Monday, April 30, 2012

Disneyland - Fantasyland Break Area - Costume Changes and the Disney Look

Through a pathway among the bushes at the back side of Storybookland was the entrance to a small covered break area.
It had old-school vending machines, including one that had Eskimo Pies and chocolate ice cream bars.
I loved those!
Orange picnic tables were available for taking a few minutes' rest from being on one's feet.
Chief among this break area's positives was the fairly constant flow of female cast members clad in classic Fantasyland style.
Blue skirt, knee-high white stockings, cute shoes and a neat white blouse with colorful trim and short sleeves, sometimes accentuated by a matching headband or bow.
We were mostly college-age folks, clean-cut and with cheerful dispositions.
Come on, it was the old Disney.
Way before political correctness.
Back when costume policies and grooming standards were still strongly supported and enforced. No facial hair for men.
No wild hair styles or excessive make-up or piercings for either sex.
It was, as the Disney University taught us, the "Disney Look."
Why the "Disney Look" in 2012 must now permit facial hair after 56 years is not an issue for my pay grade.
Why the Park long ago decided to allow its cast members to wear their costumes home instead of turning them in to Wardrobe at the end of the shift is beyond me.
Moreover, who designs the modern costumes?
If you are out there, hear my plea - "Do something for the poor folks in Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and just about EVERYWHERE over at California Adventure!"
I am sorry, but no one can really pull off the strange uni-sex olive pants, blousy shirt and frumpy hat that Fantasylanders must don today.
Think "poochy."
And this is true for folks who may be thin as a rail!
The entire kingdom of Fantasyland looks "poochy!"
Oh, Peter!
It's true, Wendy!
And what is with the hats?
It's as if "Newsies" collided with Lampwick after a particularly hard night of drinking at Pleasure Island.
Not a skirt or primary color to be found north of the drawbridge these days, I'm afraid.
Then there's poor, poor Tomorrowland.
Never a region to top the list of "best costume" award winners, this area is absolutely languishing in the modern era.
The flumpy silver jackets.
The 21st Century shirts from a futuristic bowling alley or full-service gas station.
Hey, it isn't like they aren't trying.
Here is an article about modern Disneyland costuming, to show that it is quite a process to outfit thousands of cast members.
No doubt, one or two stinker costumes are going to rear their ugly heads within such a wide and varied mix.
Anyhow, we really should applaud the fact that the Disneyland show continues.
There are pirates and Haunted Mansion hosts and hostesses, Riverboat Captains, Big Thunder miners, canoe explorers and even jungle skippers that actually look the part.
Soon they'll be bearded and mustachioed.
Not so bad for Pirates, I guess, but I'll miss the clean-cut, All-American look that Disneyland cast members once sported.
I know, I know, "But Walt had a mustache!"
Okay, you start your own animation and entertainment empire, design, build and launch an utterly new type of theme park against all odds and amass armfuls of Academy Awards, all while keeping the whole enterprise moving and afloat somehow - then you can wear any mustache you want.
Oh, and Walt could pull it off. Like Clark Gable or Caesar Romero or Douglas Fairbanks.
I am sure things will work out.
Not every change is the equivalent of "New Coke" or the Edsel or doubling the price of Netflix.
Look, most of the dwarves have beards.
So do Jafar, Stromboli, the Queen's Hunstman, Merlin, King Triton, Jack Sparrow, Captain Hector Barbossa and others.
Mustaches abound as well: Captain Hook, Mr. Darling, Gepetto, Mr. Potato Head (okay, he's Pixar), etc.
Of course, back in the 1980s, things were a bit different.
Let us close with a quote from one of the Three Little Pigs:
"Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!"

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Tim Kulinski said...

Mike, nice post, I remember that old break room, got to hangout there when I worked parade guest control.

As for the costumes, I laugh every time I see a cast member outside the park walking around, hell I remember the days when security would stop you at Harbor House even when you were going to Partners Credit Union.

Did you ever get to go up stairs of wardrobe department? I had to have special pants made for me for Thunder. I used to race bicycles and my thighs were rather large. The pants would be too tight in the thighs. If I went with larger pants, they would look too big and would be falling down. So one day the costume Sup sent me upstairs to have the older women up there make me some special pants.

There were about a dozen or so older women and they were all doing custom or alterations on costumes. It was pretty cool to have a special costume that was tailor made just for me.

Oh I am sure those women are all gone now, but those were the days.

Roger Colton said...

Within this vale

Of toil and sin

Your head grows bald

But not your chin!


Jonathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan said...

I still can't wrap my head around Cast Members being allowed out of the park in public, wearing their costumes. Does this include the more unique costumes or only the more generic looking ones? For example, can someone in a Haunted Mansion costume waltz out to their car and swing by the grocery store on the way home in full costume? If so that is just wrong!

The whole facial hair thing I'm undecided on. I'll have to see it for myself to determine if it's distracting to the Disneyland experience. How will they maintain the standards of beards and mustaches, i.e. are we going to see ZZ Top beards, soul patches, strangely sculpted side burns or the current trend, scruffy looking 1-2 day beard growth?

TokyoMagic! said...

Sorry to go off the topic of this post, but I had a Jungle Cruise-related question and couldn't find a way to email you in your profile!

I was just wondering if you would be able to tell me exactly when the two toucans were added at the very beginning of the Jungle Cruise. I remember there were three of them prior to the addition of the Indiana Jones attraction in 1995, but I thought they all disappeared at that time. I was surprised recently to discover two of them now sitting on branches to the left, just after the boats enter the jungle.

I've asked some cast members about this, but they say they either don't know because they haven't worked there that long, or that the toucans have "always been there." I was wondering if they could have been added at the time that the piranhas were added and other changes were made to the attraction a few years ago, and maybe I just never noticed them? Or are they a more recent addition? I'm hoping you can help me out! Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

As a former (90-97) and now current (2010- ) cast member, I remember having a locker in the upstairs locker rooms. Today, there are no longer lockers available to anyone, unless you count the temporary lockers as such. The old costume issue windows are now entirely for character costume issue (what?!) and now you're able to get your own costume via the self-serve costume checkout. In fact, you can get 3 sets at a time to take home with you (and, yes, you can wear one set to the grocery store at the end of your shift if you so desire). The new cast members have no idea and, for me, I find it takes away some of the magic when I see a parking lot, custodial or other cast member walking to the bus station in their costumes. But, because of the expansion, there's no room for all of the cast members to keep their costumes inhouse. And, remember that 15 minute walk time from the area? Now, it's a 20 minute, and we have to clock out.

As for the facial hair, I've heard it's for those people whose religious beliefs require them to wear facial hair, but I'm not entirely sure that this is the reason. It makes sense, though. I still believe clean-shaven is the proper way to be at the Park. It's the Disney look after all. Or, it used to be.

All in the name of progress, I guess.

... But It Wasn't Always That Way! said...

Thank you for saying this and making me laugh at the same time. I wish I could have personally seen (or remember) these amazing costumes formerly worn in the park. Today, the accessories Cast Members are wearing with these frumpy costumes are what truly bother me. The modern sunglasses and watches make the outfits much worse and often remind me of a regular park visitor. If Disney needs to be cheap about costuming they should, of ALL companies, realize accessories make the outfit complete. One day...

Anonymous said...

Mike where have you gone?