These Very Strict And Very Secret Rules For Disney Employees Aren’t So Secret Anymore
Disney Land and Disney World truly are some of the happiest places on Earth. Whether you’re two or 99 years old, how can you not get swept up in all the magic? Yeah, it’s pretty expensive, and no one likes paying 42 dollars for a turkey leg, but the joy you experience makes it worth it. The atmosphere, the rides, the fireworks, the music, the characters roaming around ready to engage with you and the parades… no wonder it’s where star football players want to go after winning the Super Bowl.
Of course, what makes these parks so great isn’t real magic. It’s hard work from countless employees offering up this great experience day in and day out decade after decade. Their methods are pretty secretive, but those secrets have leaked. If you’re curious what working at a Disney Park might be like, here are some of the strict, crazy rules employees have to follow.
The Disney parks are all humongous and can be rather overwhelming, even if you’ve been there a dozen times before.
If you have trouble reading maps, you can always ask an employee where the nearest bathroom or attraction is.
But if you ask a cast member for directions, look at how they point. It’s usually a gesture with the whole hand, or with two fingers. They never point with one finger, because in some cultures it’s considered offensive.
As you’d imagine, working for Disney isn’t like working for any other job. First of all, they’re an unimaginably giant corporation.
They got that way by selling folks on magic. And they try to do that in person as well as on the big screen.
So when you work for Disney, you’re not an employee. You’re a cast member. From the characters, to the ride operators, to the janitors… they’re all cast members. And they’re expected to stay in character at all times.
Stay In Character
From the moment you don the costume to the moment you take it off, you are expected to play the part.
Snow White, Peter Pan, or whomever you’re playing wouldn’t know about the latest iPhone or the Harry Potter park just across Orlando, so you are forbidden from mentioning them.
This also pertains to the employees at gift shops and everywhere else. Disney World and Disneyland really are a world and land unto themselves.
These rules seem strict, but that’s nothing. Some characters have it much worse than others.
If you’re in a full-body costume where your own face isn’t visible, such as Mickey, Donald Duck or the Beast, you’re not allowed to speak at all while in costume.
Having to act the part for hours on end all without saying a word, sounds rough, but a child hearing a muffled, non-mousey voice coming from a perpetually smiling Minnie would ruin the illusion, so it’s necessary.
Part of staying in character means not using any social media while on the job.
That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? After all, we can all stay off Instagram and Facebook at work… at least while our supervisors aren’t looking.
But this rule extends to home as well. You can’t take pictures backstage at Disney. It would ruin the magic, after all. So if you work there, it’s best to just leave your phone off while on the clock.
Must Be This Tall
Did you ever think it wasn’t fair how you have to be 44 inches tall to ride Space Mountain? Then you’re gonna really hate this height requirement.
You have to be a certain height to portray certain Disney roles. Most notably, anyone aspiring to play any Disney princess must be between 5’4″ and 5’8″.
But don’t worry. If you’re shorter, between 4’11” and 5’2″, you can play other characters, including Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Wendy from Peter Pan. Space Mountain’s height rule is set in (space) stone, though.
Body Art Limits
Disney has strict rules not just for how employees dress, but also what they do with their bodies.
If you have visible tattoos, tongue piercings or ear gauges, you will have to seek employment elsewhere, because they are simply not allowed.
Hopefully Disney comes out with a new line of punk rock princesses so people with these on their bodies can still work here. Until then…do your best to cover them all up and hope they don’t notice.
First Name Basis
Walt Disney only liked to be called “Walt.” He wasn’t the biggest fan of last names, and that taste is reflected in this strange rule.
You only see first names on the employee tags, because employees are only to be referred to by their first names.
What happens if two cast members who play a Disney character happen to have the same name? Then one of them gets to go by a new name to avoid confusion.
One reason that Disney parks seem to have such a magical, otherworldly feel is because of how clean they are.
When was the last time you were there and noticed garbage on the ground? Has that ever happened?
There’s a reason the theme parks always look so clean. Everyone working there is told to pick up trash if they see it on the ground. So no matter what your job description is, you’re expected to pick up garbage as well.
Scoop It Up
It’s not enough that cast members (not “employees.” This is a stage, remember?) have to pick up trash.
There’s also a specific way they’re told to dispose of it. When a cast member does see trash on the ground, they can’t bend over.
Instead, they have to pick it up in a scooping method. It’s known as the “swoop and scoop.” It’s supposed to happen all in one graceful, fluid motion. It takes some getting used to, especially when you’re in costume.
By now, you may be starting to pick up on the idea that if you work for Disney, it becomes your life.
You lose a bit of autonomy, since you can’t make any rash stylistic choices without risking your job. This includes your hair. Here are some of the rules.
Male and female cast members are not allowed to shave their eyebrows. Men’s hair cannot extend over their ears or shirt collars. Women’s hair has to be neatly brushed. Braids are allowed, but not beads.
So what are the rules and restrictions on jewelry? Presumably you can’t show up looking like you just went on a nabbing spree from Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders, right?
Women are allowed to wear one ring on each hand and only one earring in each ear. For men, the ring rule is the same.
However, for men, earrings aren’t allowed at all. You can have other piercings, but you have to remove them while at work. Gauges are prohibited altogether.
You’ll be relieved to know that if you wear glasses, that is permitted. Isn’t that generous of Disney (sarcasm alert)?
So no, you won’t be forced to wear contacts. But they (of course) have some pretty strict rules about your glasses.
Cast members who wear glasses can’t wear frames that display logos or brands. Also, the color and the frame must be conventional. So if you have stylish glasses, you’d better get yourself a bland pair for work.
We’ve seen the rules on regular glasses, but what about sunglasses? California and Florida can get pretty sunny, after all.
The Disney career site says that dark glasses may “be a block to interpersonal communication with guests.”
Cast Members aren’t banned from wearing sunglasses altogether, but there are some regulations. The glasses cannot be so dark that guests can’t see your eyes through them. So, mirrored shades are a no-no, and if you’re speaking to a guest, you must remove sunglasses altogether.
Since the entire park is considered a “stage,” cast members are not allowed to eat “onstage.”
That means no snacks or meals are allowed in the park areas while on they are on the job. Cast members eat in a separate employee cafeteria.
However, they do get a pretty nice dining perk when they’re not on duty. They can get up to 40 percent off at many dining spots in the park and in Disney Springs at certain times of the year. That’s huge savings on those turkey legs!
Do you remember in school how they enforced that ridiculous rule that your shorts had to be longer than your fingertips when your arms laid by your sides?
Well, this rule is even more ridiculous. They can literally enforce it with a ruler, and will. It involves employees’ nails.
Women’s fingernails cannot exceed a quarter of an inch past the fingertip, and nail polish is not allowed. Meanwhile, men’s nails cannot go past their fingertip.
If you ever got a costumed character’s signature, it would look the same whether you got it yesterday or 10 years ago.
That’s because no matter who is in the costume, they all have to learn how to sign it the same way.
Every character’s signature is distinct and has a recognizable look. Regardless of what your own handwriting looks like, you’re going to have to go through “autograph training” so that you know how to write like Mickey Mouse.
While being stuck inside a full body costume all day seems terrible, it does come with its perks.
For example, your physical appearance won’t be so heavily scrutinized. And if you’re a guy, you can have whatever facial hair you want. If you’re unmasked, that’s not the case.
All facial hair on cast members has to be fully grown in and neatly trimmed. They cannot shape their beards, and their mustache cannot extend over the lip or further than the corners of their mouth.
They Know Everything
It’s a sign of maturity and intelligence to admit when you don’t know something. That’s how you learn new things.
However, a cast member is never allowed to say “I don’t know,” even if doing so would set a good example for the children.
If a guest asks a question that an employee doesn’t know the answer to, they have to pick up a telephone and call an operator to find out. Ignorance is bliss, but it’s also prohibited here.
With lots of little kids and animals running around in the park, there’s bound to be some unpleasant bodily fluid related incidents every now and then.
In these circumstances, Disney has a special way to identify them without using language that would disrupt the magic and family friendly environment.
Employees use “Code V” to signify a throw-up incident and “Code P” or “Code U” for urine. If a parade horse poops in the park, that’s a “Code H.” Lovely euphemisms, right?