Whether you’ve done a Walt Disney World backstage tour, know someone who has worked at WDW, or have done your own research about working at the most magical place on earth, you’ve probably heard some of the strict requirements for working on property. We’ve compiled 10 inscrutable requirements of working as a character cast member at WDW – would you make the cut?
10. Audition Torture
Every successful Disney character cast member has to audition, unsurprisingly. But these are no normal auditions. They can last up to 6 hours, and can be quite rigorous. The first cut is people who don’t fit the height requirements. After that come smile tests, improvisation exercises as different characters, dance steps and movement tests, cold reads where hopefuls try to imitate characters’ voices, and finally, character tests in full costume and makeup!
Walt Disney World is pretty particular about height and sizes when it comes to character casting. Each character has its own specific height and size range, and if you want to play a character, you have to fall into this range. Most Disney princesses, for instance, must be between 5’4” and 5’7”, and the largest size princess costumes come in is size 10. This is to make sure Disney princesses look similar from one day (and cast member) to the next, and to streamline costume fitting.
8. Perfection, Please
Walt Disney World character cast members whose faces are seen must look like their Disney characters, without any features that stand out or draw attention away from the character. And this means that any identifying facial characteristics (scars, moles, etc.) that might be noticed by guests are a no-no. Luckily, the makeup supplied for WDW characters is pretty amazing, and it can cover up minor skin imperfections.
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7. Tattoos and Piercings
If you have a tattoo, you can still be a Disney character cast member – with a couple of stipulations! No cast members are allowed to have visible tattoos, whether they’re costumed or non-costumed, character or non-character. Cast members can use makeup or clothing to cover up visible tattoos, but depending on the role they play and the location of the tattoo, makeup might not be allowed and the costume might not cover it. The same goes for all body piercings outside of – for women – traditional ear piercings.
6. Furry Friends
No matter what Disney character they’re hired to portray, all character cast members start out playing “fur” characters (costumes where the face isn’t seen – think Mickey, Winnie the Pooh, and the Beast, among others). There’s a special set of rules for fur characters (they’re not allowed to talk, for example). Once a cast member has spent several weeks as a fur character, interacting with guests, he or she begins training for roles where their faces are seen.
5. Rules, Rules, Rules
There are very strict guidelines that all character cast members must follow, and a big one is: no posting on social media about what character(s) you’re playing, or any details about your role. Disney doesn’t want anything spoiling that Disney magic for anyone! In fact, in Disney parks, no one is ever said to “play” a specific character – there is only one Ariel, one Mickey, etc. Instead, character cast members are said to be “friends with” characters they’re portraying.
4. Where’s That Smile?
We all have bad days, and it’s sometimes it’s hard to keep our personal lives from affecting our work lives. But if you work at Walt Disney World, you must be able to put your personal problems aside to stay in character and smile for the guests – if a supervisor notices that cast members aren’t their cheerful selves for whatever reason, they’ll be switched to other duties that day, that don’t involve close interaction with guests.
3. Autograph Training
Did you know that every Disney character has his or her own distinct signature? It’s true! And this is why every character cast member at Walt Disney World goes through autograph training. (We can’t imagine it’s easy to sign a signature, especially in a specific way, while wearing character hands!) So, no matter when your little one meets Mickey Mouse, his signature will be recognizable.
2. Always in Character
Disney prides itself on creating a magical show for each and every guest, and this extends to interactions with character cast members. Anyone who’s ever met a character at Walt Disney World will know that these cast members have to be in character every second that they’re working. Disney characters are supposed to be unaware of anything outside of their own particular Disney realm, so don’t be surprised if they play dumb if asked about something their characters wouldn’t know about!
1. A Tough Job
Playing a Disney character sure isn’t all fun and games. The weather in Florida can be extremely hot and humid, and Disney character cast members must often work outside in extreme temperatures in uncomfortable or heavy costumes, while keeping smiles on their faces. They must also have endless patience on hand to deal – cheerfully – with rude, creepy or violent guest behavior. No one ever said it was easy to be a Disney character cast member!