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  1. #1

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    Question Disneyland Character Questions

    I was wondering this the other day and thought some Disney CMs or former CMs could shed some light on this.

    Who decides which characters appear in the park for the day? Now I know there are certain meet-n-greet areas and those are pretty much set, but who decides that Mary Poppins is going to appear at the castle or hub on any given day?

    Also, where are the dressing rooms for the CMs? Does someone check to make sure that you're dressed approriately before you appear onstage? Are there make up artists for face characters? Is it true that the CM is never called their character names until they're completely dressed?

    ie. I worked on a show for Chapman University called 'American Celebration'. The year I worked it, Disney was sponsoring it and featured a number of characters at the event. For rehearsals, the CMs showed up without costumes but rehearsed their numbers. When they were rehearsing they referred to their characters in 3rd person or the choreographer called the CM playing The Beast 'Beast's helper'. Is this common at the parks, too?

    Thanks in advance.


  2. #2

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini Cricket
    The year I worked it, Disney was sponsoring it and featured a number of characters at the event. For rehearsals, the CMs showed up without costumes but rehearsed their numbers. When they were rehearsing they referred to their characters in 3rd person or the choreographer called the CM playing The Beast 'Beast's helper'. Is this common at the parks, too?

    Thanks in advance.

    My nieces always referred to themselves as "Mickey's friend" or "Minnie's friends."
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  3. #3

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini Cricket
    I was wondering this the other day and thought some Disney CMs or former CMs could shed some light on this.

    Who decides which characters appear in the park for the day? Now I know there are certain meet-n-greet areas and those are pretty much set, but who decides that Mary Poppins is going to appear at the castle or hub on any given day?

    Also, where are the dressing rooms for the CMs? Does someone check to make sure that you're dressed approriately before you appear onstage? Are there make up artists for face characters? Is it true that the CM is never called their character names until they're completely dressed?

    ie. I worked on a show for Chapman University called 'American Celebration'. The year I worked it, Disney was sponsoring it and featured a number of characters at the event. For rehearsals, the CMs showed up without costumes but rehearsed their numbers. When they were rehearsing they referred to their characters in 3rd person or the choreographer called the CM playing The Beast 'Beast's helper'. Is this common at the parks, too?

    Thanks in advance.

    Honestly, many different things can go into who appears any given day. First there is the basic schedule of who is working that day, in the case of costumed characters, the schedule is done on seniority depending on seasonal timing and availability. For face characters the same is true, however there has been times when someone approved for face work is not available and will not appear for some time. This is common for male face (Pan, Any Prince, Bert) and on the female side for Alice and Poppins, mostly due to CM's approved for dialect ( english accent). Once all that is in place, groups of CM's are placed into Units based on size. An example of a unit could be a Pinocchio unit in Fantasyland, Pinocchio being the main character and a complete unit would include any combination of Gepetto, Gideon and Fowlfellow, rarely will it include any other characters. In the case of face characters a unit could be Poppins and if available Bert, if no Bert than maybe a couple of Penguins and place Mary in the white carolsell dress instead of the read overcoat. Hope that all makes sense. A typical day can have sets scheduled for each unit in different areas throughout the day, a typical set is 35 minutes on stage and 25 off. Before there were alot of meet and greets, there was usually 2 CM's in costume for each FAB 5 characters and they would rotate sets so that there was basically always a Mickey on Main Street and these schedules were made with parade times in mind. As character and parade are two different departments. Where a someone appears is generally specific too the character, Fab 5 on Main Street, Buzz in Tommorowland, Woody in Frontierland, Tigger or Pooh in Critter Country...ect. For Face characters it is a little more open since there is no chance of 2 of the same on set at any given time, except for Parade time. There is only one Alice or Snow White or Cinderella on schedule on any day.
    Make-up is done on an instructional basis, once trained each CM is responsible for their own. Leads always monitor each CM, so if any Make-up or Costume needs to be fixed during the day it is done right. But basically if you cannot handle the Make-up then you will not be doing the job, that is part of the approval process. Costumes are removed during each break between set times, CM's are not allowed to sit around wearing costumes, eating, drinking...ect. Wigs and make-up are the exceptions. Dressing areas are all about the backstage area depending on area, some are simply behind a curtain, while some are in rooms in buildings.
    I guess this is a little of the behind the scenes you were looking for, the truth is it has been 11 years since I finished my time in the character dept. Spent 6 years doing Face and Costume then, but like all things I am sure it is different now, so maybe this was more of a history lesson and someone else can give us an update.
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    Last edited by James T Hook; 04-25-2006 at 10:17 AM.
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  4. #4

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Excellent post, JTH!

  5. #5

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Awesome.. you covered everything I could of added JTH!

  6. #6

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Thanks for the info. I have been curious about this myself.

  7. #7

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini Cricket
    ....called the CM playing The Beast 'Beast's helper'.
    I think you are referring to my Ex-girlfriend




  8. #8

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Awsome! Thanks for the behind the scenes stuff! I live for info like that...I know, that makes me a little sad and pathetic, but who cares?
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  9. #9

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Wow, thanks for the great detail! Excellent job. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Do they have wig stylists to touch up and redo the hair then? I have always wanted to work like that behind the scenes.
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  10. #10

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasmico!
    Wow, thanks for the great detail! Excellent job. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Do they have wig stylists to touch up and redo the hair then? I have always wanted to work like that behind the scenes.
    A funny tag to the wig story.....The wigs are cared for and styled by the one person in the character costume dept. Although no wig is specific for any one CM, each one is numbered and everyone has their favorites and usual one. Once on, you would never know that Snow White was really a Blonde and Cinderella a red head (true). There was only one Face CM that was approved to appear with natural hair and that was a stunning Alice. In regards to the Male's, the early characters needed no wigs, just a clean hair cut (prince, pan) however in later times Prince Eric and Hercules needed wigs because their hairstyle did not fit the Disney Image policy in place then and the Guys would not be allowed to come to work with their hair below the collar, so they has to start wearing wigs.
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  11. #11

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    They do schedule more than one face character per day. On peak days especially, it is no uncommon at all to enter the park and see Belle doing a meet-n-greet with Snow White in the main gate area. Then you walk down Main Street, and lo and behold. Snow is at her wishing well, Belle near Carnation Plaza Gardens.

    I find the idea of doubling face characters like that absolutely appalling, especially when the disparity between what one Belle's face may look like compared to another is so blatantly different.

    When the Snow White show first opened, there were 3 Snows in DL. One at Main Gate, one at the Well and one doing meet-n-greets after the show at Fantasyland Theater (of course, it was a face character, not the actress who performed in the show). Talk about killing the magic.

  12. #12

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasmico!
    Wow, thanks for the great detail! Excellent job. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Do they have wig stylists to touch up and redo the hair then? I have always wanted to work like that behind the scenes.
    I don't know about the "Meet-n-Greet" characters, but they have a ton of wigs back behind Toontown for the parades. There is (well, 12 years ago) a room that has a long table down the middle. Then on each side of the table are about 5 chairs and mirrors. I guess that's where the parade people put on their make-up/wigs. Then in back of this room was a storage room with all of those Styofoam heads and wigs.

    Cleaning up this room at night was gross. There was always hair on the floors. Smiles and stuff drawn with lipstick on the mirrors.

  13. #13

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    Re: Disneyland Character Questions

    More important.... who decided that all characters must have exactly the same personality? Who decided that we should just toss out the characterizations perfected on film and just give everybody a perky personality?!

    I just want to see a whiny Alice, a manic-depressive Cinderella, and a Tinker Bell that's a psychopathic b&#161;&#163;&#162;€, just like they were in the movies!!!
    -Tim

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