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Disney Job Discrimination

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by DanB315, Oct 10, 2002.

  1. DanB315

    DanB315 Member

    I'd like to call to your attention a disturbing situation that happened to me at Disney casting recently in Orlando. I read with interest a “Call for Puppeteers” in the Summer ‘02 issue of the Puppeteers of America publication The Puppetry Journal. In it Mr. Jeff Conover of Disney Ent. was quoted as saying, “We are always looking for puppeteers. Even beginners can apply. We’re looking for people who have a basic ability and who want to become world-class puppeteers over time.”
    I decided to travel to Florida, at great expense and investigate the situation. It was a surprise to me that I was interviewed by a clerk (not a puppeteer). After checking into the audition schedule for the day, she stated that it is Disney policy that ALL puppeteers must also agree to walk around in costume as Mickey Mouse and other characters as needed.
    Being disabled, with cerebral palsy from the waist down, this was impossible for me to do.
    In my twenty five year experience as a puppeteer, I’ve never heard of such a policy, or lack of respect for puppetry. This is not what a “world-class puppeteer” should be. I know I’m not the only qualified puppeteer who has been refused a job at Disney, and hope this doesn’t happen to other puppeteers.
    Has anyone else heard of this policy?

  2. scarylarrywolf

    scarylarrywolf Well-Known Member

    I have not heard of that policy, but gosh! You'd think dISNEY would be the last to be so discriminatory, since they'll accept practically anyone, including ditsy kids without any talent to be on their tv shows. This is only more evidence to support the fact that dISNEY is a monster. My respect level for that company now is far too far into the negative zone to even be identified anymore.

    I'm incredibley sorry that such a misfortune had to befall you, Dan. I wish there were something I could do to right that wrong. Did you catch that motto of theirs too: "Drawing Creativity from Diversity"? What a load of hypocrites.

    --"Scary" Larry Wolf
  3. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    That is terrible. I am sure if you drew attention to this policy they would consider changing it. They don't need any bad press these days and this sparks some wild legal issues.
  4. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Very sorry to hear about this Dan, this is very wrong and you should consider checking to see if Disney is violating any of Florida's anti-discrimination laws. If they are, it should reported to the proper state authorities.
  5. TheHurricane

    TheHurricane New Member

    Oh, it's true...it's true.

    Yeah, it's a fact. I'm currently employed by WDW and work as a puppeteer, as I have almost exclusively since 2000. Before I could hope to focus on that, though, I put in two months as a costumed character. I think I was one of the lucky ones. Many people just get entrenched in their costume roles and never get a chance to break out of them for a very long time. I think those who are in charge of seeking out pure puppeteers do what they can to "speed" the employees through the system of working in character costumes, not unlike what happened with me, but it doesn't always work, I guess. For a time, things were still OK, in that you could elect to do just puppetry roles and not work in costume if you didn't want to. However, about a year ago, some higher-up had the "bright" idea, "Hey, why are we paying people to be just puppeteers when they could also be working in costume or in our new parades for part of the day?" That's pretty much how things are today. Barely anyone is just a puppeteer anymore; one's daily schedule will at least require them to help behind the scenes with each park's parade, and if you're the right height and the next step up on the seniority ladder, you're going to be the one to get scheduled to work in costume on your day off whether you like it or not. Call sick, anyone? As Artie said, though, WDW doesn't look at most of its entertainers as specialists, and refuses to break up into groups the "Character" department to reflect the multifaceted talents of the people who make it up. Knock on wood, I haven't set foot into a character costume in almost three years, and the longer that stays true, the less likely it seems to happen in this company. I'm happy to be working at the Playhouse Disney show now, and I still believe this is a fine place for a puppeteer to find a steady source of practice. It's just unfortunate that WDW places these stumbling blocks in front of people wanting to rise higher in a proud profession.

  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    The other, non-puppetry side of this is that it's an insult to anyone who specializes in costume characters that you can throw anybody in to them. Performing body costumes is in and of itself a "specialty" and just because someone is a brilliant manipulator (puppeteer) it doesn't follow that they will necessarily be a brilliant costume performer as well (although a lot of puppeteers do both very well).
  7. CaptCrouton

    CaptCrouton Well-Known Member

    After reading this thread, I know it sounds wacky, but I think it would be awesome to be a costume character at Disney. I'm probably too tall to play anyone but Goofy, (6 ft 3) but I think it would be a privilege to bring to life a classic character that kids would remember forever seeing.

    Now I'm sure the novelty would wear off, but could you relate more of your experience as a character at WDW? When I was a little kid, I was so enamored by the costume characters, except for Pluto. He shook my hand so furiously, I got scared. I still remember to this day the relief of meeting Snow White who was very gentle after Pluto. But I knew that it wasn't the real Show White because she didn't look anything like the cartoon.

  8. DanB315

    DanB315 Member

    Disney Job Discrimination?

    You can't tell me it takes the same skill to be a costume character (Santa Clause or Mickey Mouse) as it does to be a puppeteer.
    On another subject, I was once told by a Muppeteer friend (who I won't name) that Disney wanted to replace Frank Oz as Miss Piggy! That should make us all mad.

  9. scarylarrywolf

    scarylarrywolf Well-Known Member

    Just like I said, they're monsters. They don't care about the artistic quality, just how much money they can rake in.
  10. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    This has nothing to do with the topic, but I had to throw in at this point that I crack up each and every time I see your avatar Scary Larry - that's one funny wolf! :p
  11. rurulesunc

    rurulesunc Well-Known Member

    Well if it makes anyone feel any better, they only pay their puppeteers $6.70 an hour anyway. If you are full time they also expect you to be available when they want you to work i.e. no second job. If you are part time they want two full days a week where they can schedule you. I was going to audition until I got this info. How do they expect people to live?

  12. scarylarrywolf

    scarylarrywolf Well-Known Member

    DOOOOOON'T... LAUGH... AT MEEE! ! ! ! ! ! ! ;)

    Seriously, thanks!

    --"Scary" Larry Wolf

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