Ever wonder what it’s like under the costume? Heatstroke, getting hit on by Furries, and accidentally traumatizing children are just a few of the things that Disney characters and mascots have to put up with on the regular. From heart-warming and wholesome to terrifying and weird, these people took to Reddit to share their experiences of being in costume.
My friend had to dress up as Bob the Tomato from Veggie Tales for his job.
Like many of the full-character costumes, this one had a fan to help keep the person cool. Unfortunately, this one did the opposite of keeping my friend cool because it malfunctioned and CAUGHT ON FIRE.
Nothing horrifies children (or the person in the costume) quite like seeing their favorite cartoon begin to cook in front of them.
I was playing Goofy inside a restaurant and I got swarmed Aliens-style by a horde of kids—but that was just the start of my nightmare. Unfortunately, while I was playing around with them, the inner hood below the mask slipped over my eyes and I was completely blinded. We had assistants around whom we could signal for help by flapping our arms, but the kids had made it a game of attaching themselves Tarzan-like to both my arms and to raise them I would have had to lift 3-4 kids per arm—dangerous even if I'd been strong enough to do that.
I found myself blind and completely rooted to the spot, unable to ask for help and with nobody realizing that I was in trouble. I spent a solid 10-15 minutes in that sort of limbo reflecting on the life decisions that had taken me there until the assistant came over and whispered "set is over dude" and I finally managed to signal something was wrong.
I dated a girl that played one of the fairies for the Tinkerbell place. Beyond the pretty much daily occurrence of old dads hitting on her (she was 19 at the time) the weirdest thing to happen to her was a woman with a four-year-old daughter who was all excited to get a picture with Tinkerbell, who was busy. My ex volunteered to do pictures and entertain the little girl while they waited.
The woman was having none of that, rudely saying she was here to see Tinkerbell and not "off-brand" fairies. So just shrugging it off, my ex moved on. A bit later, she hears a commotion, and Tinkerbell is obviously upset, so security shows up. Apparently, this woman was Tinkerbell's bio mom and had taken her granddaughter to Disney, just to break the restraining order against her.
That’s how she learned Disney Jail is a real place.
I saw this when I was a kid at Disney World in the 70s. This guy's girlfriend wanted him to do a picture with Chip and Dale, but the guy didn't want to. Chip grabbed him in a headlock and his girlfriend snapped the photo. It was funny—but then chaos broke out.
When Chip let go, the guy came up swinging. Dale had to jump in and break them up, as Chip started swinging back. For a kid of 12, it was awesome!
In the 90s, My mom used to work for the company that owns Kool-Aid. She was in charge of supplying several commissaries (army base grocery stores) and I usually did odd work for her like stocking or building displays.
A few times, I got to put on the Kool-Aid Man costume. It was hard to see anything since the viewports were the eyes, and mouth and they were super dark tinted plastic.
I was placed in between two racks of snack cakes and was scared to move much as I might knock them over. So I stood there for probably a half hour still as a statue while waiting to see people.
This small kid, maybe 3 or 4, comes up to me with his mom. His eyes were so big and he was adorably in awe. I saw him and bent down to say hello and scared the living daylights out of that poor kid. He BOLTED directly away from me, screaming in terror. I lumbered after him for about 5 steps ..trying to placate him and tell him I was friendly…before realizing I was just making more nightmare fuel for this poor little dude. His mom was laughing so hard she fell over.
I worked at 6 Flags over Texas. I was on trash detail, wandering through Looney Tunes land. Laying on the ground in the shade, being handed water and rags is a girl I don't know. Turns out, she'd heat-stroked from being in a mascot suit. In Texas. In July. Also turns out she's the 3rd to do that TODAY. So my dumb self wanders in, and gets asked if I want a promotion to mascot. Uh...YES I do!
So I get a crash course in mascot etiquette, don my suit, and stroll out to face the world! So here I am in a black fur suit when it's 125 degrees. I'm out the gate for maybe 3 minutes, and it all goes wrong. For those of you guessing heat stroke, I wish. I hear the pelting of tiny feet, and turn to look. Here's this maybe 6-year-old kid, running full tilt, eyes locked onto me. I figure the kid must REALLY love Sylvester, and stand, spread eagle, ready for the love and adoration of children.
Instead, that little brat gets about 4 feet from me and goes to a knee. Still full speed. His arm goes back so far I think his knuckles scraped asphalt. And then he unleashes it. The only thing missing was the flaming bird and the kid actually yelling "FALCON!! PUUUNCH"!
While his cosplay was missing some things, his aim did not. The kid managed to nail me in the center mass of my right ball. I screamed in an octave usually reserved for bats and dog whistles, and collapsed in a heap. As I proceeded to teach that child every possible combination of every possible curse word I was dragged back to the employee alleyway I had started from, and they retired the suit for the day.
When I was a young and shy boy, we went to Disney World and at one point we planned on getting some pictures with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Before we got any pictures taken with them, Minnie apparently took a liking to me and started pointing to me and blowing kisses at me, to which my young self responded by nervously hiding behind my parents' legs.
Seeing this, she then walked over and attempted to hug me which caused me to sprint away, but she ran after me with her arms still held out for a hug! We didn’t go overly far, and on return, my mom managed to get me to give Minnie a hug with some persuasion. Every so often, the time Minnie Mouse fell in love with me and chased me around Disney World comes up at the dinner table again. At the time I was terrified but looking back, that is actually a really wholesome memory that I have.
I worked in guest services at a new aquarium after high school. I was too tall for the octopus mascot suit, but my best friend wasn't. I did get to hang out with him outside the aquarium as a guard, to make sure nothing crazy happened, I guess.
It was hot, but he had a fan inside the costume, but it made it harder to hear so I had to semi-yell at him "on your left" when kids came from other directions he couldn't see.
One time he turned too fast—and I paid a brutal price. He put his arm up the heavy wire mesh tentacle hit me right in the balls and put me on my knees. I couldn't breathe and only remember the bricks on the sidewalk looking pink, not red. He didn't know anything had happened so the tentacle hit me in the head before a nice bystander helped me up and started walking me back to the aquarium entrance. I've never iced my crotch before or since, but it helped.
My son is neurodivergent and when he was four, all he wanted was to meet Elsa and Baymax. Baymax made him cry and then when he met Elsa, all he wanted to do was talk to her about everything. The handlers tried to move us along understandably as the line was long but this woman literally took the handler’s hand off my son and said, “No, this young man waited to speak to me and he will stay and speak to me until he decides he is done”. I cried. My son hugged her so hard because in that moment a stranger saw him.
I worked at a hotel/resort chain with a wolf as a mascot. Donning the outfit and greeting people at check-in after getting high on break was always a lot of fun.
Once, after a particularly long break, I pulled the suit on, walked into the lobby—and made a jaw-dropping discovery.
We were hosting a convention for little people. The half-hour I spent in a 7-foot wolf costume dapping up little people was one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had.
I was one of the performers for Nick Wilde from Zootopia a few years ago, And if you’re not aware; a large number of people in the furry community find him highly attractive.
You can just imagine the number of people in that community who flirted with me and/or Judy and whispered some pretty suggestive things to us. I think I also had a guy grab Nick’s tie in that flirty way, we had to get him thrown out of the park.
The moral of the story is: don’t be inappropriate with the characters, we are real people underneath and there are legitimate consequences for that kind of behavior.
I was a “mouse height” performer at Disney World around 2013. I can, unfortunately, confirm grabbing happened from time to time and it was incredibly uncomfortable. We were trained to move away if we could and signal to the character attendants to take the guest away if they tried anything—but that’s not the worst thing that happened.
One time some guy thought it appropriate to pick me up completely off the ground in a bear hug. The head pushed back and, because the inside is connected to us with headgear and a chin strap, my neck bent back with it and it hurt like crazy.
One of my most memorable guest experiences was meeting a little blind boy as Mickey in Epcot. I gently guided his hands to the soft ears, then the nose, and bow tie and he was laughing and his smile lit up the whole room. I still get emotional thinking about it! Interactions like that made it all worth it to me at the time.
Long story short: my wife surprised me with a trip to Sea World in Ohio. Inside the gate was the costume actor for Shamu. Since my wife is short and I am tall, the actor sat down on the bench with me on one side and my wife on the other to have our photograph taken.
Shamu held us in close and my hand naturally fell on their thigh. I'm feeling a roll in the plush fabric and imagining how hot it must feel inside that costume—when I make a disturbing realization. It was his crotch I was feeling up. A picture is taken with Shamu's dork in my hand and we leave the area. My wife falls over laughing as I tell her what happened. She asks if it was a happy ending.
When I was a Disney character, the weirdest thing for sure was when the super-rich Saudi prince investor (I don’t think they have shares anymore) came over and we had to do basically anything he said. One time he wanted the whole duck family in his suite, so he literally had Huey, Dewey, & Louie shipped over from Florida as Paris didn’t have the costumes. I was Scrooge. We had to go to his suite overlooking Main Street one morning and hand out random certificates to his friends for achievements including “being at Disneyland Paris”.
Another time when they launched the Marie costume, he threw a massive party in the conference room of one of the hotels and requested a ton of characters. I was Robin Hood (who didn’t usually go out at the time due to a dodgy tail). One of the most surreal moments of my life to date was dancing around a room to “Eeeverybody, eeeverybody, eeeverybody wants to beee a cat, hallelujah" with dozens of totally random Disney characters, while fake snow came down from the ceiling and disco lights went crazy. Meanwhile, Saudi prince and his crew were all at these big round reception tables just chillin’ and watching us while we sweated for their entertainment. Good times.
A friend of mine was Elsa when Frozen was really big. She was basically built for the role, being a blonde, blue-eyed, absurdly pretty girl from Norway. She spoke Norwegian, English, German, and Russian all fluently, and knew American Sign Language, so she could communicate with a lot of kids even if they didn’t speak English.
She told me “You don’t understand. Frozen is so big right now, when ‘Anna’ and I step out into public we are gods. I’ve had grown adults collapse at my feet and just hold my hand. I can ward off a handler trying to hustle a family with a look. This level of popularity won’t last long, but right now I am the queen of Disney Land”!
She adored it. Seeing kids’ faces light up, getting to make their day, even if it was just a brief wave during a walk through the park. One of her favorite stories was about this little boy whose name was Benji. He ran up to her and said “Hi, I’m Benji”! in a way that inspired her to say “Hi, Benji, you remind me of my friend Olaf”!
Benji apparently adored Olaf, and finding out Elsa thought he was like Olaf just made his day. Later in the day she was part of some other event and saw him in the crowd, so she said hi to him by name and he just lost it. “Elsa remembered my name! MOM! SHE REMEMBERED MY NAME”!
She could still hear him screaming with delight even as they moved out of sight.
I used to be a handler that walked around the stadium with a Major League Baseball mascot. I’ll just come out and say it—it was the Oriole Bird.
I’d say sports mascots are in an even more of a precarious situation for the actors: sports fans can be intense, they aren’t always at the game with their kids, and they can be unruly. I saw that poor Oriole Bird get punched, have beer dumped in his mouth, shoved downstairs, put in a headlock, challenged to fights—all sorts of wild stuff.
But the guy who played the bird didn’t take a lot of flak. He was a bit like one of those palace guards in London. It might take him a while to fight back—but you didn’t want to be on the other end of it when he did.
As a handler, part of our job was to prevent him from snapping and fighting back too hard. Like they used to joke that Mike Tyson had bodyguards—not for him, but for the other people.
So basically we were there to stop a six-foot mascot from going hulk mode on wild sports fans.
I once saw a Tampa Bay Lightning fan who tried to beat up the Florida Panthers’ mascot. What happened was late in the 3rd Period (5 minutes left in the game), the Panthers were winning 7-1 and a Tampa Bay Lightning fan was upset, saw their mascot, which is a rat (a weird piece of Panthers lore) and he tried to put his jersey on him or something, I’m sure the guy in the mascot suit provoked him or something.
So then after the guy tried to put it on him (it wouldn’t fit obviously) the mascot took it from the guy and tossed it down the arena. The fan’s reaction was chilling. He takes the mascot’s jersey and covers his face, pins him onto a railing, and puts him in a headlock. No one tried to stop him because I’m not sure if security was supposed to help or his handlers aren’t allowed to intervene or not, but the fan got his jersey and sat back down in his seat.
Some say it was fake and staged for the game, but it wouldn’t happen during play down 6 goals with 5 minutes left I feel. They said an investigation would happen, but I haven’t heard a thing about it since.
I worked at a certain famous chocolate park. The suit was WAY too big on me. The safety pin holding the pants up popped, my pants fell down, I tripped, and my big shoe came flying off and hit a kid. I was immediately fired even though it was not my fault.
I worked at Chuck E Cheese. When I was in costume on a busy day, we could do the happy birthday dance for all the parties at once. I was in the middle of the song when a dad came up on stage in front of about 250 people and threatened to beat me up because I was scaring his kid.
I was an Easter bunny. The kids were loving it but I guess the head hadn't been cleaned out in a while—and it led to a horrifying experience. A little ways into my first time doing it a brown recluse spider started to crawl down into the head. I was surrounded by kids and tried to keep my cool until they left, then I ran to the back and screamed as I grabbed the head and threw it away.
I played Cinderella’s stepsisters. The number of adults that wanted me to kiss their kids when they were so, so against it or scared is messed up. Talk about consent issues!
I was a musician and my favorite thing was seeing Snow White smoking on the loading dock wearing a “Cleveland Streamers” t-shirt. A close second was Goofy with his head off by the castle lighting a blunt.
When I was 10 or 11, we were at Six Flags over Georgia. My uncle struck up a bizarre deal. He said, "I'll buy you a 4-wheeler if you go tackle that mascot". I believe it was Taz. We were on a ramp of sorts or inclined path.
I said, "So if I get him on the ground I get an ATV"?
We shook on that line, I walked behind Taz and "tripped" over my shoelace into him and we both fell on the floor. I apologized, no harm done, and I got an ATV 4 weeks later. Though my uncle did complain because I didn't "tackle" him, but his definition of "tackle" wasn't in the handshake deal. Mine was.
I was felt up by Minnie Mouse as I stood between Minnie and Mickey and my girlfriend snapped a photo. Her hands were all over my butt and I was like "Take the picture" through a forced smile. I told her what happened as we were walking away and she said, "You know...sometimes guys wear the Minnie costume". I said, "Gee, thanks”.
My sister-in-law had a great time working for Disney after college. One time she saw a horribly failed marriage proposal. Like "There must be a misunderstanding. we're just friends. I never thought of you like that" situation. So I guess this guy's power move was to take her to Disney as friends and then the magic of Disney World would make her fall in love like Cinderella or something? It didn't work. Poor dude. Poor woman. That's an awkward rest of the trip.
I brought my kids to Disneyland for my daughter's birthday last year. She's a huge Nightmare Before Christmas fan so we waited 45 minutes to meet Jack Skellington and get a picture. There was a woman in front of us in her mid to late 30s who was obviously intoxicated but appeared to be alone getting increasingly excited. She asked me if I was also a Skellingator? When I asked what that was she giggled and said she always had a crush on Jack Skellington and wanted to try her hand at bedding him, mask on.
It was her turn…and I watched the trainwreck that followed. She sauntered up to him and persisted to "flirt" with him. He did his playful back and forth as Jack but you could tell he was getting irritated as were the rest of us. She was told she needed to move along so she tried a last-ditch effort telling him she would do him there and then behind the haunted mansion before trying to grab him by the privates. I never saw someone being led away so quickly!
My friend was an athlete in college and one of the few people outside of basketball who was tall enough to wear the mascot uniform. She often would volunteer to wear it during freshman move-in. One of the rules was she wasn't allowed to talk.
Well, the parents of a freshman girl wanted their daughter to get a picture with the mascot, who is a male character, so my friend put her arm around the girl. The father kept making remarks about watching her hands and making sure they didn't wander. My friend got so uncomfortable with the comments she finally told the dad that she was, in fact, a straight woman.
When I was little, I silently and patiently waited for Tigger’s autograph. He went on break before I could get his signature in my little book. So my mom was like “Hey Tigger, please sign her book” and he was like “I’m on a break”. Her reaction was chilling.
She leaned in really close and told him he better sign my book and gave him a look that scared him because he definitely signed my book after that and walked away quickly.
No security came or anything. Tigger from the early 90s, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry but my mom would and still will punch Tigger or anyone else for her kids.
I used to work for Domino's Pizza when I was a teenager and whenever Kung Fu Panda was released in theaters, our store owner bought a Po mascot costume. So guess who they made wear it? Well after about three hours of dancing on the side of the highway as a big panda with my Domino’s sign, I stumble my way back to the store.
I walk inside and one of my coworkers was going to help me get out of the suit and we took my head off. I look up and this little girl, probably 4-5, is just staring at me from behind the counter and just starts wailing. I tried to quickly put the head back on and tell her it was okay, but then she started screaming her head off and made it so much worse... I felt so terrible. But looking back now I find it hilarious.
When I was little, Donald Duck almost smacked me across the face, because I used a "joy buzzer" to shake his hand. That would have been around 1977 or so.
In the 80s, our local zoo had a Dairy Days event. High school volunteers were in charge of displays and elementary school students attended as a field trip. My mother was pulled aside (she was a sophomore in high school) and asked to step in as the cow mascot.
She is walking around entertaining children when she gets stopped at the bottom of a large hill by a teacher. The teacher asks her to watch the class of kindergartners for a moment so the teacher could go use the restroom located in the building atop the hill. My mom agrees. Big mistake.
At first, things were going fine, until one of the little girls sees through the mesh of the face and realizes that it is in fact a human inside of the suit and not a real walking, dancing cow. The young girl proceeded to announce this to the class and grabs the horns on the top of the cow's head, yelling “You’re not a real cow”! Problem one: the head is attached. My mother is now blind because her head is off-kilter.
But that’s not her only problem. Many children are now joining in and my mother is being swarmed by a horde of kindergartners yanking at her horns, udders, and hooves.
My mom can’t get away. In self-defense, she manages to free her arms and grabs the little girl holding the udders. She picks her up by her pigtail braids. Ms. Trunchbull style, my mother begins spinning her around by the pigtails, weaponizing the child to get the other youngsters away.
The teacher returns. The nightmare wasn’t over yet, though. She is now under the impression the cow mascot was attacking her students. The teacher attempts to run to defend her students. Luckily for my mom, the portly teacher trips and rolls down the hill.
As the students laugh at the teacher, my mom makes her great escape into the sunset. She ran into the character wardrobe closet, changed, and left the zoo without a word spoken to anyone about the horror she experienced.
I worked in entertainment costuming and have a fun story. I worked with Thor and Captain America when they first brought them to Disneyland (before all the crazy Marvel stuff over at California Adventure). All the guys were very awesome and nice, but not all of them were crazy built like Chris Hemsworth/Evans so they had upper torso/leg muscle suits for them.
The meet and greet was new so at first, they were only required to wear them if they needed to, but after a while they wanted them all to look consistent and they became a mandatory thing. One of my favorite Caps was super ripped though and was so nice, but when he wore the muscle suits, he looked ridiculous, like Hulk big. So…I just turned a blind eye when he didn’t wear them. No one outside of costuming noticed for a long time, because his real muscles were just as good as the fake ones.
Sadly someone eventually ratted him out which resulted in him getting let go. I quit shortly after that, so I never found out who snitched on him. He was one of my favorite co-workers, and I hope he’s doing well.
I worked as Barney for a while. A kid handed me a plushy toy once. Due to the mittens-type hands, I could not hold on to it properly which looked like I was juggling with it. The end of the story was that it fell right into Barney's open mouth. Sorry for eating your toy, kid!
Also, I knocked over plenty of toddlers with the huge dinosaur tail in the back due to lack of peripheral vision.
I was the Easter Bunny in a mall fashion show once. All I had to do was walk up on stage when the kids' portion came up and they each walked up and back down the walkway.
One kid was terrified and he did his walk down, turned, and ran back. Straight to me. His head was at exactly the wrong height and in the video, you can hear my “ummmph” as forehead strikes balls. I was in college and did it as a favor for the mall marketing manager, she was family. Never again.
I met a man who was Elmo in LA. My brother and I watched a documentary about the characters that hang out in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and solicit pictures for tips. Thing is, they aren’t allowed to ask for tips. But ol’ Elmo knew he had a lock on all the parents of little kids. And by god, he was gonna get paid. And no lousy tip either.
So the film documented several of his arrests for getting into altercations with cheap parents. Fast forward a few months and wouldn’t you know we had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in LA. We drove from Oklahoma, conducted our business, and went to the theater. And there he was: Elmo in a Laker Jersey. We ask him about the arrests and a small voice from inside the suit says, “Yeah, that was me”. We’re ecstatic. I knew just what to do next.
We ask him for a picture without the head. He knows exactly what we want. He laughs and pulls us to a side street. I pull out my phone, he pulls the head off. And I kid you not Sammy Davis Jr’s twin puts his arm around my brother. I lift up my phone. He lifts his hand, gives the bird and says, “Welcome to Elmo’s world”. Snap. Greatest pic ever.
My ex was a princess. It was apparently very competitive between the furries and princes/princesses--especially if someone wanted to be a princess but wasn’t.
There was a woman who played Mike (the round green guy from Monsters Inc) who was not particularly well-loved by her coworkers. One day an excited kid accidentally knocked her backward and she fell and just kind of rolled there like a bug on her back, moving her arms and legs, unable to get up and everyone just kind of watched her for a while instead of helping…because karma.
That image always makes me laugh.
I worked at Chuck E Cheese for five years in high school/college and then later became my college's mascot. I think the worst is that because of my height, most people figured out I'm a girl and I have been grabbed a few times.
A lot of older kids at Chuck E Cheese do go out of their way to harass/hit you though, and we didn't always have a handler. Once we were finished in the suit, we were allowed to grab a manager and point out who harassed us. Most guests got one warning and then were asked to leave.
One time, one of my co-workers was a tall guy with a very deep voice—and he was the best at putting rude customers in their place. He was in a metal band and could do that scream-singing thing and loved to sneak up behind us and use it to scare us. When he was in the suit, he would sneak up behind the really bratty kids and tell them in the screamo voice that he was not to be harmed. Usually scared them enough that they would avoid Chuck for the rest of their visit.
I used to do charity work with a Ghostbusters cosplay group. Most of the time the interactions are great, but around the time of the 2016 movie and all the heat it was taking, we had some seriously twisted encounters.
The most memorable was a guy who came up to me at a convention and asked me how mad we were that Hillary Clinton was forcing Hollywood to make an all-girls Ghostbusters as part of the hidden feminist agenda.
My favorite interaction was walking through a mall with the group. An older woman asks "Who are they supposed to be"? Her teenage daughter rolls her eyes and says "God mom, did you sleep through the 80s"?
I had to wear the Chick-fil-a cow costume on a 98-degree day in Colorado (relevant because the sun in Colorado is so intense it's like a furnace). Within three minutes of putting this thing on I was sweating profusely but the fan in the head was broken so I had no fresh air to circulate at all.
I tried to be a champ about it and started playing with some little toddlers. Then some 3rd or 4th graders showed up and started saying that I wasn't a real cow and they could see my face through the little mesh screen (no kidding kid, cows don't walk on two legs).
One of the fourth graders circles around behind me and body-slams me. Then the one in front thinks it's hilarious and tries to kick me in the nuts. I tried to walk away with a little dignity but I was told it 100% looked like I was running from fourth graders…which I kind of was, to be honest.
This one was actually pretty fun. For my high school soccer team, I got to dress up as a giant eagle once for a big fundraiser/event we were running that day. Everyone was out in town advertising and getting people to come and I was the Eagle. Well, for some reason people were loving the mascot costume so I ran into a packed coffee shop and started flapping my wings and making screeching eagle sounds with all my might. There was a lot of confusion.
I worked with Wonder Woman at a sports game (not going to say what kind or where) and there were several men who wanted pictures with Wonder Woman (sometimes me too) and didn't have kids. This isn't super weird because it’s common for parents or grandparents to ask for a picture "because Timmy loves Spider-Man and he'll think it's so cool I got to meet him", real wholesome stuff. There were a handful of guys who asked for a picture with Wonder Woman and actually asked me to step out of frame when I tried to pose with them—but there were two guys who took it way too far.
One guy wanted a picture with Wonder Woman and really wanted her to pretend to punch him in the balls. She was visibly uncomfortable and tried to pose normally, but he persisted and it was really weird. He apparently told her "It's always been a dream of mine to be punched in the balls by Wonder Woman". She refused and told him she would pretend to punch him in the stomach instead, he was visibly disappointed. We keep it very PG at the company, and if our boss saw that picture she would understandably not be happy.
I worked at Friendly's one fall/winter in high school as an ice cream scooper. One night, they needed someone to dress up as Jim Dandy, a giant ice cream sundae mascot. Desperate for some time away from the counter, I volunteered. For reference, I was a 5'1” tall, 120 lb, 16-year-old girl.
First off, I don't know when or if that costume was ever cleaned, but it was disgusting. Second, the thing was insanely hot. I felt like I was going to pass out. On multiple occasions, I stepped outside in the 30-degree weather to cool off.
Third, you can't see anything. I was bumping into tables and customers left and right. There was no peripheral vision and every time I turned something was in my path. Last, the kids were terrified of this monstrosity of a character. I made at least six kids cry. Those are the details of my terrible two-hour experience. I never volunteered again.
One of my friends works with a troupe of Disney princesses who do birthday parties and other events, and because I'm Chinese and fairly fit, she convinced me to try out as Mulan. So not a mascot costume, but a face character. For the most part, everything was a ton of fun, and I got to take some pictures with some kids.
The downside was that I ended up in Mulan's matchmaker outfit, which if you remember the movie, basically meant that I had no use of my hands at all. I was just dragging pink sleeves for days. I also normally wear glasses, but I didn't bring them with me since I didn't want to ruin my thick face makeup.
I had literally just finished commenting to my handler that I couldn't really see, when suddenly a knife flew towards my face. I looked up and there was a grown man, probably in his late 20s, pointing a mall ninja kunai at me and laughing, with this blade like an inch from my nose.
"Are you ready to get down to business to defeat the Huns"?
It freaked me right the heck out. My friends still laugh about the dressing down I apparently gave this guy, but I was honestly too shaken to really process it. I snatched the knife away from him with my sleeved hand and apparently told him he was being very irresponsible. He kept insisting that he was "just joking". I don't think he ever quite realized how stupid the situation was. He eventually just walked off after being scolded by a princess.
When I was studying I used to pick up extra seasonal work as a shopping center elf in December. We had a professional photo thing set up, a coloring table, a postbox to post your letters to Santa, or you could just sit on Santa's lap and tell him what you want and take a pic with your phone.
The kids were fine. Loads of high fives, a few hugs, lots of "how do you spell Transformer/skateboard/Nintendo", the odd kid freaked out about sitting with Santa, but nothing too serious.
The older teens and adults were the worst though. Constant complaints about the prices of the totally optional photos. Most weren't reasonable price complaints either, they just wanted everything for free. Parents with mostly toddlers who definitely did not want to go anywhere near Santa forcing them to, then getting angry at the kid for crying and holding up the line for ages because they had to get a perfect photo. Creepy grandpas saying things like "I bet you're on Santa's naughty list" and "You're a naughty little elf, aren't you"?
Grown adults wanting photos with Santa and pushing in front of kids that have been waiting longer. Kids that were getting a bit too old to want to take a photo with Santa being yelled at/forced to by their parents. Teens ripping up coloring sheets for no reason at all, just doing it and then walking off. Teens/young adults "photobombing" strangers' photos, usually ones of little kids who just didn't get why this random person was suddenly jumping in front of them and getting a little freaked out. One of our Santas finished up one season early because he was injured by a photo bomber's swinging elbow and got a black eye.
I used to work at an amusement park that featured costumed characters. The worst thing I ever heard was the time one of the characters was overcome by heat in 95-degree weather, and vomited inside the suit, splattering the inside of the suit's head with their half-digested lunch.
They had to walk a long distance back to the dressing rooms breathing the super-heated vomit air the entire way.
I was a bee in one of the stage shows at this amusement park. The bee always crash-landed every time he entered the scene and it was my first performance.
I come charging onto the stage trying to aim for this tall blade of grass that was made out of 3/4" plywood. Found the grass fine but I couldn't see the smaller blade of grass that was just under knee high. My shin went right into the tip of that one and cut me.
I proceeded to hand jive out the scene as this unsettling crimson spot got bigger and bigger on the yellow tights I was wearing.
13 years later I still have the scar.
My mom was a character actor back in the day (the 60s or 70s). They were testing a new headpiece for the seven dwarves' costumes in Disneyland and my mom wore one of them out on a march with Snow White. As a Dwarf, your head is inside their hat, their face on their stomach, etc.
Being Anaheim, it was really hot that summer day, and as they were going around following Snow White. A little kid saw my mom (Doc) and he ran up to give him/her a hug. As he was hugging Doc, disaster struck. The plastic that made up the face started melting inwards and the child started screaming “I melted Doc! I melted Doc”! In hysterics. Character handlers rushed my mom/Doc off through one of the secret passages by Pirates and got her out of the costume before the plastic could melt onto her.
Always thought it was a fun story and curious how much it screwed up that kid.
One day when I was Anna (Frozen), I had a husband, wife, and kids come up to me. What the man said was seriously heinous. He told his wife: ”Move to the other side with the kids. I want to stand next to the pretty girl”.
People can be hot garbage, but I still miss that job more than anything.
While an Attractions Cast Member in the 90s, I used to like to work “parade guest control” for the Electric Light Parade when I got scheduled night shifts. It entailed setting up stanchions and ropes for guests to stand or sit behind while the parade went by. And once the parade started, you would sit and watch the parade go by with everyone else, then take the ropes down.
It was also fun to watch guests enjoy the parade, and there I was, a young good looking guy, smiling along with everyone else when the Alice in Wonderland part of the parade came by. The Queen of Hearts noticed me, came straight over and bent down and put her arms around my neck. That’s when I got the shock of a lifetime. A guy’s voice from inside the costume said in my ear, “How would you like to be my Prince Charming tonight”?
I was simultaneously surprised, amused, and flattered. My fellow Cast Members at Star Tours got quite a laugh when I told them the story when I returned there to finish my shift.
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