Monday, August 20, 2012

Disney's Park Dress Code "Police" Nab Santa

This is NOT the Santa asked to leave WDW

In June, Disney is reported to have made a man who looks A LOT like Santa Clause to tone down his Santa rhetoric and change his clothing.  Details on the events can be found here.  Give it a quick read, because the devil is in the details of this situation.

Here is a link to Disney's theme park dress code policy.  In part, it reads as follows.

attire that is not appropriate for the theme parks (and which may result in refusal of admittance) includes but is not limited to:
  • Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character
  • Masks (unless you are dressing up for a particular event)
  • Clothing with objectionable material, including obscene language or graphics
  • Excessively torn clothing
  • Clothing which, by nature, exposes excessive portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment
  • Objectionable tattoos
A Guest is allowed into the parks if her or his hair (or make-up, if applicable) has been made to resemble a Disney Princess or character (for example, after a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover) provided the Guest is not also wearing a costume or clothed to look like the character. 

Russ' Note: I hate how they had to work in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique into this policy.

I will of course grant the generic "Disney is a private company and can do whatever they want argument" that you hear so often when it comes to people getting thrown out of a Vegas casino for winning more than they "should."  However, this is pretty clearly not a violation of the Disney dress code.  As Mr. Tolbert points out, Disney does not own Santa Clause.  Further, the fact that they asked fake Santa to tell people that he was NOT the real Santa seems an awful like controlling  free speech.  To compensate Tolbert, Disney gives him a replacement shirt (he was wearing a Christmas related shirt not a Santa costume) and free guest passes for his trouble.

Still, from a public relations standpoint, this is a pretty much a fail for Disney.  Its one thing to shut down a teenager who looks a little too much like a Disney character, because they can fall back on the first bullet above.  It is quite another to not have your actions backed up by your own internal policies.   My main question is whether this was a overzealous cast member who just thought the whole thing was ridiculous, or was Tolbert watched and monitored over several days at the parks and the decision to shut him down made a higher level.

What do you think of Disney's decision? Let us know in the comments below or E-mail us at

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