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8 Things Disney Parks Have Banned

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getty images

by Alvin Ward

Disneyland may be the Happiest Place on Earth, but don't think that means you can just waltz in and do whatever you want. In fact, Mickey Mouse's theme parks have banned quite a few things over the years. Here are just a few of the things on which the Mouse has dropped his hammer.

1. Long Hair

Until the late 1960s, men could either have flowing locks or enjoy Adventureland, but they definitely couldn't do both. According to Snopes, if a long-haired fellow tried to buy a ticket, a cast member would discreetly and politely inform the man that his hairdo didn't jive with the park's unwritten dress code before escorting him from the park.

2. Facial Hair

It's tough to find a picture of Walt Disney without a mustache, but for decades it was even tougher to find a Disney employee who had a 'stache of his own. Starting in 1957, workers at Disney parks were not allowed to have long hair, grow beards, or wear mustaches. (The underlying logic was that park patrons wouldn't want to buy a $9 soda from some filthy bearded hippie or mustachioed Snidely Whiplash type.)

In 2000, Disney was having trouble drumming up enough manpower to staff its parks, so it relaxed the facial hair ban. Employees were finally allowed to grow mustaches, provided they kept them trimmed and groomed. Beards didn't fare so well, though; they stayed on the forbidden list.

3. Blake Lively

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How could anyone not like the cute-as-a-button star of Gossip Girl? Disneyland apparently wasn't always amused with Lively's pre-fame antics. According to Lively, when she was six, she and her older brother used the old put-hairspray-on-a-friend's-readmission-hand-stamp-to-transfer-the-stamp-to-their-own-skin trick. It would have been the perfect crime, except security nabbed the Lively kids right as they went through the park's turnstiles and slapped the pair with a one-year ban.

4. Florida State Football Recruits

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In June 2007, four Florida State football recruits met up for a little bit of fun. Instead of engaging in any of the myriad nefarious acts a group of 18-year-old males are known to favor, the players decided to go to Disney World, which seemed like the very last place in the world they could get into any trouble. Wrong. Park officials approached the men, all of whom were African-American, while they hung out in Downtown Disney and ejected them from the park for violating its anti-loitering rules. Security also hit the players with a lifetime ban from the park in a move that many Disney critics claimed smacked of racial profiling.

5. Costumes

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You may want to dress up like Jack Sparrow for a day of riding Pirates of the Caribbean, but if you're older than nine, forget it. Disney bans any costumes and masks on anyone who's ten or older. Also listed on Disney's park dress code: "Makeup that could be construed as part of a costume." So go easy on the eye shadow—the fashion police might decide you're shooting for a 19th-century harlot look and give you the heave-ho.

Similarly, the dress code bans "clothing that accentuates or draws attention to private areas," a well meaning, if oddly phrased, choice. Here's hoping Disney starts handing out unisex burlap smocks at the park gates to avoid any potentially accentuated private areas. [Image courtesy of reader Christopher Schwarz.]

6. Gallows

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In early 2008, upstart English punk band Gallows was all set to open for Social Distortion at a gig at the House of Blues at Disneyland. The bill seemed like a good way to get exposure for a band that was starting to catch on stateside—or it did until Disney officials actually stopped to listen to Gallows' debut record, Orchestra of Wolves. Once Disney brass heard Gallows' tunes, they nixed the show due to the band's occasionally offensive lyrical content.

While it seems odd to get upset at a punk band for being abrasive, Disney's move wasn't unprecedented. Just a few months earlier, the company had banned the metal band Machine Head from performing at the House of Blues for similar reasons.

7. Kids

Kids banned by Disney? You bet. In January 2008, Disney announced that children under the age of 10 would no longer be allowed to dine at Victoria & Albert's, the ritziest restaurant at Disney World's Grand Floridian Spa and Resort. The move made news, but Disney officials claimed that the AAA five-diamond-rated restaurant didn't attract that many children in the first place. In addition to being pricey, Victoria & Albert's only offered a fixed-price menu with kid-unfriendly offerings like caviar, so the restaurant only catered to a handful of young diners each year.

8. Segways

GOB Bluth is going to be in quite a bind if he ever tries to ride his Segway into Disneyland. The company bans Segways from its parks, ostensibly because it's tough to balance safety issues with the potential for having a fleet of two-wheeled vehicles rolling around the grounds.

The trouble here, though, is that a lot of disabled people use Segways in lieu of wheelchairs. These folks were understandably peeved that they couldn't visit the parks using their preferred mode of transportation, and several of them filed lawsuits. So far it's been tough for the Segway riders to get Disney to budge; earlier this fall, a federal judge threw out a class action lawsuit brought against Disney by Segway devotees. The ruling left an opening for further legal action, though, so this court battle may not be over yet.

Readers have brought up two other things that might not be welcome in Disney parks: Nikita Khrushchev and bubble gum. Alvin has added those stories...

Nikita Khrushchev?

Disneyland as a battleground for the Cold War? Believe it or not, that's exactly what it became in 1959. That year, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev spent 11 days visiting the United States. He spent one day of the trip in Los Angeles, and the fierce orator wanted to see Disneyland. However, the LAPD and the rest of Khrushchev's security detail were worried about his safety during such a trip, so they nixed the idea.

Khrushchev accepted the news with characteristic poise, which is to say he exploded. He ranted, "And I say, I would very much like to go and see Disneyland. But then, we cannot guarantee your security, they say. Then what must I do? Commit suicide? What is it? Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken hold of the place that can destroy me?"

Gum?

Want to chomp on some gum while you're standing in line at a Disney park? You'll have to bring it with you from home. In an effort to keep chewed gum from being stuck all over the parks, none of the shops in any Disney theme park sells gum. Supposedly this innovation came from Walt Disney himself, who wanted to make sure that his guests could enjoy their visits without getting gum stuck to their shoes.

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The Popcorn Company That's Creating Jobs for Adults With Autism
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iStock

A New Jersey-based gourmet popcorn company is dedicating its profits to creating new employment “popportunities” for adults on the autism spectrum, A Plus reports.

Popcorn for the People, founded by Rutgers University professor Dr. Barbie Zimmerman-Bier and her husband, radiologist Dr. Steven Bier, is a nonprofit subsidiary of the couple's charitable organization Let’s Work For Good, which focuses on "creating meaningful and lasting employment for adults with autism and developmental disabilities." Recognizing the lack of skilled employment options for adults with developmental disabilities, the Biers decided to create jobs themselves through this popcorn venture, with all of the profits going to their charitable organization. According to the site, every tin of popcorn purchased "provides at least an hour of meaningful employment" to adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, who perform jobs like making popcorn, labeling products, and marketing.

The couple developed the idea for the business and the nonprofit in 2015 when their son, Sam, grew tired of his job at a grocery store. Sam, 27, is on the autism spectrum, and after six years of working as a “cart guy,” he decided he was ready to try something new. Employment opportunities were scarce, though. Jobs that provided enough resources for someone on the spectrum tended to consist of menial work, and more skilled positions involved a tough interview process.

“Some companies mean well, but they are limited in what they can offer,” Steven Bier told TAP Into East Brunswick in 2015.

Unemployment rates are especially high among adults with autism. Last year, Drexel University reported that only 14 percent of autistic adults who use state-funded disability services are employed in paid work positions. And while high-functioning autistic adults are often perfectly capable of working in technical careers, the actual process of getting hired can be challenging. People with autism tend to struggle with understanding nuance and social conventions, which makes the interviewing process particularly difficult.

Enter the Biers' popcorn business. What began in 2015 as the Pop-In Cafe (which still sells popcorn and deli items at its New Jersey location) now distributes flavored popcorn all over the world. In three years, the organization has gone from a staff of four, with one employee on the autism spectrum, to a staff of 50, nearly half of whom are on the spectrum. In July, the organization plans to expand to a larger production facility in order to keep up with demand.

The company provides an environment for employees to learn both hard skills, like food preparation and money management, and what the company describes as “watercooler life skills.”

"There just aren't many programs that teach these sorts of things in a real-world environment, with all that entails," Bier told My Central Jersey. "These are skills that the kids can use here, and elsewhere."

According to A Plus, you can now buy Popcorn for the People in person at locations like the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey and the Lyric Theatre in Times Square. The organization sells 12 flavors of popcorn (including cookies and cream, Buffalo wing, and French toast), all created by Agnes Cushing-Ruby, a chef who donates 40 hours a week to the company.

“I never thought that the little pop-up shop would grow into this,” Sam told A Plus. “It makes me so happy to see we have helped so many people.”

[h/t A Plus]

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IHOb Restaurants
10 Strange Publicity Stunts by Major Food Brands
IHOb Restaurants
IHOb Restaurants

Celebrities have always loved doing crazy things for press—but these days, even corporations will go to extreme lengths to get the word out about their products. Case in point: IHOP's recent attempt to create a little mystery, and sell some burgers, as IHOb. Below you’ll find 10 of the weirdest stunts done to promote mass-produced food items.

1. COLONEL SANDERS RAPPELS DOWN A HIGH-RISE

It’s hard to imagine KFC’s elderly Colonel Sanders doing much outside of eating and talking about his “finger lickin’ good” fried chicken. But in 2011, a man dressed as the Colonel strapped on a harness and rappelled down Chicago’s River Bend building. The Colonel didn't stop at rappelling down the 40-story building; he also handed out $5 everyday meals to window washers. What was KFC’s concept behind this dangerous promotion? They wanted to show the world they were taking lunch to “new heights.”

2. THE WORLD'S LARGEST POPSICLE

Sometimes being the biggest doesn’t mean you’re the best. In 2005, Snapple wanted to make the world’s largest Popsicle to promote their new line of frozen treats. Their plan was to display a 25-foot-tall, 17.5-ton treat of frozen Snapple juice in New York City’s Union Square. However, their plan ended in a sticky disaster. The day Snapple tried to present the Popsicle, New York was experiencing warmer than expected temperatures. The pop melted so quickly that a river of sticky sludge took over several streets. In a city already congested by traffic and tourists, this made Snapple enemy No. 1 that day to the people of New York City.

3. COFFEE CUPS ON CAR ROOFS = FREE COUPONS

A cup of Starbucks coffee
Wikimedia Commons

Starbucks believes in rewarding those who embrace the holiday spirit. In 2005, the Seattle-based coffee giant developed a campaign by which brand ambassadors drove around with replicas of Vente Starbucks cups affixed to their car roofs. If anyone stopped the ambassador to warn them about the coffee cup on their roof, that person received a $5 gift card to Starbucks. Starbucks wanted the world to know being a good samaritan really can pay!

4. MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

Imagine walking the beach and finding a sealed bottle of Guinness. But instead of finding beer inside, you find a note from King Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. In 1959, that happened to people along North America’s Atlantic coast. Guinness wanted to build brand awareness in the area, so they dropped 150,000 sealed Guinness bottles into the ocean. The bottle contained Neptune’s scroll announcing the House of Guinness’s Bi-Centenary as well as a document instructing the reader on how to make a Guinness bottle into a table lamp. While no one got a free beer (boo!), they did walk away with an arts and crafts project.

5. EAU DE FLAME-BROILED

Who can resist the smell of flame-broiled burgers? The answer is most people—at least when it comes in the form of a body spray. Burger King’s 2008 campaign promoting the “scent of seduction” may be one of the weirdest ideas on this list. The fast-food company thought they could capture the world’s attention by creating and advertising a meat-scented cologne called FLAME by BK. Though select New York City stores actually sold the scent, all of this was a tongue-in-cheek campaign to make the 18- to 35-year-old male demographic laugh.

6. HERE COMES THE SUN

London commuters experienced an unexpectedly bright morning during January 2012. Tropicana worked with the art collective Greyworld to create a fake sun promoting their “Brighter Morning” campaign. The "sun," made up of more than 60,000 light bulbs, rose over Trafalgar Square at 6:51 a.m. on a particularly chilly morning. The sun set at 7:33 p.m. Tropicana continued to promote their sun day, fun day by having Londoners sit under the sun with branded sunglasses, deck chairs, and blankets. 

7. AIRPORT STEAK DELIVERY

Some of the craziest publicity stunts can’t be planned. We live in a world of 24/7 social media, and when the Twitterverse gave Morton’s Steakhouse an opportunity, they seized upon it. Before flying from Tampa to Newark, Peter Shankman, an entrepreneur and author, jokingly tweeted at Morton's Steakhouse that he wanted a porterhouse steak to be waiting for him when he landed. As Shankman was a frequent diner and social media influencer, Morton's Steakhouse saw the opportunity to start a conversation—and they went for it: When Shankman touched down in Newark, he was greeted by his car service driver and a Morton’s deliveryman. If only all travelers could experience that happiness in an airport.

8. BUYING THE LIBERTY BELL

April Fools Day gags can be great for brands … or an embarrassment. In 1996, Taco Bell took out an ad in The New York Times saying they bought Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. The ad also informed people of the bell’s new name: "Taco Liberty Bell." Back in the mid-1990s, people couldn’t go on Twitter or Facebook to find out the truth. Instead, they wrote the publication voicing their outrage. The hoax may have worked in getting press coverage (650 print publications and 400 broadcast media outlets publicized the joke), but what does that say about your brand when people actually believe you would rename a historic monument for your own gain?

9. CREATING THE LARGEST MAN-MADE FIRE


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In 2011, the Costa-Mesa based chain El Pollo Loco sent out press releases saying they planned to create the world’s largest man-made fire. Why would they create a fire? El Pollo Loco needed to get the word out about their new flame-grilled chicken. Spectators attending the event were shocked to see that this stunt was actually a commercial shoot for the brand. The chain says they really did attempt to break the record. But many publications have stated the whole promotion was a fraud. Note to brands: When trying to pull off a publicity stunt and a commercial simultaneously, tell everyone your plan in advance.

10. KFC IN SPACE

KFC may just be the king of wild publicity stunts. In 2006, the company created an 87,500-square-foot logo at Area 51 in Rachel, Nevada. The company wanted to be the first brand visible from space. And it was no coincidence they picked a spot near “The World’s Only Extraterrestrial Highway.”

“If there are extraterrestrials in outer space, KFC wants to become their restaurant of choice,” said Gregg Dedrick, former president of KFC Corp. The world is not enough for KFC. They need the entire universe hooked on their Original Recipe.

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