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!
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!
Jeff can help you plan your perfect Disney vacation with Fairy Godmother Travel! Call him at 732-278-7404 or email him at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation quote for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani or Adventures By Disney.
Jeff also writes a MiceChat column titled The 626. We invite you to check it out!
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/ftmotm
SUBSCRIBE TO US ON ITUNES: iTunes – Podcasts – From The Mouth Of The Mouse by Jeff Heimbuch
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: www.twitter.com/jeffheimbuch
FRIEND ME ON FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/jeffheimbuch