So, as some of you may or may not know a few day’s ago I returned to the UK after completing a three and a half month contract in the Character and Parade Department at Disneyland Paris. This was a roller coaster of an experience that I will treasure forever. I have been getting a lot of requests to do Disney based posts about my adventure so here I am sharing my experience with you guys. I would like to start off by saying that there are an awful lot of thing’s that I can’t share with you as it would spoil the magic and we don’t want that but I will do my best to share with you as much of my adventure that I possibly can.
I think that the first post has to be dedicated to my audition experience as this after all is where it all began and I also feel it would help a lot of you if you have an interest in how you get a job in the Character and Parade Department at Disneyland Paris. I think I first came across auditions for Disneyland Paris on thestage which is a website that shares lots of auditions happening across the country. I am an actress so I spend an awful lot of my time on this website searching for any auditions I can possibly get to. However, you can find audition information on disneyauditions.com which shares audition information for all the Disney parks. After I saw the Disney audition pop up I thought “Why the heck not?!”. For the Disneyland Paris auditions you can either attend in London or Leeds so depending where you live you choose accordingly which you go to.
The first time I auditioned (I auditioned four times, YES four!), I auditioned in London as at the time I was studying Theatre at Coventry University so London was the closest place for me. I got up at the crack of dawn and got myself on a train. I was super nervous heading to London, I’d never auditioned for anything professional before so it was a scary thing for me. When I arrived at Pineapple Studios it was fairly quiet and I walked straight in, once inside I was given a piece of paper where I had to fill my details out. Note: if you hate enclosed spaces or have back problems then it might not be the job for you and you have to disclose this information on the paper. I was also given a number and then waited until more people arrived. After a while when it was sufficiently rammed we were ushered to go and get our height measured, this is so that they can work out what characters you could possibly do correlating to your height. I was measured at 166cm at this audition, this changed from audition to audition (it’s called “Disney height” as they kind of give you the height they want you to be, the height I got given for my final audition was 164cm). I then had to take my piece of paper with my new height written on to Daniel Harding who is the casting director. He then gives your form a quick look over as well as glances at your face to decide if you could do face character work then quickly writes what he thinks regarding that on your paper. If you see a lot of dancers stretching in their ballerina attire PLEASE don’t be put off if you’re not a dancer as I too am not a dancer and made it to Disneyland Paris so take a deep breath and don’t start judging your old converse and leggings ensemble that you carefully put together the week before. After all the heights are done everyone sits on top of each other in the very small studio to be shown a little presentation on what it’s like to work at Disneyland Paris with Daniel throwing in a few cheesy jokes in there to ease the tension (it’s the same jokes every time, you’ll realise this if you go to a few of the auditions and you’ll be able to say the jokes as he does). Then it’s on to the actual audition. The first part is an animation round which is important if you want to work at Disney as you need to be able to bring those amazing characters to life so really think about your movements in this round, make sure they’re big and bold. If you don’t feel stupid in this round then i’m sorry you’re not trying hard enough. I’m not going to go through exactly what you have to do as I’d rather you experience it for yourselves as it’s all part of the Disney experience. If you would rather know what happens then get yourself on YouTube and you’ll find a fair few Disney audition videos that explain what happens. You have a few practice rounds before you have to perform in front of the panel. If you get through this round CONGRATS, it’s a tough round so well done on getting that far. If not, don’t be too disheartened as you now know what happens and can work on it for next time. After this round comes the dance round where you learn a dance and then again after a few practices you perform it for the panel. As a non dancer it’s hard to get to grips with it at first but honestly if you stumble or make a few mistakes KEEP GOING they’re not always looking for the perfect dancer! They want to make sure you can keep smiling even if you make a mistake. They care about SMILES, not perfection. If you made it past this round, CONGRATS! If not, again you now know how this part works and you can practice for next time. This is where the audition splits as some people finish the audition after this round as they get put on the books for just character and parade performers. I have never been considered for just this role. I have always been looked at for a face character, character and parade role so I only know about what happens for this role. If you’re being considered for a face character you get to experience the lovely part of the audition where you get your face checked, they look at your face up close so they can decide if you suit any of the face characters they’re looking for. It was at this point in my first audition that I was cut, this was the same for the following two auditions. At my first audition I left feeling a mix of emotions. I was proud of myself for getting that far but I also had a lot of questions flying about my head… “Why didn’t they pick me?” “Is there something wrong with my face?” “Am I ugly?!” etc It could be a bunch of reasons why you didn’t get picked that specific day (not that you’re ugly!) DON’T DWELL ON IT. My best advice is keep your chin up and practice practice practice so you can nail the audition next time.
The following auditions I did were all in Leeds as I had moved back home to Manchester after completing my degree. The two auditions after the first went exactly the same as the first with me getting to the same point each time. It was my fourth audition that was the game changer. I managed to get past the face checks and found myself in the next stage of the audition which is where you get tried for the face characters they have in mind for you. I’m not going to say specifically what happens in this part either because it was ten times more magical for me not knowing what was going to happen and I want you guys to experience that feeling to. After being fitted and approved for two face characters I was put on the books and given that magical blue card that says “You’ve passed!”. It was at this point I was in total disbelief that I’d done it. I’d finally completed my goal and it felt incredible. To be given that little blue card was just an achievement in itself. All I’d wanted for the past year or so was to complete the audition and i’d done it. I’ll be honest, I could’ve cried. I was so proud of myself and I couldn’t wait to tell anyone and everyone I’d done it. I’ve inserted the picture of me with my card, excuse my face in the picture i’m make up less and rather tired from the very long day! I must say, apart from
Throughout the whole audition you need to remember to SMILE. From the moment you walk into the building to when you’re passing Daniel your card to when you’re completing the different rounds. Smiling is 100% important. The audition is for Disneyland, the happiest place on earth and your face needs to match that level of happiness if you’re going to be an employee.
2. Give everything you’ve got
You can’t do things halfheartedly, the casting directors need to know that you will be able to animate a character whilst inside a very big costume for a solid 30mins whilst on set. You need to put everything you’ve got into the audition, if you’re going to wave it can’t just be a little wave that you’d do to your nan when you say goodbye after a lovely roast dinner at hers! It needs to be a BIG, up in the air “HELLO, I’M HERE!” kind of a wave. When it comes to the dance, you might not be the next prima ballerina but you need to show that you’re confident. If you mess up, smile and carry on. If you can show that you can get through a routine without doing it perfectly but still smiling and having a hell of a good time then they’ll put you through. I know, I did it. I have no dance skills and somehow I ended up dancing down main street. YOU. CAN. DO. IT.
3. Wear the right clothing
Ok so, you might not be a dancer so don’t have dancing attire BUT you still need to be wearing clothes you can move in. In all four of my auditions I saw at least 10 people wearing what they would wear if they were either going shopping or to a fancy dress party. NEVER DRESS AS A PRINCESS. As one you will look like a tit and two the casting directors don’t like being told who you look like. You might think you look like Ariel in your red wig and sequin dress but they might not and because that’s all they see when they look at you it might put them off being able to see who you might look like. So please, just don’t. Also, don’t just rock up in your favourite skirt, tights and boots combo. It might look good when walking through town spending your just cashed in wage but it won’t in the dance studio. They need to see that you’re serious. Wear gym clothes/work out attire because it shows off your body which is something they need to see and it also shows that you’re ready to sweat your ass off in the up coming rounds.
4. Talk to people
I also found it eased the tension and nerves when you talk to people at the audition. Every single time I attended an audition I went alone and I always found myself with a small group of people by the time the power point presentation started. It’s great to just chat to anyone as you an share your own experiences of the audition and listen to other peoples. I always find it eases the nerves because instead of thinking about having to prove you can be the best cowgirl ever in front of a panel of judges, you are explaining what happens in the audition to a group of people who have never done the audition before. I ended up concentrating on helping other people get through the audition rather than putting pressure on myself which I really think helped me to get through!
5. If you don’t get through, keep trying
I’m a prime example of this. Just because you didn’t get though the first time doesn’t mean you should stop trying. There could be a million reasons why you didn’t such as your availability not matching theirs, you look like a face character but not one they’re looking for currently, your dancing wasn’t as strong etc these are all things that could change the next time you go. You just have to keep that chin up and work hard. I had to work hard to get my blue card, some people don’t have to and get through the first time but not everyone is that lucky. If you want something then you have to work for it. I see it as a good thing that I didn’t get it the first few times, I wouldn’t have felt as proud of myself or that I hadn’t earned it.
There we have it, my first Disney post. I hope you enjoyed reading it and that I’ve either inspired you to audition or that I’ve helped you a little bit for the next time that you do. Remember, this is my experience and my own thoughts on it. Please comment below with your thoughts on this post and also with what you might like to read next.
I will end this post with a Tangled quote because why not…
“Go, live your dream”.
Lots of love,