I always wanted to work for Disney.
In 2009 my big dream became a reality. For two years I performed at one of the most incredible entertainment venues in the world; Walt Disney World. Those who have had the wonderful opportunity to bring beloved Disney characters to life know that magical moments like the ones portrayed in the Disney TV commercials do exist. Those moments are the ones we live for. But not every interaction is like that.
In character break rooms we often joked about how our job was like a course on how to become the worst parent on the planet. It has been two years since I left my magical job but a recent seasonal position as a character at another theme park reminded me of the way people feel the need to forget they have a brain when they interact with people in costumes. So I felt inspired to write this helpful (and maybe a wee bit sarcastic) guide to interacting with costume characters like a normal. human. being.
1. Wait your turn.
Running into someone else’s picture so you don’t have to wait in line is a perfect way to catch the face of a grumpy character in your photo. Also, now you have strangers in your picture with you. Creepy.
2. Be ready.
You know you are going to be taking a photo. How about pulling out your camera and turning it on before we all start smiling?
3. Don’t be a baby.
You are throwing a fit because you waited until the last minute to come take a photo and now you want us to stay even longer out on set and reward you for your bad behavior? No thanks.
Please don’t become a frozen statue once you walk up to us. Talk to us! You most likely just paid a load of money to have this experience so have it!
5. Know when to give up.
If you have to literally drag your crying toddler up to us maybe, just maybe it is not going to turn out to be the picture you hoped for. Stop wasting everyone’s time and don’t blame us for your child’s nightmares tonight.
6. Don’t ruin the magic.
If your child is afraid of a beautiful princess, telling them she isn’t “real” is only going to freak them out more. Your child isn’t going to be any more comfortable taking a picture with a stranger in a wig and makeup! And thank you for taking the fun out of it for everyone. You might as well tell them Santa Claus isn’t real either.
7. Take a good look.
We understand that you want a picture of just your baby with the character but trying to put them into the arms of someone who can’t even see their arms probably isn’t very wise.
8. Don’t EVER ask us this question:
“Is it hot in there?” No sir. Is it hot in your own skin? And thank you for so cleverly showing us that we can’t fool you.
9. Be respectful.
A person in a costume is STILL a person. Just because someone may not be dressed as a human doesn’t give you permission to treat them inhumanely.
And MOST importantly…
10. Don’t you dare for one second feel sorry for us.
We are perfectly aware that our job is to dress up in a costume and pretend. We love our job and the opportunity to inspire imagination and dreams every day. However, you are perfectly welcome to feel jealous.
Amanda is a post-graduate with an unhealthy addiction to working at theme parks. Her greatest loves are writing, singing in her car and eating cheese. Follow her adventures at wwww.thegirlinmotion.com and on Twitter.