Today’s cast member interview is with Angela, who has worked a wide variety of roles at the Walt Disney World resort over the past few years. From the College Program to a full time employee, Angela has made magic all over the “World,” and I’m sure you’ll enjoy her story!
JEFF: Tell me a bit about how you got into Disney to begin with. Was it a lifelong love?
ANGELA: My parents took my sister and me to see all the Disney movies theatrical rereleases when we were little, but the first Disney movie I remember really getting into was Oliver and Company when I was 7. I went to see it within the same week as my first trip to Disneyland (I lived in Burbank, CA at the time). Then, a year later, The Little Mermaid hit theaters, and I went absolutely nuts over it. We saw it in the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, and I remember standing outside the doors to the theater counting down the seconds until they let us in. I wore my soundtrack out. By middle school, I was a self-proclaimed Disney fanatic who always had Disney school folders, sketched characters on my book covers and notebooks, and walked around singing the songs.
JEFF: So it was only natural that you would wind up working there. How did you go about doing that?
ANGELA: I knew about the WDW college program when I was still in high school, and I applied for the summer program after my freshman year of college. They turned me down….so during the fall semester of my sophomore year, I tried again. This time I got offered a merchandise role in Tomorrowland for the spring 2001 session. Afterwards, I went back to school, graduated with a BA in theater, and decided to return to Florida to work for the mouse again.
JEFF: Between your time in the college program and after graduation, you held a few different roles. Tell us a little bit about what you did.
ANGELA: During my college program, I worked all the shops and carts in Tomorrowland including the hat shop Geiger’s Counter, which is now a Vacation Club stand. I was trained on the sewing machines to stitch names on mouse ears. When I returned after graduation, I auditioned for entertainment. I didn’t make it, and since I had to wait 6 months to try again, I agreed to a seasonal position in Adventureland, working as an attractions hostess at the rotation that included the Enchanted Tiki Room, Aladdin’s Magic Carpets, and The Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. I applied to go fulltime, and ended up at Animal Kingdom that fall, working at Camp Minnie Mickey as well as The Tree of Life attractions. When my 6 months were up, I auditioned again, and this time I got it. I worked in entertainment for over 3 years as a character and parade performer. Then Disney announced that the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique was opening a new location inside Cinderella Castle and looking for new Fairy Godmothers in Training. I decided to give it a shot and was offered a position in the opening team where I remained until this past January when I moved to Silicon Valley with my new husband who was hired to be a software engineer there.
JEFF: Now, again, I know you had a lot of different roles while you worked there, but can you tell us a bit about what each one entailed?
ANGELA: On my college program, I basically worked the cash registers. I liked it best when it wasn’t overly busy, and I could actually have conversations with people. I rotated to several different positions throughout the day, various carts plus the shops; Merchants of Venice, the arcade by Space Mountain, Mickey’s Star Traders, Geiger’s Counter and Usa’s Major Minor Mart. I’d stay in each place about 2 hours and then get bumped. I enjoyed sewing the names on the mouse ears. We used these old machines from the 70s in which you had to pull down hard on this crank and circle it around to make the letters. Nowadays it’s all automatic as far as I can tell, but back then they were still manual. It took a lot of practice. The guests were always so amazed. I had one lady ask if I had to stitch the name upside down and backwards! (I flipped the hats inside out to fit them under the sewing needle.) It could be frustrating though. Some guests were not happy with how I formed the letters. There was at least one occasion in which I had to have a guest draw out what they wanted the letter to look like in script!
Adventureland attractions had the same rotation set up- you’d rotate to the various positions within each attraction. I might be grouping the riders into their vehicles, pushing the button to start a ride or show, standing outside the tree house greeting people and making sure no one brought in food, interacting with auto-animatronic birds, etc. I liked working the Tiki Room because it meant going inside to the air conditioning, even at the expense of watching the show over and over. I also liked doing the spiels because I have a background in theater. The Tiki Room often got mistaken for a restaurant, or guests would think it was closed because of the Under New Management sign.
At Animal Kingdom, my main role was as an usher at The Festival of The Lion King. This time, the rotation involved several positions inside the theater. Each section had a CM in charge, and there were also outdoor positions at the entryway and helping with strollers. Some days, I ended up watching the show as many as 7 times! It was hard not to dance around when I was supposed to be watching the guests for safety concerns. My favorite thing to do was lead the hand jive which we taught the audience to do during the tumble monkey scene. I liked to pick kids to help me demonstrate. One time, I picked this adorable, happy, giggly 4 year old girl dressed as Alice. She was more interested in spinning around with me than doing the hand jive! I also rotated to positions within Pocahontas and her Forest Friends.
The Tree of Life rotation had positions all over the tree- podium, strollers, inside the theater, etc. I hated the stinkbug part of the show and always covered my nose in anticipation of it when I was positioned inside the theater. But I loved watching the audience react to the surprise at the end! It’s funny- people always rant about how that show is too scary for little kids, and indeed, we had CMs posted at the exits with a flashlight and a “bug bag” with crayons and activity sheets for any hastily exiting scared child. However, I have seen 3 year olds who loved it and 10 year olds who were terrified. It really depends on the kid.
Working in entertainment was quite a unique experience. I can’t go into too much detail as Disney is very particular about character integrity, and I don’t want to burn any bridges. I was best buddies mainly with Chip and Dale, but I could be seen hanging out with others too such as Winnie the Pooh, Gideon, King Louie, Mr. Penguin, the mice from Cinderella, a couple of the taller dwarfs, and on one occasion even Bullseye the horse. The day usually consisted of stopping in the costuming room for our things, doing warm up stretches, and heading to our set location. They usually greet people 6-8 times a day. Everyone always asks if it’s hot- of course the characters are hot. They have fur coats! But don’t worry- they get a lot of rest and a lot of water. In fact, a bigger problem is weight- Pooh Bear is not a bear of little girth! The Chipmunks were a ball to hang out with. When I was with them, their favorite gag was to turn their backs to the camera whenever a family was calling to the kids to turn around towards it. The reaction would be a big “Not you, silly!” Dale also loved to stick pens behind his nose and balance an autograph book on his face.
the next best thing to being there!
A day at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique generally meant arriving and then helping other fairy godmothers in training with makeup and nails until a chair became available. Once I had a chair, a young princess would be led there and introduced to me. I’d show her the brochure featuring each hairstyle and have her point to the one she wanted. Then she would choose the colors of her accessories- each hairstyle comes with different items- a tiara and Mickey barrette, colored hair extensions and sparkly bobby pins, or a funky colored hair piece with Mickey bling clips and a bracelet. As I started styling her hair, I’d have a conversation with her and ask where she is from, how old she is, who is her favorite princess, etc. Each princess took about half an hour, and I would work with one little princess after another throughout the day. I loved when they were genuinely excited. They didn’t see themselves until the very end- after they’ve been sashed and doused with pixie dust. Among my favorite reactions- jumping up and down, screaming with joy, hands flying to her face, jaw dropping, calling out “I’m beautiful!” bouncing feet….you always knew a girl was thrilled if her feet were going. I met so many different personalities- the gigglers (ones who don’t say a whole lot, but they smile and giggle at everything), the silly billies (the ones who say random silly things and crack themselves up- like the girl who decided the phrase goes “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, an elephant sits on you!”), the inquisitors (“What’s that?” “What are you doing?” “When am I going to get pixie dust?”), the Chatty Cathies (the ones who give you their life stories in response to one question), and the live wires (My favorite- the ones with the big happy personalities who often had me in stitches.) The parents of the talkative ones would always apologize to me, and I’d tell them not to because I’d take a Chatty Cathy over one who doesn’t talk at all any time! Sometimes I’d get the silent ones or the ones who were clearly only doing it for mom or the screamers (They’d get overwhelmed and scared or they might have missed naptime and were cranky), but most of the girls were happy.
My favorite part of this job was the funny things kids say. I often told kids that I have a big little sister- my younger sister is taller than me. One girl I told this too said “Maybe you didn’t eat enough veggies.” Another time, I was explaining to a girl that I didn’t know how to cut hair, and she replied “Well, you know how you cut paper?”
Another fairy godmother in training was asking a little girl what she liked to do. She said she liked to paint. The fairy godmother asked her, “What do you like to paint? Do you paint people or houses?”
“No, I don’t paint people or houses!”
“Well, what do you like to paint?”
One girl gave me a big hug after her transformation. I said, “Wow, that was a big hug!”
She said, “I can hug even bigger!”
Then she barreled into me and knocked me over with her hug!
When asked to make a wish, a little 3 year old Snow White blurted out, “I wish for a pet snake!”
JEFF: Any times you can think of that you went out of your way to make a guest’s visit more magical?
ANGELA: I was known as the singing Fairy Godmother in training because I constantly sang along with the background music. Sometimes I came over and sang specifically requested songs. I helped a special needs child stay calm for her Fairy Godmother by singing to her and holding her hand. I would also read to children from a princess story book. And any time a child brought in her American Girl doll, I’d try to steal a moment to take the doll into the back and style her hair into a princess bun. (I collect American Girl myself.) A few years ago, I did this for an autistic girl with a passion for those dolls. I have since bonded with the family who live in NJ, and they have treated me more than once to the cafe in the American Girl Place store when I’ve been in NYC.
JEFF: Any other fun stories that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!
ANGELA: I like to say Walt Disney World really is a small world after all. While working at Disney, I have discovered one of my princesses had an uncle married to someone I went to high school with, I met another girl who was the daughter of someone in my sister’s class, and a little girl’s brother had once attended my elementary school and had my 1st grade teacher!
A big thank you to Angela for sharing!
Don’t forget come back each week to hear more of the magic directly From the Mouth of the Mouse.
Tickets are now on sale for the
EPCOT 30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!
Come celebrate EPCOT’s 30th Anniversary in style with a live taping of MiceChat’s Communicore Weekly! Join co-hosts Jeff Heimbuch & George Taylor, along with MiceChat’s Dusty Sage, Kevin Yee, and the Communicore Weekly Orchestra, for a fun-filled night of fandom and frivolity as they tape a special hour long episode of the hit show, Communicore Weekly.
Join us on the evening of Saturday, September 29th 2912 in the Norway Pavilion Special Events Lounge in EPCOT’s World Showcase for this one of a kind event!
Your ticket includes:
- Admission into the live taping of CW in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT (note: admission into the park is NOT included)!
- Meet special guest, Ron Schneider, the original Dreamfinder!
- Decadent dessert reception!
- Short scavenger hunt hosted by Kevin Yee before the show will be available to those who would like to participate (prizes will be awarded)!
- Prizes, giveaways and more!
- The chance to be a part of EPCOT and Communicore Weekly history!
- Endless Five Legged Goats and perhaps even a real life Bathroom Break!
- Exclusive late night ride after park closing on a selected EPCOT attraction to cap off the evening!
For more tickets and more information, be sure to visit MiceChat.com/store!
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!
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