I worked as various princesses at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. AMA!
Hey guys, I worked at The Walt Disney World Resort as Mulan, Pocahontas, & Silvermist the Fairy for about four years. Ask me anything!
Silvermist the fairy (from the direct-to-DVD Tinkerbell movies)
AUGUST 26 2014 3:35 PM CST: THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR A GREAT AMA & I HOPE THAT THE AMOUNT OF QUESTIONS I'VE ANSWERED DIDN'T REVEAL THE AMOUNT OF TIME I SPEND SITTING ON THE INTERNET ALONE AT MY HOUSE (96%)
EDIT: stop giving me reddit gold i don't even know how to do it
EDIT EDIT: is this like fight club in the reddit gold lounge how do i challenge people to fight me here
EDIT EDIT EDIT: someone is dead in the reddit gold lounge but it wasn't me i couldn't find the vending machine
So weird! I just happened to look at this AMA and I saw your picture and I thought you looked so familiar! Photo is from back in early 2012. Mulan is my sisters favorite! I wasn't feeling good that day so I didn't get a photo with you :(
This is so awesome. Hope you guys had a great time!
My favourite thing about talking with the princesses are the one-liners they do in character, for instance Ariel calling a cellphone a "shellphone." I clearly like bad puns, that's also why I like the jungle river cruise...
Anyway! What were some of your favourite one liners or things to do in character?
My favorite joke to tell was: "Do you know what Mushu's least favorite chore is? Mow Lawn."
Nobody ever really laughed, but I thought I was hilarious. FORGET THE HATERS
As an adult male that goes to WDW with my family, how do the princesses really feel about guys that want to take photos with you? Does it ever get a little creepy!?
We're girls. We like attention. Take the picture!
edit: unless you are a serial killer please don't touch us ever
Did you ever have kids tell you that you weren't the real thing? How did you handle that?
Chinese people would always tell me to speak Chinese & I'd tell them that I bet Mushu if I could go an entire day without speaking Chinese he'd feed the chickens for me tomorrow.
Are Brazilian tourists as bad as other Disney AMA people say?
How many South Americans does it take to overcrowd a Disney Theme Park?
Do adults hit on you?
I was hit on as Pocahontas more than Mulan or Silvermist, & it definitely has to do with the amount of clothing she's wearing. I've never been touched inappropriately, but there's always the family that makes the grandpa or the dad get a picture alone & they'd whisper how pretty I was or ask when I got off of work. I'd get slipped the occasional phone number on a napkin, but nothing ridiculous has ever happened.
But it's probably a different story for the Princess Jasmines, who are wearing just a bra & parachute pants.
Ever call dem numbers?
MY GIRLS DON'T GOT A PHONE I ONLY SEND SMOKE SIGNALS & SCROLLS WRITTEN BY A CRICKET
I heard a lot of the princes are gay..true?
What kind of training are you put through for this job?
How closely are you watched by management?
Everyone is hired initially as the role "Character Performer". You are not allowed to learn a "face" role (the characters that talk to you) unless you have had training as a fur character first (costumed characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, etc.). It is probably different now than my training five years ago, but when I trained, I had five days of fur character training, which was three days of animation & autograph practice, & two days meeting guests as a fur character. After you are approved for the fur character training, you are allowed to move on to face character training.
You have two days of training per face character you're given. Day 1 is watching the movie, learning how to walk, talk, & act, & day 2 is meet & greets with guests. I think there may be an additional day for accents ex. Alice in Wonderland & Mary Poppins, but none of my three face roles had an accents, so i'm not sure.
There are people who are face trainers, who monitor you during training. After you are approved, you are expected to maintain your training & uphold character integrity during meet & greets. You have character attendants who are in charge of your lines & dealing with guests during your meet & greets, but there isn't someone watching you every meet & greet to see if you're always acting like your character.
What's the craziest thing that happened to you while you worked there?
Weirdest thing, hands down:
I was Pocahontas, & I met a little girl named Emily. she was about 7 & with her dad. She came up & said, "Hi Pocahontas, I made you this card." I opened it & it said
"Dear Pocahontas, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily."
I thanked her, & she left. Two days later, I was Silvermist, & guess who comes into Pixie Hollow? Emily. & she gave me a card:
"Dear Tinkerbell & her friends, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily"
Her dad didn't recognize me, but I was excited to have two cards from the same girl. a few days later, I was Mulan, & GUESS WHO COMES UP TO ME?
So I said, before she started talking, "I know you , you're Emily! I heard you're really good at drawing flowers, all of my friends told me."
This girl's face lit up like the Fourth of July & she pulled a card out.
"Dear Mulan, Shang, & Mushu, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily."
I have three cards for all three of my face characters from the same girl.
You guys do a great job. My youngest was six at the time and is deaf (with cochlear implants) and a little hard to understand sometimes. We waited until late in the day to visit Pixie Hollow because of the crowds. He is a big fan of Tinkerbelle and couldn't wait to see her. When our turn came he ran up to her and said, "I think you are beautiful!" The girl playing Tinkerbelle was so nice to him and talked with him for a long time. The pictures we have are wonderful. He has the biggest smile. Thanks for doing what you do!
These are the best stories to hear, & it's the reason the job is so unique & great. I'm so happy you had a fantastic experience!
Mulan is one of my favorite disney movies because she is a stronger, more independent leading lady than many of the princesses. I always found it odd that the Mulan dolls are dressed in the outfit she wore to meet the matchmaker even though she didn't feel like herself in those clothes. Have you ever dressed as warrior Mulan at the park? Do you think small children would enjoy warrior Mulan as much as Princess Mulan?
The moms at Disney loved to tell me how much they like Mulan because she's so independent & able to kick the other guy's butts without a prince! I love her for that reason, too. I also love that I didn't have to act especially girly when I was Mulan, because I'm not that girly either. Mulan is just awesome in general, let's face it.
It was always a friggin' dream to get to dress as Ping. Unfortunately, Mulan only dresses as her warrior version for special events, & I just didn't happen to ever get scheduled it. It was pretty rare, though. Not even twice a year, I'd say.
What are your favorite memories of your time there?
"Mulan, how you say elephant in Spanish?"
"Pocahontas you are my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother"
"Mulan did you know Ariel & Prince Eric had sex to make Melody"
"Hi Silvermist, look at my arm. This is a cast." "Oh, were you having too many adventures? Climbing trees?" "No, I touched a stove."
"Pocahontas you are my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother"
Did you get the impression it could have been true, or were they just joking? Pretty cool if real.
The parents verified it. I got it more than once actually. I just would say "it's nice that the wind carries my relatives to me every once in a while." or something like that.
You seem to have an awesome response to everything! Do they teach you those kind of one liners, or do they just let you run with it?
People ask very similar questions throughout the day. & when you do 5+ hours a day of talking to guests for 5-7 days a week, you have your quick little one-liners ready.
Also, most kids are shy when they come up to meet you. In all honesty, I've had thousands of conversations with people where I'm the only one talking. I'm proud of that.
I'm proud of being able to talk to myself...
Did you ever have a bad day and still have to work? Was it hard to maintain a "magical" attitude when your actual attitude was in the dump?
It is like any job in hospitality. People are paying money to receive a certain experience, & your job is accommodate them.
If i was ever upset about something in my life, there would be at least one child/parent who would be so awesome & make me remember how great the job is.
That sounds so stupid. But it's true. It's a cool job.
What's one of the weirdest things you've seen a coworker do while still dressed in a character costume? Seen pictures of them in a smoking area and stuff but anything just completely absurd?
One time in the break room I saw Cinderella & Snow White fit comfortably under Tiana's dress & when Belle came around the corner they popped out & scared her.
An ex of mine worked as an internship with Disney and said the coolest thing to see was all the princesses eating together in the cafeteria downstairs. Also whats your favorite thing that only employees get to do?
Haha, people always stared when I would eat in the cafeteria! It is really funny to see though. LET ME EAT MY SUBWAY SANDWICH IN THIS CHER-LOOKIN' WIG IN PEACE, OKAY?
I loved getting out of work & going to Epcot with my friends to drink around the world. I miss that the most.
I understand those are the actual autographs that you have to learn for those characters? Do you ever learn other character's autograph just for the hell of it?
One of my best friends is Tigger & Goofy & he knows every single Princess signature, just because he da real autograph MVP. Also he gets bored.
Do you often sign people's stuff,books,etc? i imagine its really cool in a way.
Almost every kid has an autograph book at Disney! Either that or pillow cases.
Now I just use my autograph knowledge as a party trick.
Please tell me you sign as Disney character for receipts! If that's legal. I'd flip and save it... Again, if that's legal.
I used to on accident! I signed "Mulan" about 1000 times a day at work, you eventually get handed paper & do it without thinking.
His name isn't Josh, is it?
You spelled his name wrong. You spelled it like Josh.
Who decides which role you portray and when?
How long at a stretch to you portray these characters before you get a break or switch to another role?
There is an entire casting team who chooses what role you play. You attend auditions which involve acting like the character, dressing up like the character, & having photos taken of you. You then wait & they call you if you are approved.
There are a lot of rumors involving the process of picking characters. You do not have any say in what character they fit you in. They do not tell you why you are not chosen for that character. You could look exactly like Cinderella, but if they do not need to hire any more Cinderellas, you may not get chosen.
People lie about what happens at their auditions all of the time. "they told me i was too fat." "They said my skin wasn't dark enough."
They never tell anyone these things. They either say yes or no.
Did Blaine propose to you?
He didn't. forever a CHINESE WARRIOR WHO DON'T NEED NO MAN
Wow! This was my dream job when I was younger. Did WDW train you to sing to the children as well? I was Cinderella for a three year old's birthday party once and the kiddos wanted me to sing all the songs (good thing I was well versed in my Disney classics).
We're not allowed to sing for meet & greets. There are certain people who sing as the princesses (Belle in the Beauty & the Beast show at Hollywood studios, for example), but they are under an equity contract.
What is the creepiest interaction you've had with a child? Adult?
THIS WILL ALWAYS BE MY #1 CREEPY DISNEY STORY:
I was Silvermist, & we were meeting our last family of the night in Pixie Hollow. Tinkerbell, Rosetta & I were having fun with this little girl who was about 5. Her mom was with her, & the girl was being silly & running around laughing at us & talking a lot. You take individual pictures with the fairies, but we decided to ask if she wanted a special picture with all three of us. We stood together, & the mom said "Stand between them!" The little girl all of a sudden got really shy, & ran to her mom & hid. Her mom said "Oh no, are you being a little stinker? I know, if you give mommy a lick will you feel better?" The little girl nodded & smiled.
She then proceeded to lick her mom's face, from her chin to her forehead. She laughed, her mom laughed, & Tinkerbell, Rosetta, & me are standing there horrified at the m night shymalan twist this meet & greet has taken. The little girl happily walked over to us & took the picture after she did it.
A few friends of mine worked on cruise ships, so I felt like that would be awesome & applied. I've been doing it for two years now, & it's still awesome to introduce myself as MY OWN NAME & not Mulan or Poca.
Are there any special perks of the job?
~~UnLiMiTeD MaGiC fEeLiNgS 4Evr*~~*~
No but it was cool to be able to go into the park with my friends whenever I wanted, get my family in for free & get discounted stuff in the park all the time.
About ten kids, all less than eight.
"HEY FAIRY CAN YOU FLY???" "Yes I can!" "FLY RIGHT NOW! SEE, SHE CAN'T! SHE'S A LIAR! LIARRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!"
What'd you say to get out of being unable to fly?
I was saving my pixie dust for later.
Tell me princess, when did you last let your heart decide?
My heart just decided to eat pizza rolls at 1:51 AM
Are any of the characters harder to play than others? Also, is there a "best" time to visit Disney for someone with kids in school that doesn't want to suffer through brutal Florida summer heat and the summer crowds? We were thinking of going during spring break (April or May around here).
Pocahontas is pretty difficult, just because she was a real person that a majority of children learn about in school. So it was always hard to try & change the conversation about why I'm standing there talking to them & not dead.
One time a little british boy said to me "MY CLASS VISITED YOUR GRAVE LAST YEAR!!!!!!!!!!"
Here's a chart that shows the heaviness of crowds in 2014. Hope that helps!
Is it true there's a highshcool-esque hierarchy with the employees behind the scenes? Like the people who dress as characters act too important to associate with servers etc?
When I worked there, I would go to the cafeteria & people would stare at me & not talk to me. Those people then would tell their friends I didn't say hi to them & that I wasn't friendly, but those people didn't make an effort to talk to me either.
That's how I think the whole "all of the princesses are bitches" thing gets around.
A little girl grows up going to Disney World with her family. She spends her trip waiting in line to meet characters who smile at her and hug her & give her autographs & tell her they like her dress. That little girl grows up & applies at Walt Disney World because she wants to be part of the magic. She sees Princess Belle, a character she's met countless times, ordering food at the Cast Member cafeteria. Belle doesn't smile at her this time, because Belle is a twenty-something who just did five meet & greets, & is a human being on her lunch break. That girl tells her Cast Member friends that Belle isn't smiling & that she must be a bitch because she didn't smile at her or say hello.
This is how that rumor gets around. I wish someone had asked me this question earlier. Yes, some people are not very nice. That is every workplace on this earth. It doesn't mean everyone ever is a total asshole.
What do you love most about rivers?
you can't poop in the same river twice the water's always changing always flowing
Have you ever ruined a kids childhood by acting out of character? Like if someone saw a Disney princess smoking or saw her come out of a changing room holding the outfit, they would find out that it's all a lie. Has this happened to you ever?
I worked a 14 hour day & saw the last family, who were nice, but I wanted to go home. They exited the room, & I immediately pulled off my wig & went "AWWWW YESSSSSSS!!!!"
The little girl ran back in & said "bye guys! Bye Tinkerbell! Bye Silvermist! Bye Rosetta!"
I was holding my weave in my hand. RIP child's dreams
what was the costuming routine like? what kind of make up did you have to wear? also, were there any strange rules that you had to follow that you didn't think were fair/seemed pointless?
You are scheduled to clock in 1 hour before your first meet & greet. This is when you do your makeup & get your costume on. They provide all of the makeup, & each character has a specific makeup profile with specific colors. You're taught how to do the makeup in your training for the character.
Which one that you've played has been the most popular?
That's hard to say! Pocahontas is definitely the most recognizable of the three, just because her movie is the oldest & she is a real person from history. Her meet & greet lines were sporadic during the day, though. Sometimes they would be extremely long, & other times i'd just be standing there twiddling my thumbs & talking to a tree. Most everyone knows who she is when they see the costume, though.
Mulan does meet & greets in the China pavilion at Epcot, so when she's out there, some people (mostly older) just think I'm a random "geisha" who is part of the atmosphere.
My favorite names I've been called: A lovely geisha woman, Memoirs of a Geisha, Mulan rouge (?????????) Jasmine's Mom, Pocahontas, Lucy Liu, "What the hell are you supposed to be?"
Silvermist did meet & greets with Tinkerbell in the Pixie Hollow area, so people who didn't know who she was had to meet her anyway. Most kids knew, though.
What's your advice for someone who'd like to eventually do what you do?
Watch videos of the fur characters on youtube, & try to mimic what they do. That can be a basis of how to pass an audition. Take some simple dance class if you're feeling nervous.
When it comes down to being a face character, they pick who they pick, & if you look like a character to them, you'll get it.
My only real advice is to not stress about it, & keep trying.
You said somewhere that you work on cruise ships. What's your job there?
I'm an entertainment host. I run trivias, game shows, facilitate parties, etc.
So how accurate would say is Swoozie's take on working at Disney Land?
The people he worked with sound 100% accurate to what kind of people work attractions at Disney. I worked attractions at Hollywood Studios before I was in Entertainment, & the old people snitching was out of control.
From what you've seen, do other actors at Disney World stay as long as you have? Is there anyone who quit quickly because it didn't live up to their expectations?
It's just like a regular job, people quit for different reasons. There are some people who have been there for over 30 years.
What's the ratio of gay and straight princes?
if he's a prince at dis-nay, then hay girl hay.
What was the process of getting the job like? From the little research I've done it seemed like auditions were pretty intense.
If you attend a look-alike audition, you literally stand there in a line, they look at you, & choose who they want to stay. Everyone else leaves, & there is an animation portion where they put on music & say "okay, pretend you're giving a dog a bath! Pretend you're making a giant sandwich! Pretend the moon is made of ribs!" Or whatever they choose. They will then make another cut if they have to, & then they'll send you to cosmetology to get makeup & costume. You will then be coached a little bit from a trainer on what your character sounds like, & you will read an excerpt of the movie or a monologue they've written, acting like the character. You do this in front of several casting people. They will then take pictures of you, send you home, & call you if you get it.
This was five years ago. It has probably changed since then.
I think now there might be a dancing portion? A girl I'm friends with on facebook recently went through auditions and she said something about them having to learn a dance and then perform it as a group.
There are dancing portions if you are going to auditions for a general character performer, which are the fur characters. They may have added a dancing portion to the look-alike auditions, but I didn't have one.
Did you get your tattoo after you left WDW? Also what does it? :)
I have four, & they are all post-Disney tattoos. One is actually Mulan's hair comb, just because it really left a lot of great memories with me.
How long were the shifts? Did you ever get tired or annoyed with people?
It depends on the location. For Mulan I did a 40 minute set, & had 20 minute break. I did this for nine hours with a lunch in the middle of the day. But my meet & greet was outdoors. If you are indoor, you could do up to an hour & a half. I can't remember exactly. The fairies were indoors & i would do an hour & twenty minutes on, & forty five minutes break.
it's different for every character. Fur characters are never outside for more than 30 minutes, & if it's an indoor location, they're not out for more than 45 minutes.
Fur characters are never outside for more than 30 minutes
I can't begin to tell you how relieved I am to see this.
It's no more than twenty minutes during the summer!
What was your overall experience working at Walt Disney World? Would you do it again?
I loved it, but there is more drama there than a high school. I don't really get how hugging kids & working only 40 minutes out of every hour can be difficult. People find reasons to complain, though.
If you don't like a job, leave.
I wouldn't do it again, just because it's such a negative work space. Also, I have a lot of tattoos now & I don't think they'd take me back. Who knows, though.
Does the job pay well?
This is one thing I don't want to go into too much detail about, but if you Google the wages for Walt Disney World, you could easily find it & form your own conclusion.
What's one awesome thing to do at Disney World that most people don't know but should do?
Did you have a favorite character/costume?
Chip & Dale are the most fun, because all they do is troll people all day. Steal a water bottle? everybody laughs. Sit in a stroller? Hilarious. pretend to punch your character attendant in the testicles? BOY DO THEY LAUGH.
They're so fun. & people love them!
Is there any way to get pictures taken with not-so-popular characters like Scrooge or Ludwig Von Drake?
I think scrooge is in the Christmas Parade every year, but I don't know if he does meet & greets during the Christmas Parties at Magic Kingdom.
Do you ever see yourself in random strangers' vacation photos on facebook etc?
It's really weird to be scrolling through your tumblr dashboard & your own face pops up.
does it bother anyone else that the comb in the mulan costume is balanced onto of the wig?
It bothered me every day. BUT REMEMBER MAGICS
First of all, thanks for deciding to do this! I love everything Disney but haven't made it to any of their parks yet. :( Just wondering which of your costumes was the most uncomfortable? How did your skin handle the make-up everyday?
Mulan's outfit is a dress, & on top of the dress a skirt, & then on top of the skirt an obi, & then around your sleeves is a shawl-type deal, her shoes & then a collar & necklace, & then the wig & makeup.
it is all heavy polyester. it is death in the summer.
i have very sensitive skin, so i used my own foundation, which helped a lot.
Years ago I met someone who worked at Disney as a character like yourself. She would never tell me because she said she signed a contract. Did you not sign the same thing? Have they done away with it? If not, can't you get in trouble for this if they really wanted to pursue it?
I don't work there anymore.
There's a discussion about this at /r/waltdisneyworld...
How many duplicates of the face characters are there at any given time? I'd heard that in the new princess meet and greet building at WDW there are duplicate rooms so multiple sets of Elsa and Anna can meet guests simultaneously. (And multiple sets of Cinderella and Rapunzel on the other side of the building too). Any truth to that?
Back when Toontown was still in the Magic Kingdom, there were three Princess rooms. One Cinderella, Aurora, & Belle in each one. If all three rooms were operating, that means when the girls went on break, other girls would replace them. So there were a total of six Cinderellas around the area at a time. None of the guests know this because there are attendants to take them into each room, one group at a time. So a group of thirty will go into room one, thirty go into room two, etc. etc.
It's a very cool operation. I haven't been at Disney since 2012, & a lot has changed since then. But if you think about it, Cinderella is in the Parade, doing breakfast, lunch, & dinner rotation at Cinderella's castle, & she is in the princess room. At Epcot she is at the Norway breakfast. She's also in the night time parade. She's also in the main stage show at Magic Kingdom. That's at least ten girls who are Cinderella in one day.
It's awesome to think about the fact that you never see two together. It's very cool, & very well planned.
Herro cherry brossom! Do you remember that one time I ate orange chicken with you in your dressing room?
lemme kiss your gay face until the end of time
How long does it take to get all your hair and make up done? Which princess (out of all of them) do you think had the worse time? Were you happy not play "whiter" characters?
You're scheduled an hour prior to your set to apply your makeup. All of my characters were pretty easy, but there are characters like Darth Maul & Ahsoka Tano who require professionals to do it for them since it's so extensive.
Did you ever work with Prince Charming? If so, is he a cool guy or does his ego get in the way?
He hit me with his purse once.
Favourite ride/attraction? Any characters you wish you had played?
I LOVE DINOSAUR & PHILHARMAGIC
I always wished i was Drizella the ugly stepsister. The Tremaine family is so fun to watch.
Mulan and Pocahontas? You are like the female John Turturro, you can play any ethnicity! Do you feel slighted when you have to play a princess from a direct to dvd movie and all the other women are princesses from movies that got a theatrical release?
Silvermist was the most fun to be, because she's quirky & a little bit dumb. I didn't like being Pocahontas because she's pretty serious compared to my other two. Mulan's just a badass.
Do you know my co-worker Duke Pepin? He worked on the boats at Disney as a mechanic until he moved up here to Massachusetts.
I don't, but I heard he was a real Duke to people.
Do you have to be a certain dress size for a part?
If you look on disneyauditions.com, the description of most of the princesses is "slender build".
I just wanted to preface my answer of "yes" without seeming rude to anyone.
What's your reaction to teen boys ~16 being all excited about disneyworld/charecters? I ask because im tHere now and while I'm very excited I don't want to come off as a weirdo.
I think teens who are genuinely excited about meeting Disney characters are awesome. Anyone excited about meeting a character is awesome. It makes the job more fun & it's a good time to get creative with your story lines.
Where are you from originally?
I'm from Illinois, but I moved to Orlando to work at Disney in 2008.
Did the little kids ever touch your breasts?
I was Pocahontas & one little boy was sitting on my lap & touched my necklace & then pulled my dress down & my whole boob fell out & his mom gasped & i was like heh heh & spaghetti fell out of my wigwam
what are some cool facts/trivia about the parks?
why is epcot my favorite place ever?
- I really can't think of any right now. I'm sorry! I suck.
- Because alcohol
Good evening! Do you think this job has made you more tolerant of children overall? Or do you find it increasingly difficult to deal with them?? Also, where are you the most ticklish?? :D
Personally, this job made me realize that I love children.
Until they cry. Or poop. Or scream. Then, I am more than happy to hand them back. Kids say the funniest things though. I could go on forever on the ridiculous things children have said to me. In Mulan's break room, we have a list on the wall of the best things children have said.
Emoticons of a happy face will get you nowhere with my ticklish areas.
First, I'd like to say is that you're really pretty in your photos.
Anyways, my question to you is how do you prepare to assume all the personality quirks and the personas of the characters you must act as?
You're given extensive training! It's a couple of days long for each character.
Is Tinkerbell a man for the zip cord ride during the fireworks show at night?
NO STOP PERPETUATING THIS LIE!
Is this you?
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