If you'd like to preserve the magical guest experience at the Disney theme parks I suggest you stop reading now. Hi there! this is me and it's nice to meet you. I worked at Walt Disney World for over twenty-five years! I was a Bandit, Gangster and Tour Guide at the Great Movie Ride, sold merchandise in a few stores, worked in Guest Services at the Polynesian (couldn't find any pics) then Guest Relations as a Tour Guide but in 1996 I transferred to the Character department and I never looked back! I know you guys are big on proof so look at this then look at this. Oh, here's some MEGA proof. Just for fun, here's a pic of me teaching the "official" Disney Princess Wave and playing before parade, me in the Mickey Mania Parade and here's me in the airport bringing in a plane for a press event!

I'll answer any questions you might have unless they get too personal or weird (I know reddit) so go ahead! Ask Me Anything!

Edit: Oh. My. God. I've been on this thing since this morning. Y'all gotta ease up a bit! I will try to answer all your questions but it may take a few days. There are a lot of you! SUPER EDIT! I'm going to stop answering questions now but I'll be answering as many as I can later in the evening. I'd like to shout out to all the current and former characters that are giving me so much love. I miss you guys.

Edit the Third: Thanks for the golden nuggets. I'll be headed up to the Lounge (which may or may not exist) soon. Edit the Fourth: Changed my mind and started to answer some more. :)

Comments: 12822 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

purplehp19931 karma

Do you smile in the costume when you're taking photos with other people?

Ihaveanotheridentity5776 karma

Almost every time.

lucas_praado13575 karma

Any good stories about your magical moments? In 20 years surely you got some good ones...

Ihaveanotheridentity86171 karma

I have one moment that stands out above all the rest. I was waiting for someone to ask me this question. It's the reason I left a good job as a VIP Tourguide and moved to the Character Department.

I was working City Hall one day when two guests came in with two little girls. One was in a wheel chair and the other one looked like she had just seen death. Both were cut and bruised and the one in the wheelchair had her arm in a cast. The two women were actually nurses from a hospital and were asking for a refund on the girl's tickets, something we avoided doing at all costs. When I asked why they told me the story. The two girls were with their mom and dad at Epcot and on the way home they got into a horrible car accident. The mother was beheaded right in front of them. The father eventually died too but the two girls didn't know that yet. They were from overseas and had no money and no contact information for anyone they knew. They were bringing the tickets back to get the girls some much needed money to help get them back home. My heart absolutely sunk. If you had seen these girls you'd know why. They were truly traumatized. I refunded their tickets and got permission to be their private tour guide for the rest of the day (which they were not expecting). I walked them to the VIP viewing area for the parade which was as far as I could walk them in the costume we used to wear at City Hall. I had to leave them there while I put on my VIP costume. On the way down I pulled out every kid joke I could think of. I was a REALLY good tour guide (I helped write part of it) and I knew how to make kids smile. Nothing worked. These girls were too far gone for that. I left them at the bridge to go change, walked backstage and bawled my eyes out. I just had never seen something so horrible. I was truly affected and it was a terrible feeling of powerlessness not being able to fix the situation. When I came back I brought them to get ice-cream, take them on rides and stuff but they never smiled, not once. The nurses were loving it and were trying to get them into it but it just wasn't working. We went back to the bridge to watch the parade. It was there that I honestly saw true magic. Real magic, not bullshit. I had called the parade department to let them know what was going on and set up a private meet and greet after the parade. As the parade was coming around Liberty Square I told the girls that I had called Mickey and told them all about them. I told them that Mickey asked to meet them after the parade.

The little girl in the wheelchair smiled.

"Really?" she asked. My heart skipped. "Yes, really! He told me to tell you to look out for him in the parade and to follow the float back to City Hall."

The other girl smiled.

"You mean right now?" she asked.

It had worked. They were talking. Not laughing, but talking. It was the first time I had heard them speak. Every single parade performer came up to them on the bridge and told them to look out for Mickey. Every one of them told them that. When Mickey's float came up Mickey (who was attached to a pole at the top of the float) managed to turn her body sideways, look down at the girls and point towards Main Street. That was all it took. The girls were excited now. They had forgotten about death. They were lost in a magical world and I couldn't believe I was watching it unfold in front of my eyes. We followed that float all the way back to City Hall, singing "Mickey Mania" the whole way. Back then, City Hall used to have a VIP lounge behind the desk that was for privacy during difficult situations or to host celebrities. I took them in and showed them the book where all of the autographs were. They were eating it up.

The girl who was Mickey that day (K.T., I will always love you for this) got down off her float and without even taking her head off walked up to me backstage and said "Let's go." I walked in with Mickey behind me so I got to see the exact moment the girls met their new friend. They got shy but Mikey was in control now. Those girls met the REAL Mickey Mouse that day. Every single parade character stayed dressed to meet those girls. One by one they'd come in and play a bit then leave. We were in that lounge for over an hour. Mickey stayed in costume the entire time (which is hard to do after a parade). When Mickey finally said goodbye I had two excited girls on my hands that couldn't stop smiling. They talked and talked and talked. We had a wonderful day after that but what I remember most is when we walked by the rose garden, the older one said "Oh, my mommy loves roses! I mean..." and she stopped. I held out my hand and walked her to the gate, picked her up and put her on the other side and said "Pick one!" She looked happy as she picked out her favorite rose. She didn't say anything more and she didn't need to. I said goodbye to the wonderful nurses and the wonderful girls then walked backstage behind the train station. This time I didn't cry. It felt so good to be a part of that. I realized that as much as I liked helping guests at City Hall, the true magic of Disney was in the character department. I auditioned, transferred and never looked back. Thanks for letting me relive this. It was a special day for me.

BertManigert6660 karma

Is it true that someone gets fired if two of the same characters appear in the same area of the park?

Ihaveanotheridentity8667 karma

It would depend on the situation. I've met my double on set by accident a few times over the years (it happens to the best of us) but it was just that, an accident. The only way someone would get fired (I'm only guessing here) is if they did it on purpose.

aaronp6135812 karma

how do you survive on really hot days?

Ihaveanotheridentity9609 karma

Practice actually. It was absolute torture the first month (and especially the first parade) but after a few months I got used to it and after a few years I would forget I had the costume on.

tumorman5202 karma

Any good stories of playing Goofy around the time "A Goofy Movie" came out?

Bonus question: Have you ever met Powerline?

Ihaveanotheridentity8436 karma

Oh. My. God.

The first time some kid asked me to do the Perfect Cast I had no idea what he was talking about so I faked it. The kid didn't buy it but luckily I had an escort (that's what they called attendants back in the day) tell the kid that I already forgot it (which is bullshit if you watch the movie). They don't prepare you for details like that in training. You're just supposed to figure it out yourself. Never met Powerline unfortunately.

Blakesta4444289 karma

Is that dog in the picture a good boy?

Ihaveanotheridentity6212 karma

That's my dog Max (named after Goofy's son). He's a very good boy. :)

Mozziewine4237 karma

Why did you quit ?

Ihaveanotheridentity13295 karma

I was fired. To make a complicated story short, Donald Duck was, as usual, being a jerk and wouldn't leave my area because I had signed "Luv, Goofy" right over the bill of a Donald Duck hat. He threw a temper tantrum and as I was dragging him across the floor to get him back to his position a little kid ran out from behind the curtain at Pete's Silly Sideshow and we knocked her on her butt. The kid was fine and no one complained but Disney didn't really appreciate me dragging the costume on the carpeted floor so they terminated me.

wargod_war3006 karma

After 20 years, you were fired over that? Was it a full on fight lol?

Ihaveanotheridentity5774 karma

That's a long and painful story. Disney still has no idea the pain and trauma that caused. There were other reasons I think I was not brought back, one of them being terrible legal advise from a lawyer I sought out before my final arbitration. I was also sort of a whistle-blower and I think that played a big role.

jdmisten3820 karma

what were your coworkers like? is everyone filled with the disney spirit, or do people hate their jobs there like any other job?

Ihaveanotheridentity7373 karma

It's really like any other job. I went through phases myself. At first, every time I farted Pixie Dust ® would blow out of my butt but after several years I got kind of bitter. It was all management stuff though. On set I was fine and loved it but backstage stress got to me for a while and I was big on holding Disney accountable. After about 10 years though I calmed down. I loved every single minute while on set (for the most part) and some of my co-workers will be friends for life. You get out of it what you put into it.

BKNorton33810 karma

What is the weirdest request that a visitor ever asked you to do?

Ihaveanotheridentity9789 karma

A guy once asked me to choke him for a picture (I didn't). That's a hard one because guests routinely do stupid weird things. I think the worst of them is when people bring their newborn infants to the parks and ask us to hold them for a picture. I can't see shit in Goofy let alone other costumes and I'm wearing giant gloves or paws or whatever depending on what character I am. Why would you let me hold your baby? Yeesh!

Out_of_the_corner3204 karma

What's the strangest thing you saw in the back of house areas?

Ihaveanotheridentity6911 karma

Oh my god I could go on for days about that. One thing that stands out was a special event where they needed 16 Mickeys all set out in various rooms and seeing all of them backstage was really weird.

joshanaitor2858 karma

Hey there worst and best customer experience you ever had?

Ihaveanotheridentity11205 karma

Ugh. Worst guest experience? It's a tie between having my life threatened at a Grad Night party one time and one time I had to tell a guest that their son was in jail for stealing from one of the stores and she did not take it very well. Best guest experience? I've got too many to mention. One that stands out is when I was working at Mickey's Character Spot at Epcot. There was an older gentleman that came up in the queue but didn't come see me, he just sort of stood in the back and watched me for a while. After about 20 minutes he came up to me and said "Goofy, I had a special friend that would want you to have this." In Goofy you have to look down in order to make it look like Goofy is looking at you so I couldn't see him but I heard him holding back the tears. He was shaking a bit but he gave me a hug anyway. I will never forget that hug. It was one of those hugs that last with you. He was crying in my arms. He had given me this which is a pin they give to family members or friends of POWs and MIAs. It's become one of my most prized possessions.

Poop_sauce1664 karma

my life threatened at a Grad Night party one time

This is reddit, you can't just leave it at that. we need details.

Ihaveanotheridentity878 karma

My job that night was to check receipts at the door of the Emporium to make sure kids weren't stealing shit. One kid was walking out with a hat (he was a BIG kid) and when I grabbed it off his head he pushed me up against the wall and said "Touch me again and I'll fucking gut you". I just smiled and said "Be safe tonight".

Deadlifted2763 karma

Do you prefer parents playing it straight or interacting with you "in character" so to speak?

Ihaveanotheridentity4459 karma

For the most part I appreciated when parents would stay in character. I hated when people would tell their kids "It's just a guy in a suit, don't be scared", which scares the kids even more. What I didn't like was when they would drill me with trivia questions and make me act out the answers. That used to be fun in the old days but toward the end we had to see as many guests as possible and there was always pressure from management to go faster and faster.

realitycheck172569 karma

What, exactly, is goofy?

Ihaveanotheridentity5430 karma

He's an anthropomorphic dog. Yes, we get that question a lot.

Guyra2342 karma

What is your favorite memory working there?

Ihaveanotheridentity13598 karma

(sigh) I can't really figure that out. I've tried to answer that question a hundred times but I can never pinpoint a specific moment that stands out from the rest. I have a few tear jerkers, a few laugh out loud moments, and a few horror stories. One that does stand out was at Give Kids The World which is where all the Make-a-Wish kids stay when they come to Disney (truly a magical spectacular place). A woman came up with her son who was born with a birth defect that meant he had no muscles in his neck. He looked REALLY bad and his head had to be supported by his mom. This was a special circumstance. The kid's wish was to be held by Goofy. That's it. Just to be held. The mother told me that because of his "life problems" everyone is afraid to even touch him. She laid him very carefully in my arms (sitting on the ground) and let go. We rocked back and forth on that floor for what seemed forever. It was one of the times where I forgot I had the costume on and I just cried and cried. He was such a special kid. I'll never forget that.

carnageraiser2336 karma

Ever bang someone in the costume?

Ihaveanotheridentity4328 karma

No, and contrary to popular belief there aren't many furries in the character department. I know there are a few (I knew one of them) but it's not something that's out in the open for sure.

Caturday_Yet2171 karma

Are the stereotypes about people who play different characters true?

Ihaveanotheridentity5904 karma

If you're talking about the "face" performers the answer is yes and no. Some of the break rooms are like the high school cafeteria where the "cool" princesses (elsa and anna) sit on one side and make eyes at the "old" characters (snow and poppins). It's really childish. Other face performers think they're on Broadway and demand respect and they hate not getting it. But those are extreme cases of a few bitches. For the most part the face performers are as much a character as any of us. Some of them are the sweetest people I've ever met in my life.

playsta4gta42126 karma

What's the worst child/adult tantrum you've witnessed?

Ihaveanotheridentity4176 karma

I once saw an adult beat the absolute living shit out of a pre-teen boy on set as the Queen of Hearts. We're told never to interact when something like that happens so I had to leave. I've seen tons and tons of guests lose their shit in Guest Relations, particularly when it involved people not getting their way. I wish I had a camera sometimes. I would get so much delicious karma from /r/PublicFreakout

Norris6671771 karma

Are the Disney Corporation really as cold-heartedly capitalist as the adult me has been lead to believe?

Ihaveanotheridentity4098 karma

Yes and no. Disney has lost their focus and the old Disney Cast Members that held those old company values have all retired but Disney is a great company to work for regardless. I can give you an example of how corporate Disney has taken over what I like to call Traditional Disney. The place where all of the characters used to break was called the Zoo. Everyone knew the characters as The Zoo Crew. If you wanted a character you either called the head room or the Zoo. It was a Disney tradition and everyone got a kick out of it. Then this guy named David (who was the Entertainment Vice President) came in and didn't think that sounded too professional so he changed the name to the Base. Eventually all the Zoo signs came down and were replaced. The Zoo disappeared and it got sterile really quick. We used to have nice big couches to relax on and David had them all thrown out and replaced by metal chairs. A part of the character department died that day. Anyway, they're way too concerned with "numbers" now. We used to just stroll the parks and play with people but in the end we were all held accountable to see as many guests as we possibly could during our sets. They HOUND you to go faster and faster. They figure 23 seconds (a number I pulled out of my butt mind you but I know it's under 30) is plenty of time to see a family of 4. I turned into an autograph machine towards the end but I always stayed true to my character. A lot of performers don't do that anymore. It's sad.

WilmoreROFL1719 karma

What was the pay like? Must not have been too bad!

Ihaveanotheridentity4001 karma

Well, I had 25 years of seniority but only made about 15 bucks an hour. Because Florida is a right-to-work state the Union is pretty much impotent there. It's not like California, they get paid WAY more.

HAWAll1615 karma

What is the weirdest story of one of your coworkers getting fired? What did they get fired for?

Ihaveanotheridentity3994 karma

Well, the worst I personally saw was in the 90's when Fantasyland Character Festival was still around which was the old queue for 20K Leagues Under the Sea. One of our greeters (that's what they called them then, they're attendants now) was a trans woman (that wasn't fooling anyone) and the police came and picked her up backstage. Evidently she was the father of a missing child and she was hiding out at Disney. Fucked up huh? There was also the infamous Michael Chartrand case who was the Tigger that felt up one of the guests. That was a really embarrassing blemish for Disney. It was on the front page of the Orlando Sentinel which is plopped down on everyone's doorstep at Disney (in the premium resorts anyway). He got his job back (there was a totally bizarre court case. His lawyer actually dressed up as Tigger to give the closing arguments) but he was fired a few years later for allegedly doing the same thing to one of the photographers.

cruciger1486 karma

Did you like Walt Disney World when you started this job? Do you still like it? What's your favourite thing at the parks that isn't around any more?

Ihaveanotheridentity2636 karma

Loved it then and I love it now. I would have to say the "Hidden Mickey" at the Disney / MGM Studios. The actual park used to make a giant mickey mouse when seen from an airplane. Echo Lake (where Gertie's is) made his right ear and the place where that horrible hat was made up the nose. All of the expansions tore it all to shreds though. :( There are a LOT of attractions I miss terribly though. Horizons was such a peaceful ride (and cool as shit) and Journey into Imagination with the original figment had so many amazing tricks in it. I miss Delta Dream Flight and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride a lot too.

unknownfy241288 karma

What is your favorite Disney movie?

Ihaveanotheridentity2939 karma

Tough call. I'm really partial to the Little Mermaid because of Ursula but I think all in all it has to be Ratatouille. That movie has some of my all time favorite quotes, especially Anton Ego's (sp?) speech at the end of the film. I also loved Dumbo (as racist as it was) but that's because Timothy Q Mouse is probably my favorite character of all.

Jadziyah1118 karma

Where do you go in your career from here?

Ihaveanotheridentity3424 karma

That's how this whole AMA started. I made a comment in /r/adviceanimals in response to someone who was frustrated they were 30 and making a career change. I'm 46 now. I have zero job skills other than making people laugh. I never thought I'd ever do anything else so I'm stuck. Maybe working with troubled teens or some other kind of service work. I just want to find something that gives me as much passion as Disney did, which is hard.

itwasntme69ing1082 karma

Could you speak to people while in costume? Can you do a good goofy voice impersonation?

Ihaveanotheridentity3195 karma

We are NOT ALLOWED TO EVER TALK IN COSTUME IN FRONT OF GUESTS. EVER. Backstage however, anything goes. I used to love telling dirty jokes to unsuspecting new hires. I do have a good Goofy laugh but it took me years to perfect.

Azuya1066 karma

If Goofy and Pluto are both dogs then how come Pluto has to live in a dog house while Goofy plays golf with Mickey?

Ihaveanotheridentity3626 karma

Goofy is better at golf.

Princess_Parvo806 karma

Would you rather fight one hundred Donald-sized Philippes or one Philippe-sized Donald's?

Ihaveanotheridentity1761 karma

The former. Donald is a tiny bitch.

Commanderluna706 karma

What is the funniest thing you've ever seen someone dressed as their character say (Like someone in costume saying something that sounds ridiculous cause they said it in character)?

Ihaveanotheridentity1805 karma

"I just farted" - Cinderella

Flourish_and_Blotts348 karma

In what ways have the parks changed during the 25 years you've worked there? Have you ever broken character while working as Goofy?

Ihaveanotheridentity877 karma

The parks have grown since I started (actually, there were only three when I started) but the real change has been in the management. They lost something when Michael Eisner took over. For example, the park used to close at 6PM on Christmas eve so that the cast could be with their families. They used to close the park and have Christmas parties just for us. We were allowed to ride the rides in our costumes and do things we wouldn't normally do for the day guests. They don't do that anymore. They're open until 2AM and open up early the next day. There's an atmosphere that's just gone now. The new management (I mean after 9/11 specifically) is very concerned about the bottom line (read: money). That's not just me being bitter, that's shown in everything they do. For example, there are very few (and I mean a handful) character managers that were actually characters. That used to be unheard of. As far as breaking character, only a few times when the circumstances warranted it. They were far in between. :)

gwaki272 karma

What is the worst thing that you ever saw happen to a guest at Disney?

Ihaveanotheridentity960 karma

Wow, I have so many... I've answered some of this in the comments above but one thing that stands out was an emergency park dump one Forth of July in '95. There was a weird power glitch and all of the attractions went down at the same time and had to be evacuated. When they do the Fire Code estimates of how many people can be in the park at one time it is assumed that people will be in the rides. The Fourth of July is one of the park's busiest days of the year. Everyone dumped into the common areas of the park and it became dangerously crowded. One guest freaked out and pulled out something sharp and started stabbing guests to get out. I had to bring a stabbed guest back to her hotel to get her ID so she could go to the hospital. I'd never been so thankful to get off the desk in City Hall. That was a nightmare.

HereComesPapaArima107 karma

How did you manage the Goofy chuckles?

Ihaveanotheridentity240 karma

I loved every single time someone would try to do it. Only once was I impressed (I mean totally).