Home » 6 Secrets of Character Auditions at Walt Disney World

    6 Secrets of Character Auditions at Walt Disney World

    For many visitors, meeting the characters at Disney’s theme parks is one of the highlights of their trip. Many dream of working at the parks some day, helping to bring the magic to life.

    Now, of course, here at Theme Park Tourist, we’re not about to burst the illusion that those characters are REAL. We don’t want to spoil your fun, or that of your children.

    Having said that, we know that many people dream of working “with” the characters – and it’s one of those dreams that can seem impossible. Fantasizing about helping children meet Cinderella or Peter Pan is one thing, but actually doing it can feel totally unrealistic. Yet, every new month, new performers begin doing just that.

    If you want to join their ranks, it all starts with an audition, where you have just a short time to set yourself apart from the crowd. Here are six things you should know before you head out for your big moment.

    1. Be on time, but prepare to wait

    Image: Disney

    It should go without saying that arriving on time is important for any job interview or audition, yet every time, more than a few people show up late. Find the appropriate audition at disneyauditions.com, and pay close attention to the designated sign-in period. Arriving after that window closes may result in your not being allowed to audition, or at the very least, it will reflect negatively on you with the judging panel.

    Disney auditions are extraordinarily popular, so prepare yourself to wait. Bring a book, a tablet, a smart phone, or some other distraction, as well as snacks and water. Spend some time stretching out and warming up your body so you will be ready to go when called.

    2. Auditions are closed

    Although no one will stop you from bringing an extra person to sit in the waiting room, it is highly discouraged due to space limitations. Inside the audition room, however, absolutely no one is permitted to accompany you. This includes your best friend, your mom, your baby, or anyone else. There are no exceptions, and you risk seriously upsetting the audition panel if you try. Since they are the ones you need to impress if you want the job, leave the extra people at home.

    3. Everyone auditions for fur

    Every single character performer at Walt Disney World is expected to work some fur shifts. This means working “with” one or more animated characters such as Mickey or Tigger. It is important to realize this and make peace with it before you audition, because the reality is that you won’t always get to work with a prince or princess.

    Accordingly, even at face character auditions (“Disney Character Look-alikes” on the audition website), you must be prepared for a full dance and improv animation audition. Wear comfortable, sturdy, closed-toe shoes, and remember that bigger is better when it comes to character movement. Make everything you do intentional, larger than life, and very, very clear.

    4. You *might* be eligible for face

    Face characters are those who are not fully covered in fur, such as princesses. A type-out is often stage one of a character audition. In a type-out, the audition panel carefully considers everyone’s physical characteristics. Those who do not meet the criteria are sent home. While fur character auditioners are typed-out based on height, those wanting to work with face characters are typed-out on a staggering and fairly mysterious set of criteria including height, body type, and facial features.

    Although it may seem cruel, typing-out is an important part of the audition process. Character height lists are fairly easy to find on Disney fan sites, but things like face proportions are much harder to deduce. If you fall within the designated height range for your favorite character, and you think you resemble him or her, by all means give it a shot! You never know exactly what the audition panel is looking for.

    At face auditions, you might try on a costume and have your hair and makeup done, and then sit or stand for numerous photographs from different angles. This process allows the audition panel to carefully scrutinize all of their options and choose those auditioners who best meet their criteria.

    If you are typed-out from face, try not to be disappointed. Many people find that they really enjoy the flexibility and fun of fur, and all face characters also have to do fur shifts anyway.

    5. A headshot and resume matter

    Although they are not technically required, Disney asks all auditioners to bring a headshot and resume if possible. These two items can really mark you as a professional, so it’s worth investing in high-quality photos from a specialized headshot photographer. Your headshot should be printed in black and white, clearly show your features, and be a standard 8×10. Most importantly, it should look exactly like you, as you are today. If you cut your hair or gain or lose weight, get a new headshot. If yours is more than a few years old, get a new one.

    Print or securely attach your resume on the back of the headshot, facing out. It should be no more than one page in length and highlight your biggest, most recent performing roles. It’s okay to list community theater and other volunteer gigs, but always list your most impressive credentials first.

    6. You will dance…hard

    Parade Dancer

    The Disney audition website says that at character performer auditions, you will learn a movement routine. Don’t be fooled. You won’t be dancing at the professional level required for Disney’s dancer auditions, but you won’t be walking through a few easy steps either. While those with a dance background should sail through easily, those without strong training are likely to stumble.

    Here’s the secret: Keep in mind what you are auditioning for. You’re not trying to be a dancer (unless you’re at dancer auditions). You’re trying to evoke a character. And the key to characters is big, sweeping movements and a lot of personality. Do your best to learn the steps to the routine, but when it’s time to demonstrate them, don’t get hung up on remembering them. It’s better to do them spectacularly wrongly, with a huge smile on your face and a ton of energy, than to be technically perfect but small and mousy because you’re worried about how you’re doing.

    Character performer auditions can seem intimidating, but there’s no reason to let that dissuade you from your dream. Worry about the things you can control, such as getting a great headshot and showing up on time, and trust the audition team to manage the rest. They are human beings just like you, and they genuinely want you to succeed. After all, the show can’t go on unless they have enough successful auditioners!