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How to Become a Disney Character at Disney World
Do you love Disney? Even as an adult, there's no shame in loving everything from the Disney princesses to Pixar movies. Each year, millions of people of all ages and from all around the world visit Walt Disney World in Florida. They come to play on the rides, shop for Disney items and meet the Disney characters.
For many people, working at Disney where you can become one of your favorite characters would be an absolute dream. But, unlike the dreams of being rescued by a prince or having your toys come to life, this dream is a little more realistic. If you're interested in finding out how you can become a Disney character at Walt Disney World, there are a few requirements you'll have to meet and steps you'll have to take.
Disney Character Performers Vs. Disney Character Look-Alikes
If you're hoping to find a job as a character at Disney World, understand that there are two types of jobs. One is to work as a Disney character performer and the other is to work as a Disney character look-alike. These jobs are more or less the same in terms of the unique job requirements. But the job descriptions are a bit different. While the performers may actually be dancing, singing, acting and meeting with tourists, the look-alikes may simply march in the character parades and wave to onlookers.
Job Description and Salary
Most people who are interested in becoming a Disney character typically don't do it for the money. Yet, the job is much more than simply dressing up in costume and looking the part. Those who want to become a Disney character will also need to:
- Appear for meet and greets.
- Be comfortable performing in front of thousands of people.
- Pose for pictures.
- Walk in parades and special events.
- Sign autographs.
- Be comfortable wearing a costume in hot and humid weather.
- Resemble the character's appearance.
- Be patient in working with diverse families, including, but not limited to, children with special needs and families that speak other languages.
This is a job, and like any job, you can expect to be paid for your time. In Disney World in Florida and Disney Land in California, the reported salary is around $10 to $12 an hour. While this pay is more than minimum wage, which is $8.46 in Florida, it would be around the minimum wage in California, which for 2019 is $12 an hour. This is something to consider before applying as a character performer.
Though there are sometimes part-time or seasonal jobs available, Disney is typically looking for candidates who can commit to a full year, full-time contract, and relocation packages may be available depending on the role.
Be Open to Working at Other Disney Parks
If you want to become a Disney character, it might be a good idea to consider applying for work in one of the many Disney parks around the world. Currently, there are six Disney parks located in: Florida and California in the U.S.; Tokyo, Japan; Paris, France; Hong Kong; and Shanghai, China. There is also the Aulani Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, as well as Disney Cruise Lines. In addition to working your dream job, you'll also get to live in another country. That's a fantasy in itself.
Disney Costumed Characters Behind the Scenes
Disney costumed characters have many different job responsibilities. If you've been to Disney, then you've probably seen these characters greeting visitors, posing for pictures with tourists, signing autographs and in general, bringing a lot of positive energy to the park. A good character can make a positive impact on a person's visit to Disney. But, have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes?
Just like everyone else, the Disney characters are working. Behind the scenes, they interact with coworkers and go on lunch breaks. They relax and change costumes or fix their makeup. After a break, it's necessary that Disney characters take a minute to gather themselves before heading back out because Disney characters may not break their character no matter what. Though this can create some pressure, there's nothing like the magic of working at Disney!
Meet the Requirements of a Disney Character
Once you're sure that you want to audition to become a Disney character, you'll first have to meet certain requirements. For example, one of the strictest requirements is the Disney character height requirement, which can vary depending on the role and the park. But, in general, Disney has the same requirements for all their characters:
- Must be 18 years of age.
- Must be authorized to work in the United States.
- The height requirement varies greatly depending on the character. Generally, if you're between 4 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 3 inches tall, you can find a job.
- Typically, you'll have to have a slender and/or athletic build.
- You must resemble the character in some way, especially looks, height and personality.
- High energy levels.
- Basic coordination with music.
- Strong movement abilities.
- Be in good physical shape.
- Strong acting abilities or at least some experience in acting.
You can visit the Disney Careers website to see the different character jobs and the specific requirements for those jobs in addition to these general requirements. You may learn that you're a better fit for one job over another, especially if height is a concern.
Schedule Your Disney Audition
After taking a look at the different jobs available for Disney characters, schedule your audition. The Disney Careers website has information about where auditions will be held. For example, for character positions at Walt Disney World, there are auditions held in Kissimmee, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Round Rock, Texas, just to name a few locations. Auditions for jobs in parks around the world are often held in the U.S., but Disneyland Paris auditions are typically held in France.
Auditions are open to the general public and are usually six months out. You'll have to create a profile on the Disney Careers website and make sure it's updated before the audition. Wear comfortable clothing as you'll have to perform a movement routine, so no sandals or flip-flops. Lastly, make sure that you are on time for your audition or you will not be allowed in.
Apply for Different Types of Disney Jobs
Luckily, there are often many auditions being held for those who are interested in landing a job as a Disney character, especially as the high season approaches. Therefore, if you are not successful at one audition, you can try again at another. And, even though you may be set on one character, consider being open to working as a different character if the judges think you'd be a better fit.
If for some reason the auditions are not working out in your favor, then consider applying for different Disney jobs that still offer the opportunity to work at your favorite park, for example:
- Musical acts
- Parade Performers
- Variety Acts
Of course, you can also apply for work at one of the ticket counters, gift shops, restaurants or hotels at the various Disney parks and resorts. There are many ways to work at Disney, and if you're determined enough, you'll find the perfect job for you – even if it's not as a character.
Hana LaRock has been a content writer for more than five years. As part of her work as a contributor to numerous websites, Hana enjoys helping people find a new path in their lives, whether it involves editing a resume or providing information on finding work abroad.
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