Archives

Contribute to Our Research

Dick Nunis & The Amazing Tiny Pants

The Disney Look - Summer OptionsThe Disney Look – Summer Options for Supervisory and Office Personnel

Once upon a time…

Dick Nunis was the head of what is now known as Disney Parks & Resorts.

Nunis had risen through the ranks back in Walt’s day, eventually receiving the assignment of traveling to Florida to whip things into shape when Walt Disney World’s construction became bogged down and behind schedule. After twisting arms and busting tails in order to get the resort in working order, he continue to rise through the ranks until he was running the entire Attractions division.

Then things took a turn. Michael Eisner and Frank Wells arrived in 1984, and shifted the focus of the company drastically from theme parks to the moribund film division. Eisner wasn’t a theme park guy; while his push for prestige eventually led to a wave of expansion in the parks, he seemed at the time much more concerned with building his role as a media mogul. For the time being, the parks were on their own.

And so was Nunis. A wave of new executives from the film industry had arrived with no ties to Walt’s era, and Nunis increasingly became the odd man out in the corporate boardroom. As someone who had started at Disneyland in 1955, Nunis was an increasingly rare link to a bygone era.

So Nunis wound up in Florida. A stickler for the old principles from Walt’s day, it was perhaps easier on the executives in Burbank if Dick was posted to Orlando.

And so it was that, perhaps, Dick Nunis went a little stir-crazy.

It would be hard to blame him. Nunis had previously been at the center of everything, fighting to get the parks what they needed to meet Walt’s standards. But as control of what got built in the Disney parks began to slip further into the hands of the insidious Strategic Planning department, an army of accountants, and even the whims of Eisner’s sons, Nunis faced many more obstacles than he had in the past.

To Nunis’s credit, he was constantly pushing to create a unique and separate identity for Walt Disney World. This was a vestige of those early days, when the resort was the “Vacation Kingdom of the World” and clearly and obviously different from all other attractions in the area and even its corporate cousin Disneyland. As long as he could help it, Walt Disney World would be a distinct and unique vacation experience.

In 1991, though, Nunis went a bridge too far.

As the story goes, Nunis had been on a trip to Bermuda. There, it is perhaps no surprise, he saw men wearing Bermuda shorts – even businessmen. Apparently this caused something of a brainwave. Disney’s reputation – especially in Nunis’s day – hinged on a very straightlaced, businesslike appearance. But by incorporating the Bermuda look with the executive dress code at Walt Disney World, the resort’s management would look professional and corporate while also conveying the feel of the sunny tropics.

Besides, it would be far more comfortable than wearing a full suit in those humid Florida summers.

The result was astounding. George Taylor at Imaginerding recently posted an image from a 1991 Eyes & Ears in which the new dress code was announced. I think you’ll find the picture will be hard to forget.

Oddly enough, George posted his article as the following was passed along to me – a summary of the new dress code that was passed out to executives at the time. There were options for men and women, and I think you’ll agree that they’re quite impressive. In the end, there’s only one question – was this a great idea, or the greatest idea?

I am pleased to announce a new option in the Disney Look for the hot, summer months of June through September. During those months, Walt Disney World Co. supervisory and office personnel will be permitted to wear Bermuda/walking shorts. Please review this supplement to the Disney Look that spells out the conditions of the new guidelines.

This optional appearance style is meant to be a fun, cool, and professional look; and I think it will be great for the hot Florida summers. As the standard bearers of the Disney Image, you are responsible for upholding the professional reputation that we have worked so hard to create. I am counting on you to make sure our worldwide reputation for our appearance standards is maintained with this new look. If you have any questions at all regarding this new policy, please contact your respective Appearance Coordinator.

- Dick Nunis

These dress options were intended, as stated, for supervisory and office personnel at the Walt Disney World Co. Florida property only. The “Bermuda/Walking Shorts Look” was allowed from June 1st through September 30th. Here are the options for the gents:

Disney Summer Look - MaleThe Disney Summer Look for the Gentlemen

Men’s Guidelines

In addition to the guidelines already listed in the Disney Look Book, the following option has been added for the months of June, July, August and September.

Bermuda/walking shorts with a shirt and tie are acceptable for management. However, the following stipulations will apply to this look:

1. The length of the shorts should be from the top of the kneecap to three inches above the top of the kneecap. Styles and lengths that are unacceptable include running shorts, bike shorts, tennis shorts, golf shorts, cut-offs and any style that suggests casual wear.

2. A shirt and tie must be worn at all times.

3. A blazer or jacket is optional.

4. This look must be worn with solid color knee socks that match the shorts.

5. Professional dress shoe styles that complement the color of the knee socks are acceptable. Casual or sport style shoes are unacceptable. Please refer to the existing guidelines for further shoe recommendations.

6. The fabric of the outfit can be a matching suit look in both jacket and shorts. Suits of this type are available in retail markets that deal with warmer climates. Acceptable fabrics should consist of linen or blends of fabrics that are traditionally found in men’s dress business trousers. Unacceptable fabrics include denim, poly/cotton blends, or any fabric that suggests casual wear.

7. Shirts must be standard business dress shirts in long or short sleeve. They can not have large elaborate prints or any design that suggests casual wear.

While the above option can be comfortable during the summer, it also has the potential to be extremely risky from a professional viewpoint. If you do not understand all the parameters of this option, please contact your respective Appearance Coordinator for clarification.

This option is subject to fashion each year, therefore, acceptable styles for the coming season will be issued each May by the Appearance Coordinators.

“This option is subject to fashion each year.” Yup, I’d agree with that.

But what of the ladies?

Disney Summer Look - FemaleThe Disney Summer Look for the Ladies. I like the one on the far right – she seems saucy.

Women’s Guidelines

In addition to the guidelines already listed in the Disney Look Book, the following option has been added for the months of June, July, August and September.

Bermuda/walking shorts with a blouse and jacket are acceptable for management. However, the following stipulations will apply to this look:

1. The length of the shorts should be from the top of the kneecap to three inches above the top of the kneecap. Styles and lengths that are unacceptable would include clam diggers, pedal pushers, short shorts, hot pants, bike shorts, spandex shorts, wrap style shorts, jams, all athletic styles (ie. golf, tennis, etc.). In addition, styles such as one piece rompers and short/suspender combinations are also unacceptable.

2. Jackets must be worn when not in the immediate work area. The jacket or blazer must be well constructed. To effectively balance the proportion of this silhouette, the jacket length should be the same as a traditionally styled blazer.

3. Blouses should be a dress style in long or short sleeve and must be tucked in. Cotton knit tops and sweaters are unacceptable.

4. Natural skin tone hosiery must be worn at all times. Socks of any variety are unacceptable.

5. Please refer to existing guidelines for shoe recommendations.

6. Acceptable fabrics should consist of wool, silk, linen, rayon, or blends of these fibers with polyester. One hundred percent woven cottons with a hard-worsted finish are acceptable. Fabrics must not suggest casual sportswear. Fabrics that are unacceptable include poly/cotton blends, denim, spandex, elaborate prints, knits, sheers, leather, suede, gauze, metallics or any fabric that suggests casual sportswear.

7. Dress, skirt and pant lengths will remain the same. Please refer to the existing guidelines for management

8. This option is unacceptable for maternity wear.

While the above option can be comfortable during the summer, it also has the potential to be extremely risky from a professional viewpoint. If you do not understand all the parameters of this option, please contact your respective Appearance Coordinator for clarification.

This option is subject to fashion each year, therefore, acceptable styles for the coming season will be issued each May by the Appearance Coordinators.

I like the ladies’ guidelines better. The list of poor short choices in #1 is fantastic, if only for the shout-out for jams. The list of materials in #6 makes me wonder what these executives were up to in their off-hours.

So there’s a peek at the casual, yet professional, atmosphere of Walt Disney World in 1991. Special thanks to Progress Citizen par excellence Another Voice, who clued me in to this tale and passed along the pretty pictures.

Related Posts...

13 comments to Dick Nunis & The Amazing Tiny Pants

  • RandySavage

    I love it. I already had lots of respect for Dick Nunis (due to his obsessiveness for standards at WDW) and it’s now shot up even further. He seems like one of those old-school guys – tough but with loads of class.

    When I was working on Wall St, I’d occasionally see guys break out their walking shorts in the summer heat of Manhattan. I was very envious.

  • Another Voice

    Dick Nunis is the great unsung hero of Disney. He is a class act in a company that has sorely needed one for three decades. He was the only one not to cave into Eisner’s demands to cheapen Disney (and I’m looking at you Marty and Tony), yet has never did and will never say anything about his battles to the press. The “magic” of Disney isn’t to be aired in public, no matter how hard he fought behind the scenes. Dick was constantly pushing on behalf of the parks (he was the one that finally convinced Frank Wells to go with ‘Splash Mountain’ and demanded that the existing parks needed to be revitalized on a regular basis). He made every decision based on what was right for the guests and the long term interests of the parks. And for those pains he received the rawest deal dished out to anyone in the company.

    It’s time that the Internet fandoms recognize all that he accomplished for them.

  • The images are amazing. It is funny how the women’s image looks so much better. It must be the crazy socks.

    Seriously, the guys all look like dorks!

  • The women look so much better because at first they just look like skirts – until you notice they’re weird flowy shorts. The guys look totally demented though, and that’s coming from a die-hard inveterate short-wearer. They look like they got caught with their pants off – maybe it’s the silly matching socks.

    And yes, Nunis will always get credit in the Progress City Hall of Legends! If only he had stayed in power, into the era of the utilikilt!

  • Dan

    Wow! This look is like an executive mullet. All business up top and a party below the equator.

  • TRW

    We were just talking about this the other day in the office! I’ve worked at WDW since 1985. This was pretty much a joke when it was announced and it died QUICKLY (though not as quick as Eisner’s “Handwich”). I only saw one manager wearing this “look” and I only saw him wear it once. It’s just too weird for the U.S. Mr. Nunis was not well respected when this decision was made, and this further cemented his image as being out of touch.

  • This is why the internet exists. Between you and George, nobody will ever need to write about knee high socks at Walt Disney World again. Dick Nunis was amazing. Few people in history can keep things like the antiques store in Liberty Square afloat for years while also being willing to destroy an island to go surfing.

  • TRW: I’d be interested in hearing more – obviously I have a lot of respect for Nunis due to his efforts to make WDW truly different with tons of bizarre little details (like Foxxy says, the antique store…), but I’d be interested in hearing more opinions from on the ground at that time. I can’t imagine how I would have reacted at the time to the Bermuda look…

    And, if you didn’t know, I’m totally obsessed with the Disney Handwich (TM) so if you want to talk about that you’re more than welcome!

    Foxx: Don’t forget the never-ending pursuit of the Matterhorn!

  • Just stumbled across this article, and now it’s settled. I am definitely wearing knee high dress socks along with my shorts the next time I visit WDW. Maybe I’ll throw in some garters or something, some nice loafers, an occasional blazer.

    This has to be the dorkiest dresscode on the planet, next to the Hot Dog on a Stick people.

  • I think the Dick Nunis look should be the official field togs of licensed Parkeologists. It’s cool in hot climes, allows for maximum agility, and the ladies love it.

  • JOE

    DICK NUNIS IS A VERY SINSTER CONECTED TO ORGANIZED CRIME-TAVISTOCK

  • […] Dick Nunis & The Amazing Tiny Pants « Progress City, U.S.A.Feb 17, 2010 … Dick Nunis was the head of what is now known as Disney Parks & Resorts. Nunis had risen through the ranks back in Walt’s day, eventually … […]

Leave a Reply