JC @ WDW 2007 Day 5 Part II
During the tour Matthew talked a lot about the entertainment side of WDW. He really got into the audition process for both “fur” and “face”. Of course, the face CMs have to go thru a more extensive screening process. Candidates are evaluated for their weight, height, physical features and demeanor. American Idol is nice compared to what Disney hopefuls have to go thru. There is a constant evaluation process. You can be promoted or demoted at a moments notice, or you can re-audition for another role at certain times during the year. However, Disney rarely fires anyone unless they really mess up. Most of the CMs in the stage productions belong to Actors Equity so they are paid and treated better than regular entertainment CMs. It is not unusual for regular CMs to work 80-90 hours/week during peak periods.
Matthew told us the characters on the floats no longer have to climb under and over to get to the top. They are now lifted in place. Someone asked about air conditioning in the “bubbles”. They used to have AC, but there was a fogging problem. They now have a blower system that lowers the temps only about 7-8 degrees. Someone asked about CMs getting sick. Each float has a switch that can be pressed with a foot. If the CM gives thumbs up it was a mistake, if thumbs down then they speed up the parade and get the CM off the float as quickly as possible. Disney will do anything not to have to take off the head of a fur character.
The new “talking” Mickeys. etc. for the stage productions have a switch in each hand that controls either the eyes or mouth. This is a very difficult process for the CM to have to sing and dance and control the head. BTW, if you want to be Mickey or Minnie you can only be between 4’ 11” and 5’ 1” and be of normal weight for that height.
Matthew was really into Tinker Bell. Tink works 2 hours/day and is paid for eight. To be Tink you have to go thru a very extensive process, including being lifted on a crane and spun around to see how you will react to windy conditions. Tink is pushed off the Castle and it should take her 30 seconds to reach the landing area on top of the building. If she makes it in 27 seconds she could injure herself, so two CMs are there with a blanket to catch her. There are three gym mats at the end of the landing area just in case, which have been used several times to stop Tink and the CMs. If Tink is taking more than 30 seconds she has to go hand-over-hand to reach the landing area and/or the CMs try to pull her in. Matthew swears that has never been, nor ever will be a Tinker Bill!!!
There was one question Matthew could not answer. There are four rows of lights near the top on the rear wall of the Emporium. No one seems to know why they are there. They can be seen from the Monorail at night. The best answer Matthew has received is that they are used to test different brands of light bulbs, but if that was the case the lights would be one 24/7. So the mystery persists.
We were also surprised to learn that backstage you can get from City Hall to the Crystal Palace in 30 seconds due to the design of the buildings and since you can walk a straight line.
Matthew told us the story of the first person to win the night in the Castle. It was a 16 year old boy in Star Tours, who was complaining he got a bad seat on the end of the row. Of course, he could not accept the prize due to his age, so it was announced his father won. If you win the night in the Castle you have two hours to decide. Certain persons from certain countries cannot win, and if you are from Canada you must do three math problems to be eligible. Huh?
OK, here it is, the big rumor. Drum roll please. The rumor is that the Matterhorn will be built in Pooh’s Playful Spot in the near future. You read it here first.
To end the tour Matthew reminded us you can hire a CM for a private tour. It is only $125/hour for a minimum of 6 hours, but you can have up to 10 persons in your group. BTW, if you are a celebrity invited by Disney and/or are performing in one of the parks you get everything free. However, any other celebrity must pay his or her way for everything at WDW. His most famous celebrity was Xuxa.
Lord High Keeper of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong, Counselor in Moments of Temptation, and Guide along the Straight and Narrow Path and Oldest Active DWT/WDW Radio Member
DL: 1955* (1); WDW: 1977* (2), 1980* (2), 1985* (3), 1989* (3), 1996 (ASMu-3), 1999 (ASMo-3), 2000 (ASMu-2/PO-2), 2001 (ASMu-5), 2002 (ASMu-5), 2003 (ASMo-5), 2004* (8), 2004 (ASMo-8), 2005 (PC-10), 2006* (15), 2007* (20), 2008* (22), 2009* (26), 2010* (27), 2011* (32), 2012* (39), 2013* (36), 2013* (15), 2013* (9), 2013* (13), 2014* (23 so far) Total Trips/Days = 25/339