“I have a ‘regular job,’ but it’s always been my dream to work at Disneyland,” says Jermaine (27). She sits in the Chassé Dansstudios canteen in Amsterdam, where Disneyland Paris auditions are held. “I always had a lot of energy. And then you get a weird look at school. Disneyland was a haven, we went every year. Everyone is happy there. Nobody looks at you funny when you jump in the park!”
Today I tested for the fourth time in five years. At the end of the first round she received bad news: Rejected. Will try again in six months.
It’s early Sunday morning in April. At Chassé Danstheater, about a hundred young people stretch and stretch to fulfill their Disney dream: dancing at the Disneyland Paris Parade. “The Parade” is a distinct part of the Disney theme parks. Daily carnival parade, from allure It’s a small world Across Main Street USA to town square† All Disney characters come, dancing on floats. Dozens of characters and dancers pass by. 2050 uniforms were made, 350 pairs of shoes were made. There’s a fire-breathing dragon and a copper-colored steam wagon with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
“I remember watching the show when I was 9 and thinking, ‘This is just a job? This is what I want to do! “
Test participants will not receive any feedback. You stand out or lose weight
Quizzes in Amsterdam attract Disney fans from all over Europe: Disney sweaters and other merchandise are everywhere. The words “It’s a Childhood Dream” are heard in four languages - Dutch, German, Spanish and English. Worldwide, 7,000 people are tested annually at Disneyland Paris. Only three hundred of them – about 4 percent – get a role as a character or dancer. After Amsterdam, the test team travels to Paris and to Rome. Even in the United States there are auditions.
Not much is known about the tests. Although there is no signed nondisclosure agreement, Disney requires all participants to maintain confidentiality – not Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. Many participants adhere to this. Some do not dare to answer the questions. “I don’t want Disney to come for me”German girl says. Others, like Germaine, do not want their last name published in the newspaper. They fear it will hurt their chances in subsequent exams.
The group believes that the less it is, the better the Disney magic is preserved.
So when a group of twenties stretching under an April rain looms for a Disney dream, parents, partners, and sons Norwegian Refugee CouncilReporter is not with you. No voyeurs. How long do they have to wait? It depends: How successful is their candidate?
The test lasts for an hour when a girl comes down the stairs crying. She tore the audition number off her chest and got out in the rain. Parents and partners look at each other in astonishment, as if to say: “Is this what awaits us?”
The first round (of the three) just ended, the character improvisation round. In the end, dozens of candidates were immediately sent home. In the words of director Lewis Copeland:The part we love to hate.“If your number is mentioned, that’s bad news.
For Emma (20), the test ends after the first round. “It was my lifelong childhood dream to dance in the show. I was bullied, had few friends. Disney movies were my haven.” Today was her second test. She does not give up. “If you participate more often, you have a greater chance. If you don’t succeed, you are still learning.”
Germaine also sees the positive side of the refusal: “It’s always a pity if you’re not allowed to pass, but I know people who only pass after six exams.”
Some candidates travel with tests. There is a German girl who took the test in London the previous week. If he doesn’t work today, “Maybe in Paris, Rome?” There is a group of eight musical theater students from Barcelona. They made it a weekend in Amsterdam. Vicki Flasbloem, 22, passed the test in London in 2020, while she had been rejected in Amsterdam a month earlier.
“It happens all too often that people come to every audition,” said casting director Copeland after two days of auditions in Amsterdam. And: “We love it when people keep trying† But it’s not worth it. We are looking for a specific profile for a specific offer. If your first test doesn’t fit that profile, there’s a slight chance you’ll pass after a week.” Copeland has clear advice: “Come once every six months. I don’t want people to waste money and time.”
Copeland is less clear about what makes a good Disney performer. “We look at the dance style, but if it’s not a pleasure to watch your performance, and you don’t fit the profile, the technique is less important. Every artist on the show, whether it’s the jungle car or the underwater car, has to fit into the spirit of the show. “.
What does it mean? Copeland hesitated for a moment. “Yes, you should have the extra ‘park’.”
Post Nicole de Ruyter (20) puts it differently: “They want characters, not professional dancers. Sometimes you just have to dare to be the biggest idiot ever.”
after four hours
The second round – the dance round – is now over. It’s one o’clock, exams are four. Most of the participants lost weight. Most of them don’t know why. No reactions: you stand out or lose weight. “Maybe I was too tall, too thin, too fat, too narrow, too wide…,” says de Ruyter. “That’s part of it. If they need princesses, for example, you have to look like the character, I think.”
Copeland: “Height is important, because we have different outfits that people have to match as closely as possible. But it’s more about attributes.” What makes a person suitable then? “I can’t say much about it. We want Disney secrets to remain confidential. Too many details about the processes that take place behind the park can change people’s experiences in the park.” The deeper you dig, the more you hit the rocks.
Disney fans from all over Europe come to Amsterdam in the hope of being chosen
The third and final round has arrived. Now let’s see what works best for the participants. This means: a make-up test, a wig experiment. Will you pass that round? Then it is a successful test. The participant ends up in the Disney database. During a six-month period, a call can be made: you have to “lead.” Whether, when, and within what period someone will be called is uncertain.
And if you don’t pass the tests? Copeland: “People can also express their passion in another part of the company. We call everyone at Disney a ‘cast member.’ Whether you’re dancing at the show or in shops or restaurants, you’re still a performer. An entertainer.”
“Length of Pluto”
Steeph der Children (36) was recalled in 2017 after two months of successful testing. “It was June 1, if I could start June 8.” Der Children struggled with burnout earlier that year, and working as a theater director became too much. “I lost pleasure in my work, and developed symptoms of depression.” Steeph der Children knows all the Disney songs and has watched all the movies. “I was born in 1986, before the renaissance of Disney films” – period little mermaid And the king lion† Der Children decided to audition at Disney, in an effort to recapture the fun of show business.
After the phone call was: Disney for six months. You get a room in the staff dormitories, just outside the park. You’re not earning more than a regular side job, but you’re doing it for a dream. Thalys will lead you directly to the Disney entrance. Everyone out there knows what you mean when you talk about Disney magic, or “the spark.” There you are not 1.73 meters tall, you are of “Pluto height”.
A lifelong Disney fan, the burnout, the stress of exams, the two-month wait. Expectations must be huge. Isn’t it a prelude to disappointment?
Read also: The back of Walt Disney’s fairytale empire
“New! That’s magic,” says Steve Der Kinder. “Every time the curtain opens, the movie starts, I’m immersed in this world. It happened when I danced in the show. I don’t know why it works that way, but it works. Look, if you see Mickey Mouse walking in the park, that’s Mickey Mouse. No doubt I make the decision to believe in it. And because I do, it’s a fact. Only the truth.”
Der Kinder was a three-time performer at Disneyland. A fourth time is not excluded.
It’s about three o’clock when the exams in Amsterdam end. The wigs are on, the dance steps are off, and the losers are back home. Few of them are still waiting for their friends when a young woman comes out and shouts excitedly, “They want me an ugly sister!”
Evil tv scholar. Proud twitter aficionado. Travel ninja. Hipster-friendly zombie fanatic.