If you attended grade school in the latter half of the 20th century, dress codes were something you knew just as well as your ABCs: A quick ruler check, and you'd know if your outfit of choice was within the guidelines. Ultimately deemed sexist, the rules aren't as clear cut as they used to be, often leaving it up to a bit more interpretation — and it's that ambiguity that's been causing a stir at Disney parks.
There's nothing like letting loose on vacation, but how little can you wear before Mickey Mouse makes you cover up? There's a growing trend on social media of getting dress coded at Disney Parks, and many on TikTok have used the interaction as a badge of honor, bragging about the free swag they received in return for covering up attire deemed "skimpy" or "inappropriate" by Disney employees.
Disney's domestic theme parks, Walt Disney World and Disneyland, maintain a set of guidelines for their dress codes. Those guidelines state that, "proper attire, including shoes and shirts, must be worn at all times."
"The parks are a casual, family-friendly environment," it continues, further asking guests to implore "discretion and common sense" when choosing attire for their park visit.
Disney's list of items deemed inappropriate is lengthy, including an extensive ruling on what novelty costumes can be worn in the park. The guidelines go on to state: "Disney reserves the right to deny admission to or remove any person wearing attire that is considered inappropriate or attire that could detract from the experience of other guests."
Listed attire considered inappropriate include clothing with obscene language, excessively torn clothing and clothing that excessively exposes portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment. Yahoo Life reached out to Walt Disney World for a more detailed explanation of their dress code guidelines but did not receive a response.
But how does Disney's dress code policy compare to other theme parks? Orlando's other major theme park resort, Universal, maintains its own dress code guidelines, although even less specific than those at Walt Disney World. In addition to costume guidelines, Universal prohibits, "clothing likely to create a danger, incite a disturbance or displaying offensive language or content." Yahoo Life reached out to Universal Orlando for further details on their dress code guidelines and was referred back to the resort's website.
The grey areas for these and many other theme parks seem to exist because of the very vague language used to describe dress code guidelines. Ultimately, this leaves the question of what is appropriate attire for a day in the parks up to both the guest's interpretation as well as the overworked employee tasked with enforcing it.
Amanda Dimeo, a 27 year old from Philadelphia, Pa., unknowingly started a TikTok trend when she was reprimanded for her outfit by a Walt Disney World employee in May 2021. "When I arrived at Magic Kingdom, I was stopped at the security gates and was told by a cast member that my shirt was inappropriate and showed too much skin," Dimeo tells Yahoo Life.
The shirt in question? Dimeo describes it as showing a small portion of her "underboob." It's a shirt she says she had previously worn to Disney parks with no question.
"The cast member said I could get a complimentary shirt at the nearest gift shop to fix the 'issue,'" says Dimeo. "She handed me a slip of paper that stated I was able to get a free shirt with the price up to $50." Once she arrived at the gift shop, Dimeo wasn't interested in any of the shirts in the stated price range and a manager allowed her to choose a pink Spirit Jersey, a popular style of oversized long-sleeve shirt, priced at $75.
"The situation didn't make me feel that uncomfortable because I was happy I received a free item," Dimeo explains. "It was interesting to me, so I made a TikTok about my experience and it ended up going viral. Many people tried what I called my 'Disney underboob hack' to get free shirts for themselves."
The TikTok detailing Dimeo's experience gained over 31 million views on the social media platform, as well as over 35,000 comments, including fierce division of those both inspired and appalled by such tactics.
A year later, Dimeo's video has caught fire, inspiring a viral trend of others attempting to obtain free goodies from Disney parks using this hack. The #disneydresscode hashtag has amassed over one million views with many dubbing the experience as getting "Disney dress coded."
TikToker Toragrams experienced a similar encounter and was also given a voucher for a complimentary shirt. Ultimately, she agreed that the shirt in question, one using strings to hold the fabric together, may have violated the park guidelines. A TikToker claiming to be a former Disney Parks employee chimed in, offering their theory in the comments of a TikTok chronicling the incident: "The rule is that your top can't have just a string to hold it together."
But is Disney getting wise to this now viral way to get free Disney Parks merchandise?
Another TikToker, Nicole Delosreyes, was also dress coded at Disney, although she claims she wasn't intentionally trying to. In a video detailing the experience, she says she wasn't offered a voucher, but was instead told to purchase a shirt on her own or leave the property.
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