Let’s be fair, shall we? I still want to be a Disney princess. I’m legally an adult, and I have a sensible, smart and very realistic brain in my head, and I still want to wear a pretty dress and wave at children all day.
I know I’m on a hospitality and tourism career track. But I have this dream of waving from a float during the Main Street Electrical Parade right before the fireworks.
I see Snow White and Rapunzel and yes, Anna and Elsa, chowing down on salads and granola bars in the Mousketeeria on my lunch breaks. I see Peter Pan as he carries his neon green tunic through the tunnels under Magic Kingdom. When they’re not making dreams come true, they wear white t-shirts to keep their exquisite outfits clean and sparkling. (The fairy godmother, you see, hasn’t got time to make them all new dresses if there’s a spill.)
What would happen if I went to one of these world-renowned ‘Character Auditions?’
Well, I aimed to find out. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t last ten minutes. But that doesn’t mean this story doesn’t have a happy ending.)
Totally unsure of what to expect or wear, I just kind of woke up one morning and showed up. See, I have the luxury of living literally ten minutes away from Disney, and if I felt like hitting up the Animal Kingdom Wardrobe Facility every Thursday for the rest of the year, I could. Usually, however, I’m working or going to school and haven’t got the time. But one clear morning, I woke up and thought, “It’s worth a shot, right?”
When I parked my car, I noticed lots and lots of girls with long hair and lipstick primping themselves in their car mirrors or walking into the building with impeccable posture. I immediately felt like a frump–I’d only worn mascara, I hadn’t gotten my smoky eye on at nine in the morning. I followed them into the building.
I’m familiar with backstage Magic Kingdom and Epcot, but I know little to nothing about DAK (Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the acronym literally pronounced as in ‘rhymes-with-quack’ to Cast Members). The space felt big and beige, a lot like a Disneyfied version of your high school gym.
Immediately I felt… well, like one in a million, one grain of sand among thousands. I like to think I’m original–small in stature, untatooed, unusually perky. Yeah, no, there are hundreds of girls that fit that description, each of them smiling, waving, batting their huge anime eyes.
We each signed in and were measured. We were told to sit and wait for further instructions.
“Do you have the dance experience?” the girl in front of me asked. I nodded, striking up a conversation. We found a spot on the floor to wait and scope out the competition. I can only imagine everyone wanted to make a good impression, but I ended up sitting with three girls who were the cheeriest, nicest and sincerest people I’ve ever met. My kind of people! Perky and smiley and nice!
We waited for an hour and a half. In total, four hundred girls ended up packed in the space.
“This is my sixth audition,” one girl said with a grin. “Is this your first?”
“Yeah,” I responded. “You’ve done this six times?”
“At my first audition, the guy said he had to audition twelve times until he got the role he wanted,” she said. “So I’m just going to keep showing up until the dream comes true.”
Eventually we were split into four groups. We were led separately into a room where we were lined up in rows and told to just stand still, look pretty. I kid you not, we stood there in awkward silence as a casting director stared at each of our faces individually and wrote down the winners of the beauty contest. Everyone else was told to leave, including myself and the adorable girls beside me.
“Seventh time’s the charm!” I said to the cheery girl beside me. She shrugged. “I’ll get it, someday,” she said. We made the awkward walk of shame past the other hopefuls who hadn’t had their Disney Dreams crushed yet and I waved goodbye to my new friends. One of them is a security guard here at Disney, and she found me on Facebook. I now have the unique experience of saying I met one of my dear Disney friends at a princess audition–how cool is that?
I went straight to work after that, trading my magical Disney dreams of being a princess for those of grilling salmon over a hot grill for the next ten hours. Of course, I’d told no one I was auditioning. How embarrassing would it be to be a failed princess? No, I’d kept that quiet.
Of course, that was the day one of my dearest coworkers asked me, “Have you ever tried out to be a princess?”
“I’ve thought about it,” I said, not exactly lying.
“You should do it. You’d be great.” He’s a nice older man, foreign, and the kindest person I think I’ve ever met in my life.
“I don’t think they’d take me,” I replied. I guarantee it, actually.
“Well that’s okay, yes?” he said. “Maybe one day you can get that job instead, but until then, you can just be the salmon and broccoli princess, okay?”
I laughed. Yep, that’s me, the Salmon and Broccoli Princess of Columbia Harbour House! Not Character material, but at least I can grill a salmon like a boss. And I met some wonderful, wonderful people at the audition. I must be a little to optimistic, because I could not have picked a few faces from that crowd. I would have pulled out my best Oprah–“You’re a princess, and you’re a princess and, in fact, you’re ALL princesses!”
So, if you ever want to visit a Disney Audition, I say go for it. The worst they can say is no, and if that’s the case, don’t worry. I think you’re a princess. I think you’re all princesses!