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Disneyland Banned Men With Long Hair Until The Late 1960s

Culture | August 25, 2019

A hippy at the Isle of Wight pop festival in 1970. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

When Disneyland opened in 1955, men with flowing locks of hair were not welcome. An unwritten rule was in place to keep them out of the park -- men with long hair were few and far between in the '50s, so at the time the prohibition wasn't too consequential. Walt couldn't have foreseen the coming generational war over hair, but by 1965 there were plenty of proto-hippies growing it out.

Disneyland, “The happiest place on earth,” and Walt Disney Studios gave birth to an unbelievably immense catalog of classic tales. From The Little Mermaid to The Lion King (new and old), no other company matches their varied library of all-time nostalgic stories. It’s crazy to think that Baby Boomers and Millennials alike know and cherish films from the same magical kingdom. What other organization can boast nearly 100 years of movie-making magic?

In keeping with their insanely lucrative foresight, Disney brought everyone’s classic childhood movies to life with Disneyland. As the tagline goes, it’s the happiest place on earth and perhaps the most profitable.

Tens of millions of people visit their parks across America every year, bringing untold joy to new generations year after year. However, most people don’t know about their hilarious “unwritten dress code” instituted right before the groovy era. Let’s just say that Tom Selleck and John Lennon may have required a trim before entering the park!

Long Hair, We Care

The Byrds in 1965. Jim McGuinn -- better known as Roger McGuinn -- is second from right, in sunglasses.

As the "happiest lace on Earth," Disneyland embraced the mid-'50s ideals of what was good and wholesome. It was all smiles and innocence -- and very short hair for men. Take a look at school pictures from the '50s and you'll see a lot of buzz-cuts, flat tops and even some pompadours -- but you wont see mullets or flowing locks. It was ok for Jesus, but in mainstream American society, long hair on men was eyed with suspicion. Beards were rare, and mustaches, like the one Walt Disney himself wore, were kept neat and tidy. Though there was a shaggy aesthetic gaining ground in the beatnik culture, it was not welcome at Disneyland.

The prohibition remained in effect for years, and became a sore spot as mop-topped Beatles sparked a change in American hair styles in the early '60s. One of the most famous cases of refused admittance involved Jim McGuinn, a young musician who was turned away for having a Beatles-esque coiffure in 1964. Jim became better known as Roger McGuinn, and his band, The Byrds, was one of the biggest American rock groups of the late '60s.

Come One Come All, Even Hippies!

Disneyland Stop Their Hair Regulations in the Early '70s. Source: (marketwatch.com)

Thankfully, by the time the '70s rolled around, Disneyland realized many of their grooming and clothing requirements were outdated. Therefore, they liberally relaxed the rules for patrons, allowing all sorts of hair styles.

There's a misconception that the change was a response to the “Yippie invasion” of August 6, 1970, which shut the park down for a day. The policy change had already happened -- in fact, that's how the Yippies got into the park in the first place. 

We Must-ache You to Leave

Despite his Own Proclivity for a Good Mustache, Walt Disney Did Not Approve of Them at his Park. Source: (d23.com)

Rejection of long-haired guests wasn't the only hair prohibition at Disneyland. Male employees, who obviously couldn't have long hair, were also forbidden from having facial hair. That's a bit weird considering Walt Disney himself was a mustache-wearer. But Walt wanted his park to stand out from the sometimes seedy world of amusement parks and carnivals -- and that meant making sure his employees didn't remind guests of carneys. Again, as the culture changed, Disney's insistence on clean-shavenness became increasingly out of step, but the rule actually remained in place until 2000.

Facing a labor shortage, Disney relented, and allowed men to wear well-tended mustaches. Then, in 2012, Disney again loosened its rules, permitting beards and goatees. But that doesn't mean the Grizzly Adams look is kosher -- the rules prohibit facial hair from being longer than 1/4 inch.

Come Correct or Don’t Come at all. Sincerely, Disneyland

Disneyland's sleeping beauty castle in 2019. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Long-haired men aren't the only guests who've been denied entry to Disneyland over the years. There are other prohibitions in place. An interesting one is the rule that if you are over the age of ten, costumes are out. That includes, as the dress code states, "Makeup that could be construed as part of a costume." The dress code also bans "clothing that accentuates or draws attention to private areas."

These awkwardly worded regulations would appear to be aimed at “Sexy Tinkerbells”, “Sexy Ariels,” and other potentially scantily clad, Disneyland inspired youths. (Also known as the music festival crowd.)

Cast Member Control

Celebrities Must Be Treated Like Any Other Patron, Even Matt Damon and His Scruffy Facial Hair Source: (disneyparks.disney.go.com)

The various Minnies and Mickeys conducting merriment and cheer across Disneyland are held to an even higher standard. If for whatever reason, you’d like the job of dressing as Goofy and spreading happiness to park guests, the checklist is rather lengthy.

• Your skin must be unmarred, ie, no tattoos.

• All personal effects such as jewelry, eyewear, etc. must be non-existent or conservative to the extreme.

• Nails and hair require “taming”

• All pointing of directions or otherwise is done with two fingers. That’s because single finger-pointing is considered rude in some cultures.

• “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer.

• Similar to Hollywood, cast members must stay in character, even when writing -- i.e., signing autographs.

• Asking celebrities for an autograph may result in termination.

Tags: 1960s Hair Styles | 1970s Hair Styles | Disneyland | Facial Hair | Long Hair | Roger McGuinn | The Byrds | Walt Disney

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Kellar Ellsworth

Writer

Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!