Disney’s Costumes Inadequate for Cold Weather?

As I’m falling asleep last night this story comes on the local ABC channel news. Apparently, some Disney cast members are complaining to the media that the costumes they’re issued aren’t warm enough for some of the low temperatures Central Florida has experienced this winter.

To understand the issue you have to remember that most themed costumes are very thin to deal with the summer heat. Only approved costume pieces can be visible while you’re working. You also have to understand that Disney Cast Members are responsible for getting their costumes before checking in at their work location. But that might be 20-30 minutes of walk and change time depending on where you work. As a cast member you’re allowed to check out multiple days worth of costumes. You could check out cold weather wear for a Tuesday shift even if you’re not working Wednesday and Thursday. So you don’t return that jacket until Friday or later. That means that piece is effectively out of circulation for those who need it on other cold nights.

This understandably can limit what the costuming department has available to check out. If the costuming department tells you they’re out of the piece you need in your size, you’re pretty much stuck with what they give you. A light jacket is better than no jacket at all. It’s a numbers game that Disney could solve any number of ways (more costume pieces, changing the way costumes are issued, special cold weather rules for costume changes, better training for local managers to be aware of cast members who need weather upgrades, etc). Something to add to the negotiations next time the union contract is negotiated.   

So are cast members getting stuck without proper costumes for cold weather. Sure. I have no reason to doubt the facts of this story. But it must have been a really slow news night for WFTV to even think about covering it (with a live remote truck, no less). All I can figure out is that WFTV has some sort of anti-Disney story quota so they don’t come off as a corporate mouth piece. Where were the quotes from cast members of other local theme parks talking about their costuming problems. (read)

10 thoughts on “Disney’s Costumes Inadequate for Cold Weather?”

  1. When I worked there during very cold days any CM who was worth their salt and could plan ahead would be wearing 2-3 layers of street clothes under their costume and jacket, plus gloves, a winter hat, and holding heat packets, if possible. Sure, I know Disney has a turnover problem and there’s lots of CMs who haven’t got the experience to know to do this, but you learn pretty fast. I haven’t got much sympathy, I’m sorry to say.

  2. Bollocks!

    Having been in a great number of Mascot costumes, in everything from 120 in Vegas to 15 below in Chicago? This story is just rubbish put forward by a news station.

    Mascot costumes tend to be more than a little over-sized. If you can put a suit of thermals on if you know it is going to be cold? That’s not a Disney problem, that’s natural selection.

  3. This reminds me of when I worked at Disneyland, selling ice cream, popcorn, and balloons. I was on the first popcorn machine you see on Main Street, right inside the entrance, wearing black polyester pants, a striped long-sleeved shirt with high collar, and a bowtie. It was over 100 one day, and I’m standing in the heat of the popcorn machine, having to continually put my face near the popper while scooping, and I remember getting dizzy from the heat. When a Lead came by I asked him if I could have a cup of water and loosen my shirt collar. His first response was to say “No” but then he said, “I’ll ask about it.” An hour later he came back with a cup of water and said that the supervisor said it was okay to take off my bowtie and unbutton the top button only. But just this once!

  4. When I worked at WDW (over 10 years ago) I was in Mexico and because most of the pavilion is indoors there is no approved outside coat to wear over the costume, other than a very scratchy and flimsy poncho that does not cover the arms.
    It was a very cold winter and while we were allowed to wear turtlenecks under the blouse, I remember we had to have special permission to wear the outside coats and hats that are usually given to Friendship boat drivers! It was SO cold to work outside (there is only one merch site outside the pavilion) that we also were allowed a small heater to have in there – but I do remember also that it took a few days to sort out the wardrobe issues and I have photos of those days when I and my fellow cast members would FREEZE while working outside.
    I have always wondered WHY there wasn’t more provision for cold weather with our costume and it would appear that it is still an issue today.

  5. I can see where for some costumes rugging up in more layers would be relatively easy to do (like plushy chracters, or some of the male ‘face’ characters). However there are others where it is just not possible. Jasmine shows her midriff…no way to wear thermals under THAT costume. Aurora wears an off the shoulder dress…again, no thermals for her. Cinderella, lots of neck and her arms…none for her either. I’d feel for any guy who had to be Hercules or Tarzan in the winter!

  6. All the princesses have cold-weather costume pieces, including Jasmine. If it’s REALLY cold they will switch to indoor locations, just like they do when it’s raining.

  7. Funny to see how the situation is different here in Paris.
    the same difficulty happen during summer with costumes for warm weather…

  8. I worked at the Magic Kingdom parking lot for awhile and experienced my share of cold days as well. Standing on the back of one of the trams going at 14 mph when it was 25 degrees out was not pleasant (that makes the wind chill around 13, assuming that the wind wasn’t blowing).

    We had these big fluffy orange coats which were more for show then warmth. Fortunately, management allowed us to where are street jackets underneath the orange coats. Some people went as far as to also put their rain gear on so that the wind wouldn’t pierce straight through to the skin.

    However, having said all that, it must be a pretty slow news day to actually cover this kind of story!

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