There can never be enough research done on this topic. If you’re wanting to be a character at Disney, then you have probably watched countless YouTube videos about everyone’s experiences, looked at tons of blogs that all say roughly the same thing, and have maybe watched dance tutorials to see if you can at least keep a beat. At least, that’s what I did. But I still wasn’t ready for what I was exactly about to be put through. So here’s yet another blog out there posting about what auditions are like and what you should or should not do.
A little background on me looking up auditions: I have wanted to be a princess (well, really Tinkerbell, but any face character would be great) for as long as I can remember (yes, just like literally every other girl auditioning across the country). So I’ve been researching (AKA obsessively Googling) for years. Because of this, I knew auditions were held in eight places across the country in the month of October, if you’re auditioning for a spring program. Fortunately, Louisville was one of those audition places for the past three years, which would only have been an hour away from school. But of course, the year I actually made it into the program, they decided to skip Louisville and go somewhere else.
So I ended up auditioning at the beginning of October in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is about five hours from UK. Lucky me.
Once I was there, I was given a number (115) and then told to just sit and wait until we were called into the room. I’m pretty sure they took groups of 50-100, but I was in the last group, because we only went from 100-147. This was my first time ever in a dance studio, so it was completely terrifying and intimidating, especially since there were people there who actually looked like performers and theater majors. So once we’re called in, we were given a sort of run down of what we would be doing in this first round of auditions.
The First Round
To me, this round was actually really easy. We had to put two parts together for our final audition of this round–an animation part and then the “dance” part. The scenario they gave us was that we were marching in the parade in a fur character costume and for the first two eight counts of music they played, we were supposed to “interact” with guests, for example a really short one and a really tall one. So you were pretty much running around in your little area pretending to high five, wave, blow kisses, that sort of thing. Then they would tell you when the counts were over and you would go right into the parade march. You started at one end of the studio and had to make it to the other end. And that was it. First round. I’m not going to lie, I finished the parade route and was like
Seriously. I had never performed or auditioned like this, but I just had fun with it and smiled confidently the whole time, and I think that’s what really showed. Some people really couldn’t get the choreography, and you could see it on their faces that they were concentrating too hard. And they also weren’t that concerned with people who couldn’t get it, because there were a few girls that couldn’t get the march down that made it to the next round. You just have to be expressive!
After everyone had a chance to do the march, which was done in groups of five so they could get a good look at everyone, they sat us all down and told us immediately who would be going to the next round and who wasn’t. If they called your number, you were through. If not, you were sent home. Thankfully, they called me!
The Second Round
This part started with all of us filling out paperwork with our information on it (name, age, address, program acceptance…) which was incredibly hard because most of us had shaking hands because we were so excited and nervous to have been chosen. Once we were done with that, we turned the papers back in and got in line to get our height and they took a headshot of us. Once we were done with that, we just sat on the floor and waited a little more for them to get through everyone.
Then came the actual audition part.
This was a complete 180 from the first round. They had narrowed it down to about 50 of us, so the talent level had gone up considerably. There was a much bigger animation section that was a lot more difficult and the dance was pretty much something you would expect to see on Dancing With The Stars. And not like first week DWTS, but the finale, when there are pretty much just pros left. Not to scare you away, because they knew we weren’t all great dancers, they were still just looking for that expression.
But first, the animation part. Our little story was that we were a zookeeper trying to wash an animal. We could pick any animal we wanted, we just had to act it out. It was like intense charades for 30 seconds. Then, they wanted to us be the animal that was getting the bath. Naturally, I had chosen an elephant so I had to act like an elephant. Do you know how difficult it is for a 5’2″ girl to be a convincing elephant? Why didn’t I choose something easier? Kicking myself in the foot for that one. I could have easily been a penguin. If I audition again, I’m definitely not going to pick an elephant.
Then came the dance. The first few parts of it were simple enough, but then it got progressively harder as the dance went on. And it was pretty long! Fortunately for all of you, I found some actual footage of my audition, so here’s what it looked like:
I can’t really describe it other than it had dance lingo that I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, which I don’t think was a good sign. But after they taught us all the choreography and we practiced our animations (probably about an hour or two of doing this) they called us into the dance studio in groups of five to perform for them. We did the animation once and the dance twice and then they wrote notes and we were free to go. Since they were auditioning all over, they said they wouldn’t email us results until the middle of November. Unfortunately, I did not get offered a character role, but since I read the rejection email at Epcot after the Wine and Dine half marathon, I wasn’t too upset about it. Besides, you can always audition during the program to be back ups for parade characters. It could have been worse. I could have gotten cut in the first round after driving all the way to Ann Arbor.
- Smile. The whole time! Even when you’re just sitting there, smile the entire time. They’re seriously always watching you. If you just stand there with a straight face, that’s not good. Disney is all about smiling all the time.
- Exaggerate your movements. Think of your favorite cartoons or kid’s movies. The expressions and body language is always big and exaggerated. If you’re waving, wave with your whole body. Jump up and down while your arms flap around and your face is excited. If you’re surprised, jump back, throw your arms around, show it on your face. You’re going to feel silly, but that’s okay because that’s exactly what they’re looking for. If you’re feeling ridiculous, you’re doing it right.
- Practice. The auditions probably change from year to year, but they’ll still always have a dance portion and an animation portion. Practice big movements so you don’t feel self-conscious during the audition, because if you feel that way, it will most likely show on your face.
- Wear comfortable clothing. You will sweat. And you’ll be moving around a lot, so make sure you’re wearing something that allows that. I wore black leggings and a blue Colts V-neck that was fitted. My advice would be don’t wear baggy clothing either because they need to see you, but also wear something you’re confident in. And tennis shoes were fine. I read in some places that they want you to wear dance shoes in the dance studios, but I think there were only a few people who actually had real dance shoes, so it wasn’t a big deal. In addition to being comfortable, I would bring water and snacks because you’re there for a long time.
- Make friends with the dancers. These are all Disney wannabes, so they’re going to be nice. Or at least, that was my experience. I made friends with someone who literally looked like Elsa (her name was Morgan) and she was super helpful! It was nice to have a friend for a few hours because otherwise, it would have been a really scary situation. Plus, Morgan took the time to teach me the choreography and give me tips when we had a chance to practice on our own. Her positivity definitely gave me more confidence than what I had if she hadn’t been there.
- …But don’t stand too close to them. Even though you guys are new BFFs, don’t stand close if you’re not that great of a dancer. If you stand next to someone who can move, then you probably won’t look that great, even if you’re decent.
- Have fun with it! It’s okay to look like a total goofball–that’s literally the job! I was already accepted into the program before I went to auditions, so I knew I honestly had nothing to lose-if this was going to end badly, the worst part was I was still going to Disney. And some of the people you’re auditioning with have also gotten into the program already, so you might as well make friends so you know people when you get there. Go into it with an open mind and positive attitude and you’ll do great!