Danielle Becomes Friends With Some Real Characters

Written by Jeff Heimbuch. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features, From the Mouth of the Mouse

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Published on July 10, 2013 at 12:01 am with 6 Comments

In today’s Mouth Of The Mouse, we talk to Danielle, who was friends with quite a few characters during her time at Disneyland! Let’s hear her stories of great character!


JEFF: So tell me a bit about how you fell in love with Disney to begin with!

DANIELLE: I have a ton of childhood memories from Disney. We used to go once a year when I was growing up. Then I had an annual pass all throughout middle school and high school. I always said I was going to be Minnie Mouse when I was younger, and funny enough, dreams CAN come true!

JEFF: How did you get into the role of characters? Did you audition?

DANIELLE: Prior to Disney, I was a character in a show at Knott’s Berry Farm for about 7 years. So, I already knew I loved being a character. I’d grown up being a performer, so that helped. I saw the audition notice randomly posted on disneyauditions.com, and, on a whim, decided to go. I wasn’t aware how to become a character at Disneyland prior to that, so it was an interesting experience to go through. I did audition. But the entire day, I was terribly sick. Very, very sick! And not to mention the fact that it was a long, long, long day! I would guess I was there for about 9 hours. But ultimate, it paid off.

JEFF: What characters did you wind up with?

DANIELLE: I was a “friend of” Daisy Duck, Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, and Lilo. Quite a mix, right?



JEFF: What do you mean by “friend of.”

DANIELLE: To protect the magic for any children who might overhear you, we were instructed to never talk about playing the role of a character. Instead, we’d talk about being the “friend of . . .” whatever character we portrayed.

JEFF: What was a typical day like for you as one of the characters?

DANIELLE: There really wasn’t a typical day, honestly.

Luckily, I was full time, which, at the time, meant you got to choose your “block” (your weekly schedule) yourself. So, every Monday, I was at this certain location as Minnie with the same hours. So, I did have typical days in some way. I’d come in to work, always earlier than my shift actually started. You have to check out all of your costume pieces before getting dressed, and that took a while. Then, you’d get changed into your “under dressings” (which varied for each of the roles you were playing). It consisted of black tights, black leotard, head scarf, hood, and shorts for most characters, though. After that you had to go ‘stretch and flex,’ to make sure everything on you would move correctly and not bunch up the costume. Then you’d sign in and do your 10 minutes of stretching exercises. And finally, you’d go off to your location.

JEFF: Any times you can think of that you went out of your way to make a guest’s visit more magical?

DANIELLE: I could usually do something magical when I was working a shift at the character breakfast at the Paradise Pier hotel. I had this shift 4 times a week as Daisy. A family was staying at the hotel and had breakfast there every day. So, you get to know them. This particular family’s youngest daughter was terrified of characters. She would wave at me from far away, but any closer, and she wasn’t having it! As the week progressed, she warmed up to me in particular. I went out of my way to try to ease her fears. By the end of their trip, she was sitting on my lap taking pictures. I was the only character she would see. I heard the next day someone else was Daisy, and the little girl was scared of her. Crazy that somehow she knew that it wasn’t me! But I have so many other stories that it’s hard to narrow it down!

JEFF: How about telling us just one more really good one?

DANIELLE: This story is more heartfelt than fun, but I was Daisy out in the park. That in itself was a rare occurrence, as not many people were approved to play her.

I had this little girl come up to me that was so excited because she never had met Daisy before, and she was her absolute favorite. I spent a good amount of time with her, even though the line was long. About a minute after she left, her dad came up to me and said with tears in his eyes “Thank you so much for being here. We come to Disneyland all the time, and all my daughter has wanted to do is meet you. You just made our world.” So incredible to make such an impact on a family like that. And to see her dad cry because I had made his daughter so happy brought tears to my eyes as well!

A big thank you to Danielle for sharing the rest of his story with us! 

By Jeff Heimbuch

If you are, or know, a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and possibly be featured right here on MiceChat, please email me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!

You can read older columns of From The Mouth Of The Mouse here! 

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About Jeff Heimbuch

Jeff has been in love with all things Disney since a very early age. He writes From The Mouth Of The Mouse and The 626 every week for MiceChat. He also collaborates on The Disney Review every weekend. Aside from that, he is one half of the devastatingly good looking duo of the weekly vid/podcast Communicore Weekly (the other half being fellow MiceChat columnist George Taylor), which you can find at www.communicoreweekly.com Jeff is also writing a book with former Imagineer and Disney Legend, Rolly Crump. You can find out more about the book at www.itskindofacutestory.com

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Comments for Danielle Becomes Friends With Some Real Characters are now closed.

  1. I wondered the same thing as well. Obviously to be Goofy one has to be taller but other than size why couldn’t anyone be Daisy. Also, how do they keep cool or at least not overheat?

  2. Love these kinds of interviews with personal stories. My wife and I were in Disneyland one year and Brer Bear slid down the banister in the little alcove in New Orleans Square. My wife asked if Brer Bear would dance with her. Brer Bear put his arms around her to dance, but he had them positioned as a girl holds a guy while dancing. She asked “Brer Bear, are you a girl?” Brer Bear went over to the steps, put his head on a step and hid his eyes LOL! The cast members playing characters are special wonderful.

  3. Those were some awesome stories about the little kids.

  4. When I was younger, one of my “dream jobs” was to be a “friend of” a Disney character, especially Tigger since he’s my favorite. I still think it would be a ton of fun but the thought of wearing that costume in the summer heat made me think twice. So I have a LOT of respect for the cast members who do this every day.

    Now when I’m at the parks, I think I have more fun with the characters than when I was a kid. My turn in line comes and I’m suddenly 5 again and for that moment, those characters are REAL. Even as an adult, meeting the characters can be a special experience. I’m STILL laughing about the time Tigger “proposed” to me at Epcot earlier this year (whoever the CM was apparently recognized me from my monthly visits to the parks). He even signed my autograph book “To Fiancee”! It was the funniest thing ever!

  5. Minnie Mouse made my daughter’s 16th birthday so very special on 9/9/08. Since you’re such a good friend of Minnie, please give her our thanks, Danielle. :)

    We love the characters!!!!!!

  6. Very interesting look beyond the ears. Thanks for sharing! I have to wonder though, how does one meet the qualifications for being a particular character.