Disneyland isn't an easy place to work, but it seems the harsh restrictions put on employees are slowly being lifted...
A new initiative within Disney's parks means cast members won't have to live up to the painfully tight restrictions they used to...
And when we say painful, we mean it...
Auditioning to be a cast member can be super grueling.
Before you undergo your quest to be a Disney prince or princess, here are some things you should keep in mind...
It all starts with a long audition process.
A single audition typically takes eight hours of dancing, singing, acting, and doing everything you can to convince the people doing the hiring that you can fit the role.
But of course, most people don't make it through the audition process.
More than half of the people who audition for Cast Member roles don't make the cut. And they don't tell you why you've been eliminated; you just get a simple yes or no.
On top of that, you can only audition once every year, so if you don't make it the first time, it'll be another 365 days until you can try again.
You don't audition for a specific role.
In fact, you have a better chance of being hired if you look like people who already work there.
There are often multiples of each Disney prince/princess at the park at any given time. If you look like someone who's already playing the part of one of the princesses, you have a better chance of being hired on as their lookalike.
Okay, let's assume you got the job. Now the real work begins, starting with studying up on your character.
You even have to master their signature.
Each Disney character has a unique autograph — and has ever since the park opened. That means that if you're hired to play Cinderella, your autograph is going to look exactly the same as every other person who has ever played her. Obviously, that takes a lot of practice.
While in costume, you're expected to stay in character at all times.
That includes using their voice every time you open your mouth to speak.
Depending on the character, this could really do a number on your vocal cords.
And no sitting.
Yep! When you're in costume as a prince/princess, you're expected to be standing at all times. (Unless you're crouching down to take a picture.)
This next Disney rule is actually pretty surprising...
No singing allowed, either!
Not during the meet and greets, anyway.
Some princesses do sing in certain circumstances, such as Belle during the Beauty and the Beast show at Hollywood Studios, but they have special contracts that allow them to do so.
Oh yeah, you also won't be one right away. First, you have to do a "fur character."
Don't forget to smile!
You probably would have guessed that Disney characters are expected to smile at all times, but take a second and think about how tricky that could actually be in practice. After all, it's still a job, and jobs aren't always a barrel of laughs.
And sometimes, that job requires you to deal with bratty kids.
Some kids are going to try to cut the line, or argue with their parents, or just be all-around not very nice in the moment that you interact with them. But that doesn't matter because you have to be kind and joyful at all times.
You always need to have an answer.
Disney princesses are instructed to answer all guests' questions. Obviously, that requires a lot of quick thinking and improvisational skill.
Also, they're not allowed to reference any properties that aren't in the Disney universe. (For instance, Jasmine has no idea who Harry Potter or Thomas the Tank Engine are.)
And the pay? It's...OK.
It's not much more than minimum wage, though.
And you don't really get any perks when you're off-duty in the park.
You still have to wait in line with the normal people, and there's no special merchandise or anything like that. Still, you do have one of the most magical jobs in the world, so that's something.
However, Disney has started to lift some of these rules for employees...
On Tuesday, Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney parks revealed the update to the company's dress and style code to make its parks feel more inclusive.
"Moving forward, we believe our cast, who are at the center of the magic that lives in all our experiences, can provide the best of Disney's legendary guest service when they have more options for personal expression...
"Creating richer, more personal, and more engaging experiences with our guests," D'Amaro wrote on Tuesday.
One of the first things that every Disney cast member learns is the "four keys" — safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency.
These "keys" are guidelines for employee etiquette and are aimed at providing a seamless guest experience.
Disney added a fifth key last year... inclusion.
"We want our guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in the stories, experiences and products they encounter in their interactions with Disney," D'Amaro said. "And we want our cast members – and future cast members – to feel a sense of belonging at work."
This means offering more inclusive products and revamping attractions in the parks to feature more diversity.
Another key piece of that strategy is allowing cast members to express themselves while working at the Parks.
Disney has always had gender-specific rules for how men and women can look...
As well as restricting what types of jewellery could be worn and require that tattoos always remain covered.
Now, there will no longer be segmented rules for male and female workers.
Cast members will still need to abide by some of the previous rules, like keeping hair natural colors and making sure their name tag is never covered. However, "The world is changing, and we will change with it," he said.
Costuming will be more gender-inclusive too...
Cast members will now have a wider range of costume options.
"Changes like these are strategic: we see in study after study that the next generation of Disney fans and guests rejects gender stereotypes and craves values alignment with brands," said Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal.
"Simply put, they want the companies they patronize to be as inclusive and forward-looking as they are. This is a great moment for people everywhere to see Disney – an iconic company – a signal that everyone is welcome there.
"With these changes, cast members can bring their full, authentic selves to their work," she said. "More Disney guests will be able to see themselves reflected in the diversity of people across all levels of the company."
Disneyland plans to reopen on April 30 at a limited capacity for California residents.
What do you think of their new inclusivity initiatives?