Nobody wears these things anymore. Nobody, except theme park employees and Disney Store sales people. In fact, the only department where people still sport name badges seems to be Disney Imagineering. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the theme park association. Then again, Walt Disney Imagineering was the creative unit where the Old Maestro spent most of his time. Especially during the sixties the last years of his life. Today, new employees are given name badges when beginning their employment at the company. During more innocent times, employees wore their name badges with pride. Today, it’s considered somewhat geeky and few people even bother putting the cute little badges on their apparel.
I’ve got a drawer full of these unique Disney items and I’ve been collecting them for more years then I care to remember. I think the basic badge featured a picture of Mickey Mouse but over the years there have been new badges commemorating special Disney events such as the rerelease of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. When the new Animation Building opened in the early nineties we received new badges with images of the iconic structure celebrating the filmmaker’s new workspace.
Whenever a show business big shot collaborated with the Walt Disney Company on a new project there would always be a photograph featuring the celebrity wearing his or her Disney name badge. At least the Hollywood hot shots thought wearing the Disney name tag was cool. I suppose one of these days we might even see big time producer, director, James Cameron sporting a Disney name badge if he hasn’t done so already. And when Star Wars director, J.J. Abrams heads out on his Disney Press Tour, he might be wearing one as well.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been sixty years since I walked through the Buena Vista gate and became a Disney employee. The “Old Man” was still hard at work and focused on tweaking his Anaheim theme park as well as overseeing dozens of other projects. I honestly felt a sense of pride working for Walt Disney Studios and would have eagerly worn my name badge had I had one. Yet, back in the fifties, years would pass before I observed studio staffers with a name tag. Today, the Disney badge indentifies you as a cast member and a member of the Disney team. As teams go - that’s not neccessarily a bad thing.