By Jason Garcia The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, Fla. — After nearly 60 years, Mickey Mouse has decided to let his workers put their razors away.
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.
That’s not to say Santa Claus can suddenly start working in the Magic Kingdom. 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 one of two notable changes Disney is making to “The Disney Look” — the clean-cut appearance that Walt Disney himself demanded of employees from the day Disneyland, opened in 1955.
The other change: Casual Fridays. But only for employees who work in non-costumed jobs and who don’t interact with theme-park visitors.
Disney said it relented on beards in response to requests from its employees, or “cast members.”
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 allowed female workers to forego panty hose when wearing skirts — a rule that had been particularly uncomfortable for women working outside on steamy summer days in Central Florida.