For the first few years of Disneyland, the seven dwarfs appeared. They mainly appeared in parades. The dwarfs costumes used at Disneyland were created and used by The Ice Capades. These dwarfs have unique features and individual looks. If you look at them, in a way, they're sort of cute and full of fantasy.
Dwarfs at the Ice Capades. These costumes were used at Disneyland. credit
1960-1969: Burlap Dwarfs
The Disney costume department has created their version of the seven dwarfs. They designed the dwarfs with big heads, big hats and small bodies. The dwarf's faces and beards were made out of fin rubber, giving them a bulky, wrinkly look. The faces look similar to halloween masks and the hats are almost look like over sized pillows. The hats have screens in the middle were the performer sees out off. The performers had no control over the dwarf's arms. The arms just hang there freely, letting gravity do the work. Since the performers have no control of the arms, they use the dwarf's facial features to give the dwarfs more life. They would wiggle the tongue or the nose. Dopey and Bashful had special features; Dopey could move his ears and Bashful could blink. Doc was able to move his glasses up and down.
The reason I call this era of dwarfs "Burlap Dwarfs" is because they look like scarecrows. They look like something a farmer would put together and place on a field. Typically, scarecrows are made out of burlap, burlap is a rough fabric and rough describes these dwarfs.
Snow White and the Burlap Dwarfs at Disneyland, 1963.
Dopey at the World's Fair, 1964. credit
Grumpy at Disneyland, 1966. credit
These dwarfs were created for Disney on Parade and later adopted by the Disney parks. The dwarfs were redesigned to have new heads with similar expressions as before, new hats, new wardrobe and new hands. Their new wardrobe had unique color schemes and did not match the ones from the movie.
Doc: Orange hat, red shirt and blue pants
Grumpy: Lavender hat, orange shirt and red pants
Happy: Yellow-green hat, dark green shirt and brown pants
Sleepy: Fuchsia hat, orange-brown shirt and blue pants
Bashful: Red hat, indigo shirt and red/pink pants
Sneezy: Green hat, blue shirt and purple pants
Dopey: Purple hat, green shirt and pants1980-Present: Modern Dwarfs
They all wore the same black rubber boots. The performer has now control of the hands. The dwarfs hands were plastic hands attached to sticks, with fixed gestures. Like before, the dwarfs have rubber beards. The hats are now pointy and made out of rubber or plastic, coved with fabric. I call these dwarfs "Disco Dwarfs" for two reasons. One, these dwarfs were used during the 70's and the 70's are know for the disco craze. Second, I needed to call them something friendly because the original name I was going to give them was "Cond*m-Head Dwarfs."
The Disco Dwarfs at Disneyland. credit
Odd thing: for the Main Street Electrical Parade 1970's run, the dwarfs appeared at the parade. What's odd about this is that they appeared with live hands and fur beards. Yeah, with live hands and fur beards. Why didn't Disney do this on the first place? I think this is a premeditated introduction for the next versions of the dwarfs.
Doc and the rest at Disney World, 1979. source
The dwarfs have are now completely redesigned. One of the most notable changes is that the dwarfs now have fur beards. Their bodies are redesigned to suit the performer. The performer's hands are now the character's hands. All of the dwarfs have unique, individual body shapes, like Doc has a muffin top and Happy is completely round. The heads are smaller and more comfrotable for the performer. The dwarfs lose their "disco hats" and get new hats that cover their entire head, minus the face. All of the hats rest with ease. When this new version of the dwarfs debuted, Bashful had a pointy hat, resembling the hat's point from the movie. This was latter removed for a standard hat.
The dwarfs also changed in facial futures and color schemes:
Doc: Orange hat, yellow-ornage shirt, blue pats and orange shoes
Grumpy: Purple hat, red shirt, brown pants and green shoes
Happy: Yellow-green hat, dark green shirt, dark brown pants and red shoes
Sleepy: Fuchsia hat, orange-brown shirt, teal pants and red shoes
Bashful: Turquoise hat, red shirt, blue pants and brown shoes
Sneezy: Green hat, blue shirt, khaki pants and purple shoes
Doc, Grumpy, and Sneezy stayed with the same facial features as before. Happy also stayed the same, but with black eyebrows instead of white ones. Sleepy has sleepy, non-drowsy eyes, with bags under his eyes. Bashful has half closed eyes, which are similar to Sleepy's. Sometimes guests at the parks confuse Bashful for Sleepy and vise-versa. Dopey has a grin with the under lip sticking out. Giving him an over lip, or under lip. This Dopey was used until the mid 90's (can't find exact year.)
For the holiday season, all of the dwarfs wear green hats with ribbons and bells sewing into them. When Disney on ice uses the dwarfs on their shows, their color scheme changes to completely match the color scheme from the movie.
Bashful's hat, resembling to one from the movie; 1981. video
1990- Present: Dopey's Grin
Although I'm unable to pin point the correct year, around this time Dopey got a new smile. He now has an opened mouth smile, eliminating the previous one with the over lip. His hat is now shorter than before.
Dopey at Disney World, 2014. credit
2013- Present: Happiness Dwarf
One iconic scene from the movie is when Dopey is on Sneezy's shoulders and dances with Snow White. For Tokyo Disneyland's 30th anniversary parade "Happiness is Here," they made a special costume of Dopey on Sneezy's shoulders. The illusion works and looks really well. Sneezy has a happy expression on his face, instead of his regular expression. Sneezy also has a mechanism that makes his eyes move back and forth while the performer walks.
Sneezy and Dopey at Tokyo Disneyland, 2013. d23.com
2015- Present: Updated Dwarfs
A recent update has happened to the dwarfs. This new change is mainly their clothes. Their shirts are redesigned to have patches on the elbows, like they do in the movie. They also have rounded, stuffed cuffs, like Goofy. Their new shirt design is meant to keep the performer cool while in costume. The shirts have open vents on the sides. Everybody kept their color scheme epcept for Happy, which he got new orange sleeves. The dwarf's beards now go around their heads and underneath their hats, while Doc and Happy have beards made out a shorter fur pile and Happy now has white, fur eyebrows. The dwarfs heads (minus Dopey) have been re-designed on the inside to allow more movement from the performer. The heads used to rest on the performer's shoulders and now the can move with ease.
It's possible that this new rendition of the dwarfs are the new official costumes. They debuted at Disney World for Halloween 2015, with the previous costumes still in circulation. Maybe by the next year or two, these new dwarfs will be at all the parks.
The New Dwarfs at Disney World, 2015. source