"If you can dream it, you can do it" -Walt Disney When I was a little girl, nothing got me more excited than a Disney movie. Whether I had Belle's entrance song on repeat in an attempt to make my voice sound just like hers- or forcing my brother to dress up in full cowboy/girl gear with me and play Toy Story; I was always talking about and singing about Disney. Even as a teenager my dream was to work at the "Happiest Place on Earth" as a Disney princess or a dancer, or even as Minnie Mouse (she's precious)!!!
My sophomore year of college my mother (who always was on the lookout for audition opportunities for me) informed me of a Disney audition in Atlanta! I had auditioned for Disney my senior year of high school but wasn't old enough to really be hired yet so I was thrilled for this audition! I show up, dressed in my dress I wore for all auditions that year, headshot/resume ready, and song ready. I go to register and long story short- find out its not an equity audition but a character audition! Well- let's go for it! I run out and buy a pair of boxers from a nearby boutique, slip them on under my dress and do the audition! Two months later, I am driving my packed car to Orlando!
Being a Disney character is exactly what you would expect it to be- fun and HOT. Yes, very hot. Contrary to what you may have heard about the multi-billion dollar company- they do not pay to install fans in the suits. But the bright side to sweating your balls off is you only have to bear it for 20 minutes. Thats right- work for 20 minutes, on break for 40 minutes. Not a bad gig.
Outside of the heat, being masked as one of Disney's most lovable characters such as Pluto, Eeyore, and Flik has many rewards. To see the look on a kids face when they run up to hug their favorite Disney character is priceless. As Pluto especially, the kids would bring me signs they made and tell me how much they love me. One little boy came up, looking hesitant, and his mom said "You can tell him- you have waited all year to tell him...", the this boy lifted Pluto's ear (which is funny because really I heard everything through the opening in the mouth) and he said real quietly.."I went pee-pee in the potty! " LOL- how sweet is that that he wanted Pluto (aka: Cheryl from GA) to know of his accomplishment in the bathroom!
After some time, you get pretty comfortable in your new fur skin and you actually look forward to putting on that big head. Eeyore was the one character I wanted to play after a night out with the girls- I called him my "fur hangover remedy" because I could put him on and basically not move at all and stay in character. I finally got to a point where I didn't have to smile when a picture was taken considering you couldn't see my face anyway.
Crudely enough, (my friends won't be surprised by this statement), it was very freeing to be able to pass gas anytime I felt the need. Just let it out because either it will be trapped in the suit where I am the only one smelling it or it will get out and nobody's gonna blame it on the lovable character right beside them. Besides, the people will never know who you are- why not experience freedom for a while before you have to be a human again and hold it until you're alone or with your dog.
All in all, my year and a half at Disney playing all sorts of characters and actually getting the awesome opportunity to dance in a few parades and shows (where I actually got to show my face) was an amazing experience.
I lived on my own financially for the first time and learned so much independence. I am so thankful that I achieved my goal of working at what continues to be MY happiest place on earth! I can't wait to take my kids one day and watch them hug/kiss and tell their favorite characters about their accomplishments in the bathroom or outside the bathroom. Disney made my childhood dream come true for sure! Maybe now you all have a better perspective on the man/lady behind the suit- and maybe next time you won't blame the smell on dad!
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE DISNEY MEMORY?!
ABOUT THE BLOGGER:
My name is Cheryl Baraban and I love "Life in the Times..." I have known Z for almost 7 years- we were theatre majors in college together! I graduated college and got married (yay!) in 2010 and now I live in Athens, GA. Right now I am a waitress at the local Olive Garden (yes, yummy), and I also seasonally perform for Lake Lanier Islands. I love crafty projects and reality TV, and I'm kinda obsessed with my dog Tucker (seen in picture)! I also can't wait to meet baby Keelin!
Until next time...