March 7 2016
If you apply for the Disney College Program and specify interest in being a Character Performer on your application, you will need to attend a Character Performer audition in order to be considered for the role. Character performers include: fur characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, etc), character look-alikes (Disney princesses), and parade performers.
What you may be cast as is contingent upon your look and height.
Character Performer auditions are held in several states all across the country. To find out which cities they’re being held in, and more specific information on each individual audition (such as dates, times, location), as well as some FAQ’s, you can go to: https://disneyprogramsblog.com/disney-college-program-auditions/.
As stated on the Disney Programs Blog, “performers of all levels – from those who have never danced to those who have strong performing experience – are welcome.”
I attended my second Character Performer audition for the Disney College Program yesterday in Phoenix, Arizona. I woke up at 8:30 am, laid in my bed, and internally debated for a couple minutes whether to make the hour and a half drive to attend auditions. I’d already been accepted, would it even be worth going to these auditions? I had to leave my house by 9 am if I wanted to make it on time and it was already 8:30. Could I get ready in 30 minutes? Screw it. I hopped out of bed, jumped in the shower, and got ready with a speed I didn’t know I was capable of. I got on the road to audition once more for Disney. After all, besides Spanish… what else did I have to do that day?
While I knew a bit more about what to expect during my second time at the auditions, it was still a nerve-wracking process. I am in no way a dancer and have very little performing experience; however, you’d be surprised at how many other non-dancers come out to these auditions too!
Allow me to give you a run-down of the audition process:
- Get there early. Now you don’t need to be there like two hours before the audition time, but try to get there a little bit before the sign-in time.
- Sign in: my first time attending auditions, they had each one of us line up and take turns signing in on one computer. However, this second time around was much more efficient: when we first arrived they gave us our numbered sticker to put on and then later on they had us sign in online on our phones.
- First round: Depending on how many people attend auditions, they’ll split everyone up into groups of around 50 people to audition in the first round. If you aren’t in the first 50, you’ll be placed in a separate room to wait until it’s your group’s turn. In this first round, you’ll be doing some sort of animation in addition to a short two 8 count dance/march. You’ll practice both the animation and dance all together a few times through and then the time comes for you to strut your stuff for the casting director! Don’t worry, it’s not individual. You’ll have a small group to perform the animation and dance with.
- First round cuts: After everyone completes the animation and dance, you’ll all come together again, the casting director will talk to you, and then cuts will be made. If the casting director calls out the number on your sticker, congratulations! You’ve made it to the second round! If your number was not called out, don’t feel bad at all! You rocked the animation, and you rocked the dance! You probably made a few cool friends at the auditions, stepped out of your comfort zone, and got to see first-hand what it was like to audition for the entertainment department at Disney! Be proud! There’s so many people that audition for Disney all the time and being so competitive, they can’t take everyone. Maybe you weren’t what Disney was looking for at this exact moment, but it may be your time next time around!
- Waiting, paperwork, pictures, measurements and more waiting: If you’ve made it to the second round, you’ll be taken out of the audition room and everyone will fill out a Disney Auditions information card. Pictures will be taken of your face and number, and if you have any tattoos or non-traditional ear piercings, pictures will be taken of those too. You’ll wait until the rest of the groups are done auditioning and filling out their paper work, and then everyone who made it to the second round will come back together in the audition room. Once everyone is all together, height measurements will be taken for each person. P.S. Apparently there’s no such thing as “Disney height”, as said by yesterday’s Casting Director.
- Second round: In the second round, you will practice a more in depth and creative animation, as well as a longer and more challenging dance. The choreographers will go over the dance several times, adding new pieces little by little, and will happily be answering any questions you have about it. After you learn the new dance, you’ll once again all be taken out into a separate room and in numerical order, people will go into the audition room to perform the animation and dance in groups of four. It’s definitely a little bit intimidating to be four on one with the casting director, but do your best and remember to smile!
- Next steps: After you perform for the casting director, you’ll receive your “next steps” paper, instructing you on what to do and expect after the auditions. Additionally after you perform, you may be asked to stay if they wish to see a bit more of you, take more pictures, take more measurements, or ask you more questions.
There you have the Disney College Program Character Performer Audition process! Easy enough, right?
Here are some tips that might make the audition process a little easier and a little less nerve-wracking:
- Always smile! Even if you don’t know what the hell you’re supposed to be doing in the dance, forget some steps, or feel stupid, don’t let that smile leave your face.
- “Be The Cartoon Version of Yourself”: This piece of advice came from the casting director himself. Disney is all about larger than life animations, over the top gestures, and energy and excitement! Step out of your shell, run away from that comfort zone, and pretend you’re a character working for Disney!
- Go Big or Go Home: Like I said, Disney is looking for big movements, large animations, and crazy and silly, and for lack of a better word, “over dramatic” actions. You can’t reduce your actions to the scale of every day life. You need to act as though your interacting with some across the Grand Canyon. Don’t worry about looking silly and don’t hold back!
- Bring Water: You’ll be dancing, sweating, doing over the top animations… you’ll get thirsty and tired, so bring your own water bottle!
- Meet People & Make Friends: Everyone here is probably just as nervous as you are. All the people in this room want to work for Disney just as you do, and if that isn’t an indicator of the type of the people you’re surrounded with here, then I don’t know what is! If someone longs to work for Disney, chances are they’re probably going to be a pretty kind, welcoming, supportive, and excited individual. Surround yourself with it and make some friends! Having someone to talk to and laugh with during the auditions makes the process that much better.
- Animation is Key: Honestly, the animation part is what Disney is really looking at. They don’t care how good of a dancer you are, they want to see how well and big you can animate yourself. Focus on that, and if you rock the dance in addition to that, GO YOU!
What To Wear: The Disney Programs Blog suggests “comfortable clothing that allows a free range of movement. It is not not recommended to wear a dress, skirt, or tight jeans. Please do not come dressed in a costume.” As for shoes: “you should bring a clean pair of dance shoes or sneakers to change into upon your arrival. Character heels, jazz heels, or any type of high heel shoe are not allowed in these studios. Please do not wear flip flops.”
I personally wore a black tank top, sports bra, long black athletic leggings, and my blue Nikes.
No matter how daunting the auditions may feel and seem, the ambiance eases it all! This isn’t just any ol’ regular audition, this is a Disney audition. You’re going to be surrounded with the sweetest and most supportive recruiters and casting directors, other Disney lovers, and the ambiance of the audition is pure fun and excitement!
If you’re even just thinking about going, I strongly suggest you do it! You have nothing to lose, you’ll have a ton of fun, you’ll step outside of your comfort zone, you’re guaranteed to meet some pretty awesome people, and your cheeks will hurt from smiling so much (not because you’re forcing yourself to, just because you’re having that much fun)!
It’s better to just go now, than to wish weeks later that you would’ve.