I know you’ve seen them: neck fans, cooling rags, and handheld spray bottles. They are sold almost everywhere you turn in Disney World. And for good reason!
Escaping the summer heat of Florida is tough, especially in the parks with limited shade. That’s why a simple breeze can be like an oasis when the sun is at high noon.
It’s easy for us to come prepared, but have you ever considered the characters and cast members? Come to think of it, I’ve never seen Donald Duck walking around with a cooling rag. Surely there has to be more than meets the eye.
So how exactly do Disney characters stay cool inside those big costumes on brutal hot and humid, summer days?
Let’s dive in.
Do Air Cooling Systems Keep Disney Characters Cool?
If you were thinking that there MUST be some sort of air conditioner inside those big bulky costumes, then you would be absolutely wrong!
Contrary to popular belief, there are no cooling fans embedded in the costumes! This means that all the summer heat that you and I feel, is being trapped in Mickey and Minnie like a walking sauna.
The performers are of course made aware of the conditions upfront. But that doesn’t stop the incredible cast members from suiting up. Day after day they bring smiles to children from all over the world.
Some of the costumes weigh over 40 pounds. Not only is it astonishingly hot inside, but it takes a lot of effort to simply maneuver around the crowds.
So the next time you are sweltering in the heat, and see Goofy go walking by, stop for a moment. While waiting in line for the next adventure, consider the fact that you are not the only one needing a bit of relief from the Florida sun.
How Long Do Disney Characters Stay “In Character?”
Since we know there are no fan systems or any sort of exhausting being used, alternative measures must be put in place. Strict performance times are enforced to keep the cast members safe while on the job.
The temperature and heat index play an important role in determining a given performance length. There is a standard set in place by OSHA to protect them from having them stay in character for too long.
If the ambient temperature outside is 94 degrees or below, cast members spend around 30 minutes greeting guests in the parks. After their 30-minute session expires, the performers are allowed the same amount of time inside to cool down and relax. This gives them ample time to prepare for their next session inside the furnace.
If the temperature reaches 95 degrees or above, the performance time is shrunk to around 20 minutes of character activities. Though it varies. Under their contract, the cast members are allowed at least the same amount of rest time as performance time. This gives their bodies enough time to cool down from the sweltering Florida heat.
Due to the ongoing rest periods required for the job, multiple cast members take on the same role. This ensures the Magic that brought you to the parks, is there to greet you on any given day.
Wouldn’t there be a strong odor?
Surprisingly, the answer is not what you might think.
Yes, the performers get very and hot sweaty inside the costumes. There is no way to avoid that as we discussed earlier. But Disney combats this with an entire team tasked to take care of this very issue. And they do it to Disney standards.
After each performance, the cast member takes off their costume and the team goes to work. They immediately clean and sterilize the costume from top to bottom. Their goal is to leave no trace behind that you were ever inside melting away.
They do a fantastic job with this as well. There are no trace amounts of odor left behind to remind you that your colleague was just dripping sweat inside, minutes before.
The thought may cross their mind, but at the end of the day, they have a job to do. As tough as it may be to slide on that outfit again, they willingly hop in and soon they forget all about what came before.
Disney World Tunnels Underground
It’s widely known that there is an entire underground network operating while you are enjoying your time at Magic Kingdom.
Inside the tunnels, the cast members have access to a wide array of amenities such as dining, locker rooms, and yes, places to relax and cool off. There are over nine acres beneath the park. This allows the performers a safe space to stretch out and get comfortable before the next shift.
It provides quick access to disappear from the public eye, before popping back up to greet more guests throughout the day.
So the next time you are strolling down Main Street, stop for a moment. Merely feet below you, hundreds of cast members are catching a much-needed escape from the Florida sun.
What About the Prince and Princesses?
Though they are not in a walking sauna, they still have their own issues to battle in the summer heat. Most of the time, their sets last roughly 45 minutes, but no more than an hour max.
Unlike their counterparts in the furry costumes, they can’t go out in gym shorts and a t-shirt. It takes a ton of prep to get them ready for the ball.
First, they must work with a professional cosmetologist to get the wig applied correctly. Next comes the makeup – and I mean carefully applied makeup – to bring the Princess to life.
The artists that put this together are fantastic at their job, but that doesn’t make it go by any faster. After spending the better part of an hour getting ready, it’s time to bring the show to the eager guests.
Let’s not forget about the wig. Apply a little sweat, and they become extremely itchy. But beware of scratching that itch, it might mess up the look! (I’m looking at you, Princess Leia).
The gowns and gloves that complete the ensemble undergo the same sanitization treatment as the furry costumes. This ensures they are clean and odor-free for the next cast member.
So just like the full costume-wearing characters, the Prince and Princesses have to endure the same heat. Though not quite as rough. Both types of performers rely on scheduled breaks and limited exposure to stay healthy and fresh throughout the day.
The easy answer to how exactly the Disney characters stay cool isn’t a little fairy dust or Disney Magic. Quick performances and long breaks keep the cast members safe. This means they can continue bringing smiles to the faces of millions across the world.
The next time you find yourself at Disney World, melting away in the summer sun, know there’s likely a performer very close by. And they happen to be dealing with much harsher conditions to put on the show. And feet below you, the others are resting up, getting ready to put on that costume to bring the Magic of Disney to life for you and your family.