Disney will relax its restrictions on theme park employees’ appearances to include some visible tattoos, “gender-inclusive” hairstyles and other features, the company announced Tuesday, as part of a broader push toward inclusion and diversity at the company’s decades-old theme parks.
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products chairman Josh D’Amaro said in a blog post Tuesday the company will now offer “greater flexibility” when it comes “gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices” while employees are working, along with “appropriate visible tattoos.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, employees—referred to at Disney as “cast members”—will be allowed to have tattoos below the neck that are “limited in size,” and can now have two small earrings in one ear instead of just one.
The changes apply to cast members at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.
The changes are part of the “Disney Look,” a comprehensive set of policies for employees’ appearance with detailed instructions on what they can and cannot wear—headbands are permitted only if they are not wider than two inches, for instance, and fingernails must be no longer than one-fourth of an inch past the fingertip.
Disney previously announced other changes to the Disney Look in Oct. 2019, allowing beards and goatees to be up to one inch long and allowing cast members to wear a single bracelet or necklace.
The new appearance guidelines are part of an initiative to have a “more diverse and inclusive Disney Parks, Experiences and Products,” D’Amaro said, and the company is adding “Inclusion” as one of the “keys” the company uses to guide employees’ approach to customer service.
“We’re updating [the appearance policies] to not only remain relevant in today’s workplace, but also enable our cast members to better express their cultures and individuality at work,” D’Amaro wrote on the Disney Parks Blog Tuesday. “Moving forward, we believe our cast…can provide the best of Disney’s legendary guest service when they have more options for personal expression.”
The appearance policy changes are one in a series of moves Disney has made in the past few months to make its classic theme parks—Walt Disney World is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, while Disneyland marked its 75th last year—more diverse and culturally sensitive. Disney announced in June it was replacing its popular Splash Mountain attraction with a new Princess and the Frog-themed ride, getting rid of the current theming to Song of the South, a film set in the Reconstruction-era South that has been pulled out of circulation for its offensive depiction of race. The company then announced in January it was overhauling its Jungle Cruise attraction to remove “negative depictions of native people,” and Walt Disney World took out one of the more controversial audio-animatronics from the attraction last week. D’Amaro said Tuesday the company is also adding more diverse companies to its supply chain, along with other initiatives like a mentorship program and partnering with diverse creators on merchandise.
The change to cast members’ appearance policies comes as many present and former Disney theme park employees have faced challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Disney laid off 32,000 employees in its U.S. theme park division as a result of closures amid the pandemic and thousands of others were furloughed—though many of those furloughed cast members are now returning to work as Disneyland reopens to the public on April 30.