I’ve always been pretty sure I was destined to be a Disney character, so a few years ago I did something sort of backwards. I left the Big Apple for an audition in Orlando, Florida, to pursue a job as a Professional Disney Princess (P.D.P.)
My mom drove me to the audition, which was held in a pretty un-Disney-like warehouse off the Walt Disney World premises. I was all dolled up, wearing a poufy floral dress, high heels, and fake eyelashes. As my mom dropped me off, driving our rented red Corvette and wearing an Alice in Wonderland costume (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was later that evening), we watched a bunch of people wearing gym clothes filing into the building.
“Those people look like shit,” my mom said. “You’re going to kick their asses.”
I did a little courtesy as I hopped out of the car and probably gave a big wink.
The thing is, I had assumed that the audition to be a P.D.P. would be a basic, one-step process. I’d go, they’d take a look at me, compliment me on my cute outfit, and be convinced I’d make the perfect Tinkerbell.
As it turns out, those sloppy-looking people headed to the audition were on to something. As it turns out, most of them were character handlers in the park and wanted to break out of their babysitter roles and land jobs as actual characters. Turns out most of them had auditioned several times before. They thought I was insane for coming all the way from New York City.
“And the dance routine is going to be really hard to do in high heels,” Molly, a girl I had befriended, told me.
Not just any dance routine. We had to memorzie moves set to a techno version of It’s A Small World. And we had to do it better than everyone else. (And I had to do it in heels.)
Of the 85-ish auditioners, there was one girl who already looked like a replica of Princess Aurora. Oh, we’re all screwed, I thought as she kicked her leg up over her head (show off) during the dance number.
At the end they sat us down like we were pre-schoolers at Show and Tell and started calling names. Princess Aurora’s name was first. This gang, I assumed, was the winning gang. The rest of us were losers. It took forever, but they narrowed it down to about 20 people.
“This group,” the leader started, “is moving on to the second part of the audition. Congratulations.”
What? Princess Aurora was canned? I looked at Molly, the seasoned pro, incredulously.
“She’s way too tall,” she told me.
Ha! Finally being short would work in my favor. Hasta la vista, you beautiful princess-looking model-girl. Ha!
The second part of the audition involved acting. We were told we had one minute to silently act out a scenario in which we woke up in our beds and realized we had slept through our alarms. What would we do? Eat breakfast? Take a shower? Do yoga? (I fed my imaginary cats.) Then we were given a debriefing on Disney Characters 101, studying clips of Goofy and Donald cartoons.
We were instructed not to spill the beans on anything that went down that day (oops). This was some top secret, highly classified Disney shit. Nobody on the outside could know that we watched Goofy’s The Art Of Skiing to get inspiration for high-fiving kids and writing autographs. If we were to get a job as a character, we were never to refer to ourselves as that character. Like, I couldn’t say, “I’m Tinkerbell.” I can’t be Tinkerbell, there is only one Tinkerbell duh. If someone were to ask what my profession was, I’d have to say I was Tinkerbell’s friend. Which makes it sound like I am her lesbian lover. But whatever.
At the end, they weeded us out even more. And in the last minutes, there were three people left. Me, Molly, and a really, freakishly short woman who looked like she was 35.
“You made it!” They said. They wanted Miss Tiny to start right away. She was going to make the perfect Mickey Mouse, they told her. She exploded into a jump and bounced away in happiness, just like a cartoon character would.
I mentally cleared my calendar forever and imagined myself moving to Orlando. New York City, I love you. But you can’t make me Tinkerbell.
That was years ago and Disney has not yet called. I am still waiting.
I Facebook friended Molly and though we haven’t talked, I have been able to follow her through cheery pictures and Facebook status updates about her bomb-ass job as one of Tinkerbell’s friends. “Who wants to switch Tink shifts with me at the Magical parade tonight?” She’ll post. Each photograph of her wearing fairy wings breaks my heart.
What does Molly have that I don’t have? Why was she called back, while I was not?
Who am I kidding? Look at her. She is fucking adorable.
Life is so unfair sometimes.