| After nearly 60 years, Disney to let theme-park workers grow beards |
The Walt Disney Co. announced Monday that it would let employees at its two U.S. theme-park resorts — including its more than 60,000 workers at Walt Disney World — grow beards or goatees. The new policy, which takes effect Feb. 3, eliminates a facial-hair ban that has for decades been a source of grumbling among some of the company's male theme-park workers.
Disney's new policy restricts any facial hair to no more than a quarter of an inch in length. And the company says any chin whiskers "must create an overall neat, polished and professional look" and must be fully grown in and well-groomed.
It is a notable change Disney is making to "The Disney Look" — the clean-cut, all-American appearance that Disney has demanded of its theme-park employees from the day its original theme park, Disneyland, opened in 1955. The rigid code was instituted by Walt Disney himself, who wanted to distinguish his theme park from the sleazy carnivals of the time.
Disney said it finally relented on beards in response to requests from its cast members. "Disney Look guides are periodically reviewed, given the unique environment of our theme parks and resorts," Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said. "While we're 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 began inching back from its ban on facial hair in 2000, when it finally decided to allow mustaches.
Disney doesn't tinker with its look lightly: Changes are typically made only after the company has studied similar guidelines at other theme parks and Fortune 500 companies. The last major change occurred two years ago, when the company finally allowed female workers to forego wearing panty hose when wearing skirts — a rule that had been particularly uncomfortable for women working outside on steamy summer days in Central Florida.
by Jason Garcia