Observations from former parade/character performer

Started by Disneydanseur, November 18, 2016, 09:53:51 AM

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Hi all.

I've been on this forum for a while-and since I used to work in the "parade/character" department I thought I would share with you some of the thoughts Ive had reading some of the topics on this forum about auditioning/contracts/etc. And maybe debunk some myths or shed light on what it's really like without ruining too much magic as its not my place to do so.

About me:
I am a professionally trained dancer, I worked as a Parade/Character performer for a good half a year before getting "promoted" to a Dancer contract for various shows. I still work for Disney on/off as a dancer so gonna remain anonymous. But I did all the seasons, danced on parade alot, fur characters. And had alot of "face" character friends

Disclaimer: All of these are my experiences and opinions. Nothing is set in stone and there will allways be exceptions.

1. Waiting list:

As most know if you pass all the rounds (animation, dance, potentioally face/extra characters) you get put on the waiting list for 6 months. In my experience majority of the people working in Entertainment got called within the first month, if not a few weeks. I myself got called within 5 days. There are exceptions I am sure, but I have yet to meet someone in the department who waited longer than 2 months

-The reason? Disney hires a ton of CDDs (date to date) for the seasons, and after they are done they are in yet another "talent pool" that Disney uses at the times of year where they need more performers. Alot of them wants to come back, they dont need to be trained and they know what they are doing. So if you as a new person auditioning are not what Disney needs right now the likelyhood of getting called 4 months later after theyve had a million other auditions are not too big.

2.Best times of year to audition
The absolute best time of year to audition to have the highest chance of getting hired is between January-July. I will allmost slim it down to Feb-May.
Why?- Summer is the busiest time of year at Disney with the longest opening hours. Followed by Halloween and Christmas. Therefore Disney hire ALOT of date to date people for 6 month contract to work there from summer til the end of christmas. Again majority of the people I worked with at disney had auditioned in that time period unless they were open ended, and even then very few auditioned in autumn/winter.

3.Who actually get a contract?
It's all about 3 things. Face, Height and Dance abilities. If you make an amazing face character the likelyhood of getting hired fast is very big. And they will prob also offer you an open ended contract- just because finding those faces are more challenging and they want to keep you.

Height- this also tie on to face and dance. If you have a very medium/average height and dont have alot of characters to do, you need to either be a face character or be a really good dancer.

I only had 5 characters- but i was a good dancer so they could use me for halloween and christmas cavalcades.
Most face characters have "dead heights" meaning they fall right in between and therfore only can do maybe 2 or 3. If they didnt have a face character they wouldnt be of much use.

The most important characters to be able to do are the VIPs. (Mickey, minnie, donald, goofy, chipmunks, pluto) since they are used so much. The full height list can be seen here: http://apforums.net/showthread.php?t=5375
If you cant do face character, cant do one of the VIPs the likelihood of getting hired is allmost non exisiting.

4.It's all about the meetngreets (could also be called "Im a dancer!", "Im a princess!"
Be prepared to do alot of fur!
The most important function you fill for Disney is a fur character. Its very important to know this. Especially in the beginning you will spend majority of your time doing sets as a character. Outside of the big seasons there is only one parade each day, and before that you do sets. And you do not do parade every day. There are about 300 ppl i think in entertainment and they need 80 per parade.
Which means it can be days and weeks between parades- and since you also will have fur roles, you can end up spending majority of your time in a "head".
It leads to alot of frustration for people who like to think they were hired as a "dancer" especially.
So be aware that you will do fur-and alot of it!

-"Im a princess"
You do not allways get trained to do your face role instantly. Especially if you need contacts it can take weeks or months before they get you scheduled in. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are the two best roles to have to avoid doing alot of fur since they are allways in the Auberge doing dining shifts, or in the princess pavillion.
But for some of the more obscure ones, say Ariel og Jasmine, you will end up doing alot of fur too.

These are the first 4 i coul think of right now. I will prob add on to the list a little later.
If there are anything you would like to hear about or any questions I will try to answer as best as I can without giving too much away.