prohibited, as are spacers in any body piercing while you’re on stage. And don’t think you can hide an extra ear piercing with carefully styled hair, or keep a tongue spacer concealed by keeping your mouth shut. Rule breakers that we were, my friends and I tried whatever tricks we could think of. Eventually our piercings just grew back after managers helpfully reminded us to remove them before we went on stage every day.
As for tattoos, though you’ll never see them on a Cast Member, they’re often there. Ever notice someone with a long sleeve costume in summer, even though their coworkers are wearing a short sleeve option? Chances are good there’s a tattoo hiding under there. Summer heat and humidity is brutal down here, even to native Floridians. Most people don’t dress like that just to stay warm and cozy.
The other option available to Cast Members with tattoos is to pile on a whole lot of makeup and hope you don’t sweat it off. The local Wal Mart that College Program Cast Members can catch a bus to even has tattoo cover-up makeup on an end cap.
If, like my friends, you’re thinking that all this seems to be a bit much, you’re probably forgetting that every last detail of the Disney environment is carefully orchestrated to provide you with a world that’s set apart from reality. The outside world simply isn’t visible from within one of Walt Disney World parks. This is wholly intentional. The fantasy of Disney is painstakingly cultivated here.
Even guests are expected to maintain a certain level of respect for their fellow visitors. Show up in an obscene shirt and you’ll be asked to change or turn it inside out. You might get away with a skimpy bikini top at other Orlando parks, but Disney will oh-so-politely request you put your clothes back on. This is a family park, after all, and you’re making Mickey blush.