A former Disney princess from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, who played Mulan, Pocahontas and Silvermist the fairy, recently held a Reddit AMA. Going by the user name Too Tsunami, she divulged behind-the-scenes secrets from "the happiest place on Earth."
Along with having to learn the signature of the princess she was playing, Too Tsunami would accidentally sign in a princess' name outside of work. "I used to on accident! I signed "Mulan" about 1000 times a day at work, you eventually get handed paper & do it without thinking." She said.
One AMA responder asked, "Did you ever have kids tell you that you weren't the real thing? How did you handle that?"
To which she responded, "Chinese people would always tell me to speak Chinese & I'd tell them that I bet Mushu if I could go an entire day without speaking Chinese he'd feed the chickens for me tomorrow."
"I was hit on as Pocahontas more than Mulan or Silvermist, & it definitely has to do with the amount of clothing she's wearing. I've never been touched inappropriately, but there's always the family that makes the grandpa or the dad get a picture alone & they'd whisper how pretty I was or ask when I got off of work. I'd get slipped the occasional phone number on a napkin, but nothing ridiculous has ever happened," she said.
"But it's probably a different story for the Princess Jasmines, who are wearing just a bra & parachute pants."
"Everyone is hired initially as the role 'Character Performer.'You are not allowed to learn a 'face' role (the characters that talk to you) unless you have had training as a fur character first (costumed characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, etc.). It is probably different now than my training five years ago, but when I trained, I had five days of fur character training, which was three days of animation & autograph practice, & two days meeting guests as a fur character. After you are approved for the fur character training, you are allowed to move on to face character training.
You have two days of training per face character you're given. Day 1 is watching the movie, learning how to walk, talk, & act, & day 2 is meet & greets with guests. I think there may be an additional day for accents ex. Alice in Wonderland & Mary Poppins, but none of my three face roles had any accents, so i'm not sure.
There are people who are face trainers, who monitor you during training. After you are approved, you are expected to maintain your training & uphold character integrity during meet & greets. You have character attendants who are in charge of your lines & dealing with guests during your meet & greets, but there isn't someone watching you every meet & greet to see if you're always acting like your character."
The former princess recalls one of the best experiences in her career:
"I was Pocahontas, & I met a little girl named Emily. she was about 7 & with her dad. She came up & said, "Hi Pocahontas, I made you this card." I opened it & it said "Dear Pocahontas, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily." I thanked her, & she left. Two days later, I was Silvermist, & guess who comes into Pixie Hollow? Emily. & she gave me a card: "Dear Tinkerbell & her friends, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily" Her dad didn't recognize me, but I was excited to have two cards from the same girl. a few days later, I was Mulan, & GUESS WHO COMES UP TO ME? So I said, before she started talking, "I know you , you're Emily! I heard you're really good at drawing flowers, all of my friends told me." This girl's face lit up like the Fourth of July & she pulled a card out. "Dear Mulan, Shang, & Mushu, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily." I have three cards for all three of my face characters from the same girl."
When asked what her favorite character was to play she responded, "Chip & Dale are the most fun, because all they do is troll people all day. Steal a water bottle? everybody laughs. Sit in a stroller? Hilarious. pretend to punch your character attendant in the testicles? BOY DO THEY LAUGH. They're so fun. & people love them!"
"When I worked there, I would go to the cafeteria & people would stare at me & not talk to me. Those people then would tell their friends I didn't say hi to them & that I wasn't friendly, but those people didn't make an effort to talk to me either," she said.
"That's how I think the whole 'all of the princesses are bitches' thing gets around."
10. There Are Multiple Princesses Around The Park At The Same Time
"It's a very cool operation. I haven't been at Disney since 2012, & a lot has changed since then. But if you think about it, Cinderella is in the Parade, doing breakfast, lunch, & dinner rotation at Cinderella's castle, & she is in the princess room. At Epcot she is at the Norway breakfast. She's also in the night time parade. She's also in the main stage show at Magic Kingdom. That's at least ten girls who are Cinderella in one day.
It's awesome to think about the fact that you never see two together. It's very cool, & very well planned."
She recounted a time when things got a little silly backstage: "One time in the break room I saw Cinderella & Snow White fit comfortably under Tiana's dress & when Belle came around the corner they popped out & scared her."
Her overall experience? "I loved it, but there is more drama there than a high school. I don't really get how hugging kids & working only 40 minutes out of every hour can be difficult. People find reasons to complain, though.
If you don't like a job, leave.
I wouldn't do it again, just because it's such a negative work space. Also, I have a lot of tattoos now & I don't think they'd take me back. Who knows, though," she said.