Disney World is the place to be for die-hard fans of the some of the most magical stories ever told. First opened in 1971, it is now the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an attendance of over 52 million people each year, with 14 of the original rides still up and running.
The park itself is the size of San Francisco or two Manhattans put together so it's no surprise they need a lot of staff to keep the place running. Disney World employs more than 74,000 cast members, spending more than $1.2 billion on payroll, which makes them the largest single-site employer in the United States.
Despite their attempts to keep the behind-the-scenes operations as secretive as possible so they can "keep the magic real", there was always bound to be staff members coming forward about what it's really like to work at Disney World.
One of the most popular features of the park is getting to meet a real-life Disney princess - whether it's Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Mulan, Tiana, Pocahontas, Ariel, Anna or Elsa - we just love them all. But is their job really as wonderful and bright as the big smiles on their faces? Thanks to a Reddit Q&A we have found that there are a lot of shocking secrets real-life Disney princesses were not supposed to spill.
15 It's Just Like Mean Girls
Even at a magical place like Disney World there are staff rivalries. In the words of one member of staff during the Reddit Q&A, they revealed "all of the princesses are b****es." They added, "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."
Harvard Business Review published an article How to Stop 'Mean Girls' in the Workplace, they advised it is better not to dwell on work place mean girls and also not to become more involved by spending time talking about their horrible behavior. Often turning to your next colleague to discuss the mean girls is just adding fuel to the fire. Once you start to become a commenter then you could be mistaken as a mean girl too.
14 They Don't Get A Choice In The Character They Play
If someone has their heart set on playing Belle or Cinderella then they can just forget it. The decision of who gets to wear which crown is down to a casting team. One Redditor and former Disney employee revealed, "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" they added, "You could look exactly like Cinderella, but if they do not need to hire any more Cinderellas, you may not get chosen."
According to Disney Dining online, the most popular characters are Cinderella shortly followed by Frozen's Elsa and Anna. Everyone still loves Mickey Mouse however and Walt Disney himself once said, "I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse."
13 But Everyone Has To Start Out In A Fur Costume
There are two types of characters at Disney World - fur characters and face characters. Anyone who auditions for a role at one of their parks has to first take on an entry position as a fur character - a Goofy or Donald Duck - before they can graduate as a Disney princess. They are also employee "look-alike" characters including mermaids and fairies to be scattered around the park.
Fur characters have to wear a giant, hot costume and can only communicate with the guests through certain gestures. One former park employee told Mental Floss, "(They had played) too many fur characters to count" including Chip and Dale, Winnie the Pooh, and six of Snow White’s seven dwarfs.
Disney also are very strict on what their employees say their actual job is, they demand all staffers avoid saying they "play a character" at the park - instead, to keep the magic alive, they must say they are "friends with" them.
12 They All Need To Be The Same Height
One Redditor revealed, "The audition process is pretty rigorous. The first cut is made within the first 15 minutes in regard to your height. If you don't fit the height requirement for any of the characters they're hiring for, then you get cut immediately." Disney is strict on these requirements as the performers will all need to fit into the same costume.
Elsa and Anna from Frozen, Rapunzel, and Jasmine all need to be between 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 7 inches, Wendy from Peter Pan and Alice from Alice in Wonderland must be slightly smaller than this, and Tinkerbell must be 4 feet 11 inches to 5 feet 2 inches. Those who are extra tall will play the villainesses, Maleficent must be between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet, and the Evil Queen from Snow White between 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches.
11 Auditions Can Last Up To Two Days
Former Disney princess Kristen Sotakoun, who worked as Pocahontas, told Mental Floss, "If you attend a look-alike audition, you literally stand there in a line, (and) they look at you." A former Snow White added, "They look at about 50 people at a time and go through rows of 10 to decide who gets cut for look alone. It's the biggest cut of the day." On audition day one there are typically 700 people trying out and this is cut to 150 by the end of the day.
On the second day, hopefuls have to learn a combination of dance steps to make sure they have that Disney magic when they are performing. Then they are placed in full hair and makeup before being asked to do a full character reading as the princess. Then after pictures are taken they are sent home and have to await their phone call from the casting agents.
10 They Can Barely Move In The Corsets
The Disney princess corsets are so tight that Emma Watson refused to wear one for the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast because she wanted to be able to move freely. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran told Entertainment Weekly, "In Emma's reinterpretation, Belle is an active princess. She did not want a dress that was corseted or that would impede her in any way." She also improved Belle's backstory so she has a history as an inventor giving her more to do than just being a "whimsical princess."
For the 2015 remake of Cinderella, actress Lily James' tiny waistline in her corset sparked controversy. She admitted to ABC News that she went on a liquid diet to fit into the 17-inch waistline the corset demanded. So it's no surprise that Watson has decided to throw out the rule book for future Disney princesses.
9 Princess Jasmine Needs To Do Plenty Of Sit Ups
There are certain requirements a Disney princess must meet that can not be avoided. Redditors revealed that although hair and eye color are not important - nothing wigs and contact lessons can't change - staff are required to have a pretty face and a "slender build." Even the fur characters who are kept hidden behind costumes all day have to stick to these rules too.
A slender build is also essential for those who want to take on the role as Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. As her costume is midriff-baring it's required that they have a "toned mid-section" which means laying off the pizza and instead indulging in plenty of sit ups. The character with the most grueling workout plan is Tarzan as he needs to be of "strong, athletic, muscular build, and very toned physique."
8 Pochantus Gets Hit On - A Lot
So it turns out that when it comes to dressing up as fictional characters - men just can't seem to restrain themselves. One Redditor revealed, "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."
She also claimed that some of the guests would even want to take her on a date away from the park, adding, "I'd get slipped the occasional phone number on a napkin, but nothing ridiculous has ever happened."
7 They Can Be Blocked From Working If They Don't Look The Part
Another grueling part of transforming into their roles as a Disney princess is spending a whole hour each shift getting their hair and makeup done. They do have to learn this skill themselves, which usually comes as part of their training, and Disney provides their makeup as part of the uniform.
If they don't look the part then they will be 'disapproved' from the park. A former Belle told Cosmopolitan, "Most of the drama in cosmo happens when someone gets disapproved, or not allowed to go out on set. One girl got disapproved because her arms got too chubby. Another girl had a very bad acne breakout all over her face, and they disapproved her. Then everyone talks about whether she should or shouldn't have been disapproved - it's awkward."
6 The Costumes Can Cause Serious Injury
The costumes can weigh as much as 47 pounds and a report showed that in this uniform caused 773 injuries in total; with 49 reports related directly to actual eight of the costumes. A former Minnie Mouse suffered whiplash when a park guest picked her up and shook her, the large weight of the cartoon head caused such an injury that she had to be placed on disability leave.
The princesses can have a tough time too when someone pulls on their gown "too hard or too aggressively. A former staff member told Mental Floss that "guests forget sometimes that what they are doing could hurt us." The most common being when the children run up to the princesses for a big hug and due to the tight corsets, the wind is knocked out of them.
5 They Have To Put Up With Super Weird Guests
One Redditor revealed, "(I was) having fun with this little girl who was about 5. Her mom was with her, & the girl was being silly & running around laughing at us & talking a lot. We stood together, & the mom said "Stand between them!" The little girl all of a sudden got really shy, & ran to her mom & 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 & smiled. She then proceeded to lick her mom's face, from her chin to her forehead."
Another former Pocahontas revealed, "It's pretty difficult, just because she was a real person that a majority of children learn about in school. So it was always hard to try & change the conversation about why I'm standing there talking to them & not dead. One time a little british boy said to me "MY CLASS VISITED YOUR GRAVE LAST YEAR!!!!!!!!!!"
Despite it being illegal, people still attempt to spread the ashes of the deceased on the rides too.
4 They Are Banned From Singing
If you think Jasmine is going to start breaking out into A Whole New World, or Aerial will treat you to a rendition of Part Of Your World then you can just forget it. All Disney princesses are banned from breaking out into song - if the guests start singing right at them then the best they can do is just stand there, clapping and nodding accordingly.
A completely different set of trained performers are hired for the on-site shows, they are professional musical performers and considered completely seperate from the park characters. Also as they are represented by the Actors' Equity Association they tend to take home a larger paycheck too. A former staff member told Cosmopolitan, "At Disney when I started, it was $7.15 an hour with a face character premium of $2.50 an hour. So, $9.65 an hour - not great, but you go through a whole training where they show you all these mushy movies about Walt Disney and his life just to make you feel like, 'OMG, I really love this company!'"
3 Disney Schedule Breaks With Military Precision
Over the course of a day, there can be as many as ten Disney princesses working at the same time, but they should never meet in the park and spoil the illusion so their breaks are timed with military precision.
One Redditor revealed, "There were three Princess rooms. One Cinderella, Aurora, & Belle in each one. If all three rooms were operating, that means when the girls went on break, other girls would replace them. So there were a total of six Cinderellas around the area at a time. None of the guests know this because there are attendants to take them into each room, one group at a time. So a group of thirty will go into room one, thirty go into room two, etc. etc."
She added, "It's a very cool operation.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."
2 They Have To Audition For Their Job Every Year
The job security of Tinkerbell is non-existent as every year the Disney princesses need to re-audition for their roles. One former employee said this was to make sure "your silhouette hasn't changed." Management checks each girl still had a nice complexion, slim figure, and they generally still fit into the costumes that were originally signed to them.
A former Belle also told Cosmopolitan magazine that she would have to always be body conscious when working in the park. She revealed, "Some of the princesses did cleanses to stay fit; a lot the girls were naturally thin. We'd go to the gym after work or do workout videos together during our breaks. The refrigerator in our break room was literally Lean Cuisines and those sugar-free Jell-Os with 10 calories."
1 They Are Physically Beat Up By The Kids
Everyone knows that despite their lack of height, kids sure can be aggressive and even violent. Getting beat up at the park by over-excitable kids is just part of the job. The only thing is, despite the pain they have to endure, Disney princesses are never allowed to break character - so they just have to put up and shut up. Of the 773 staff injuries reported at the park, 107 were from to pushing, pulling, and other aggressive behaviors from guests.
If they want to rant about their crummy day on social media then they can forget it as this is banned too. One Redditor revealed, "Social media is a big problem there, we weren't allowed to post or talk about the things we did as a character, or even to tell people what character we were."