As much as many of us love Disney, we don't know too much about the ins and outs of the company. It's very protective of its brand to maintain the Disney magic, and cast members can even get fired for sharing backstage photos on social media. While we'd like to keep some of the mystery alive, we can't help but wonder about the other secrets we don't know about. So, we looked to iAMAs where we found a former Disneyland Snow White and a former Disney World cast member who played Mulan, Pocahontas, and Silvermist the Fairy. Let's start off by saying that being a Disney princess is no easy job, and becoming one is even more difficult. Check out 18 interesting secrets that are sure to surprise you.
1. Please tell me you sign as Disney character for receipts!
"I used to on accident! I signed 'Mulan' about 1000 times a day at work, you eventually get handed paper and do it without thinking."
2. Is it true that characters from different worlds can't acknowledge each other? Tigger wouldn't know who Cinderella is, for example.
"That isn't true. We are all in the Disney Universe. Unless our characters specifically don't know about each other (Tinkerbell hadn't met Peter Pan in her Direct-to-DVD movies, so as Silvermist, I didn't know who Peter Pan was and was supposed to act confused when guests would mention him to me), they can mix their stories. As Mulan, I would tell kids that Cinderella wanted me to bring something other than noodles to her tea party, so I'd ask them what food I should bring. It was always chicken nuggets."
3. Did you ever have kids tell you that you weren't the real thing? How did you handle that?
"Chinese people would always tell me to speak Chinese and 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."
4. Is it true that many of the princes are gay in real life?
"More than half. Maybe like 70/30? Of course, I didn't know all of them personally, but if I had to guesstimate, that's what I would say."
5. What's one of the weirdest things you've seen a coworker do while still dressed in a character costume?
"One time in the break room I saw Cinderella and Snow White fit comfortably under Tiana's dress, and when Belle came around the corner they popped out and scared her."
6. Do adults hit on you?
"I was hit on as Pocahontas more than Mulan or Silvermist, and 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 and 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. But it's probably a different story for the Princess Jasmines, who are wearing just a bra and parachute pants."
7. How did you feel when people would ask you for your autograph?
"Excited. Snow White has always been my favorite princess, but she's really underappreciated these days and a lot of people overlook her at the park. A lot of kids don't even know who she is, so it was always exciting when somebody wanted my autograph."
8. What kind of training are you put through for this job?
"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 and autograph practice, and 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 one is watching the movie, learning how to walk, talk, and act, and day two is meet-and-greets with guests. I think there may be an additional day for accents (ex. Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins), but none of my three face roles had accents, so I'm not sure."
9. What's your favorite thing that only employees get to do?
"I loved getting out of work and going to Epcot with my friends to drink around the world. I miss that the most."
10. Was it hard to maintain a "magical" attitude when you had bad days?
"It is like any job in hospitality. People are paying money to receive a certain experience, and your job is [to] accommodate them. If I was ever upset about something in my life, there would be at least one child/parent who would be so awesome and make me remember how great the job is. That sounds so stupid. But it's true. It's a cool job."
11. Who decides which role you portray and when?
"There is an entire casting team who chooses what role you play. You attend auditions, which involve acting like the character, dressing up like the character, and having photos taken of you. You then wait and they call you if you are approved. There are a lot of rumors involving the process of picking characters. You do not have any say in what character they fit you in. They do not tell you why you are not chosen for that character. You could look exactly like Cinderella, but if they do not need to hire any more Cinderellas, you may not get chosen. People lie about what happens at their auditions all of the time; 'they told me I was too fat,' 'they said my skin wasn't dark enough.' They never tell anyone these things. They either say yes or no."
12. Did you have a favorite character/costume?
"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 and people love them!"
13. What was the costuming routine like?
"You are scheduled to clock in one hour before your first meet and greet. This is when you do your makeup and get your costume on. They provide all of the makeup and each character has a specific makeup profile with specific colors. You're taught how to do the makeup in your training for the character."
14. What is the creepiest interaction you've had with a child? Adult?
"This will always be my number one creep Disney story: I was Silvermist and we were meeting our last family of the night in Pixie Hollow. Tinkerbell, Rosetta, and I were having fun with this little girl who was about five. Her mom was with her and the girl was being silly and running around laughing at us and talking a lot. You take individual pictures with the fairies, but we decided to ask if she wanted a special picture with all three of us. We stood together and the mom said, 'Stand between them!' The little girl all of a sudden got really shy, and ran to her mom and hid. Her mom said, 'Oh no, are you being a little stinker? I know, if you give mommy a lick will you feel better?' The little girl nodded and smiled. She then proceeded to lick her mom's face, from her chin to her forehead. She laughed, her mom laughed, and Tinkerbell, Rosetta, and me are standing there horrified at the M. Night Shyamalan twist this meet and greet has taken. The little girl happily walked over to us and took the picture after she did it. Never forget."
15. Are there any special perks of the job?
"It was cool to be able to go into the park with my friends whenever I wanted, get my family in for free, and get discounted stuff in the park all the time."
16. Have you ever ruined a kid's childhood by acting out of character?
"I worked a 14-hour day and saw the last family, who were nice, but I wanted to go home. They exited the room and I immediately pulled off my wig and went, 'Awwww yessss!!!!' The little girl ran back in and said, 'Bye guys! Bye Tinkerbell! Bye Silvermist! Bye Rosetta!' I was holding my weave in my hand. RIP child's dreams."
17. What was your favorite part of playing a face character, and which fellow FC was the meanest?
"I'd like to be able to say something like seeing the smiles on kids' faces was the best part (and that was definitely a perk, don't get me wrong), but honestly? The best part of playing a face character was the satisfaction of knowing that I was Snow White, and I beat out a lot of other beautiful, talented girls for the part. And I won't say any names, but there was a girl who played Tinkerbell that was just absolutely unbearable. Luckily we didn't cross paths much."
18. Is it true that characters have to go through autograph training, so that a Snow White autograph that you get today is the same as one that you got 30 years ago from another Snow White?
"Yes. It's part of the training program."
— Additional reporting by Haley Lyndes