Many of us will never grow out of Disney. While some still routinely sit through Disney movie marathons, some still dream of becoming real-life Disney princesses. And indeed, many Disney lovers do end up on Disney World, breathing life into a Disney character. How did they do that, you ask?
Whenever you see a Disney character audition come up online, here’s how you prepare for that.
How You Prepare for Character Auditions at Disney World
Before we get started with tips, what is a character audition?
If you’re auditioning for a character role, you’re planning to be a character performer at a Disney theme park. A character performer’s main responsibility will be to interact with guests as one of the world-famous Disney characters. Your day will include lots of autograph signing, posing for photos, interaction, hugs, kisses, and animated storytelling. This requires a lot of physical activity and strength. Keep in mind that you’ll be wearing potentially heavy costumes, some with limited vision, in hot and humid weather.
Not every character performer role is the same, and the audition may look different, depending on what they are looking for. If Disney is looking for performers to fit face roles (like Cinderella, Tinkerbell, or Jasmine), they will weigh what you look like more heavily than for performers for fur roles (Goofy, Minnie Mouse, or Donald Duck). In essence, there are different types of auditions because there are different types of roles. Assess your strengths, and audition for the roles you think you’ll be the most successful at!
Here’s how you prepare for character auditions.
Comply with requirements.
Each Disney casting call will provide a detailed description of what you need to know, such as the location of the audition, what time to arrive at the location, what the audition will consist of, and what type of performer the casting directors are seeking to hire. This is where you need to pay most attention to. For example, if you are 5’8″, and you show up to an audition for female character look-alikes from 4’8″-5’2″, you will immediately be disregarded.
Prepare your headshot and résumé.
You may not have read this on Disney’s listing, thinking this is not technically required, but as a performer, it is always highly advisable to bring your headshot and résumé with you. Most of the time, Disney expects these from auditionees because, hello, isn’t that how professional auditions work?
These two tools distinguish serious, hirable performers from the others, so invest in high-quality photos from a specialized headshot photographer. Your headshot should clearly show your features and be a standard 8″ x 10″. Most importantly, it should look exactly like you today. For more headshot tips, check this article out. Print or securely attach your résumé at 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. Read this blog post for guidelines.
Wear appropriate clothing.
Disney’s webpage on auditions has great guidelines for what to wear. Be sure to look those up and follow them! You must be prepared for a full dance and improv animation audition. Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to dance and move like running or basketball shorts, T-shirts or athletic shirts, yoga pants or dance attire. Use comfortable, sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Avoid high heels, short skirts and dresses, and tight or restrictive clothing. Keep in mind that you are trying to make an impression on the recruiters, not seduce them. Disney World is supposed to be a family-friendly theme park, not a Victoria’s Secret studio!
Prepare to dance.
Stretch beforehand and do some warmups because more often than not, auditionees will be dancing. Normally the audition website will state if a dance routine will be taught. And normally, Disney’s character auditions include some. Those with a dance background should sail through easily, while those without strong training are likely to stumble. Keep in mind that this is Disney, so set your expectations right before even showing up at the venue. If you’re not a natural dancer, at least practice dancing at home and watch videos till you get the hang of it.
Auditions are based on physical storytelling ability (referred to as “animation”), movement, and physical coordination. This is pretty much like theater, except that the entire park is your stage. Remember that bigger is better when it comes to character movement in a theater? Now make that even bigger for a theme park. Make everything you do intentional, larger than life, and very, very clear. In some auditions, there might be no choreography or no lines to memorize, just animation. For example, act as if you’re a cowboy, act as if you’re about to throw up, act as if you just found $100 on the ground, act as if you are in a meet and greet with an old woman in a wheelchair, etc. You have to be able to come up with these animations on the spot! So study improvisation as much as you can prior to the audition.
Practice smiling a lot.
Through every stage of the audition, be sure to flash your best smile. If you twirl and kick when you are supposed to do the grapevine, own that mistake and smile through it. The audition is fast-paced, so the panel and choreographer expect mistakes. Disney is looking for people who know how to have fun, even when they’re caught off guard, even when they’re accidentally not doing their best performance. This is why you have never seen a Disney performer frown while dancing.
Be ready for rejection.
Understand that there are many factors that must be taken into account when determining who gets kept and who does not. Just do your best every character audition you go to and have fun with your performance. The rest is out of your hands.
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