Disney is revamping its inclusivity initiatives for cast members and guests, allowing employees to more freely express themselves through gender-inclusive costuming and hair styles.
A new initiative within Disney’s parks division means cast members won’t have to cover their tattoos and can style themselves in costumes that are gender inclusive.
On Tuesday, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products, revealed the update to the company’s dress and style code, as part of a wider effort to make its employees and guests feel even more welcome at its theme parks.
“Moving forward, we believe our cast, who are at the center of the magic that lives in all our experiences, can provide the best of Disney’s legendary guest service when they have more options for personal expression – creating richer, more personal and more engaging experiences with our guests.” D’Amaro wrote in a blog post on Disney’s website Tuesday.
One of the first things that every Disney cast member learns when joining the parks team is the “four keys” — safety, courtesy, show and efficiency. These “keys” are guidelines for employee etiquette and are aimed at providing a seamless guest experience. For example, if a young guest drops a bucket of popcorn on the sidewalk of Main Street, a cast member will quickly work to provide that guest with a new bucket, while another cast member cleans up the spill.
Last fall, after 65 years, Disney added a fifth key — inclusion.
“We want our guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in the stories, experiences and products they encounter in their interactions with Disney,” D’Amaro said. “And we want our cast members – and future cast members – to feel a sense of belonging at work.”
This means offering more inclusive products like costumes for people in wheelchairs and LGBTQ Mickey ears, as well as revamping attractions in the parks to feature more diversity.
Disney’s parks, experiences and consumer products division is expanding its merchandise collections to include more inclusive items like costumes for wheelchairs.
Disney has already begun to reimagine several attractions, including its Jungle Cruise ride, and is transitioning Splash Mountain into a new adventure ride featuring Princess Tiana and other characters from “The Princess and the Frog.”
Another key piece of that strategy is allowing cast members to better express their personality while working in the parks.
Disney has always had a strict policy for how its parks employees must dress and present themselves while in public. This included gender-specific rules for how men and women can wear their hair and style facial hair as well as restricting what types of jewelry could be worn and requiring that tattoos remain covered at all times.
Now, there will no longer be segmented rules for male and female workers. D’Amaro explained that all cast members will follow the same guidelines, which feature gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry and nail styles. Cast members will still need to abide by some of the previous rules, like keeping hair natural colors and making sure their name tag is never covered.
“The world is changing, and we will change with it,” he said.
Costuming, too, will be more gender inclusive. Cast members will no longer have to choose between a male and female look based on what part of the park they work in. They will now have a wider range of costume options. It will be more in line with how cast members in the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land are able to mix and match different clothing pieces to create their own personal look.
“Changes like these are strategic: we see in study after study that the next generation of Disney fans and guests rejects gender stereotypes and craves values alignment with brands,” said Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal, an organization that works toward LGBTQ workplace equality, in a statement. “Simply put, they want the companies they patronize to be as inclusive and forward-looking as they are. This is a great moment for people everywhere to see Disney – an iconic company – signal that everyone is welcome there.”
“With these changes, cast members can bring their full, authentic selves to their work,” she said. “More Disney guests will be able to see themselves reflected in the diversity of people across all levels of the company.”
Disneyland is slated to reopen on April 30 at limited capacity for California residents. Disney’s Orlando-based parks and parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai have reopened to the public, while Disneyland Paris has remained closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.