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  • Writer's pictureHillary Van Way

Spotlight: Disney Character Performer

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

Have you ever dreamt of being a character performer in Disney World, or is it just me? I'm so excited to put the spotlight on Emily, who is living my dream of working as a Character Performer in Disney World!

Emily, a native of Texas, moved down to Florida to pursue one of her dreams of working for Disney World. She participated in the Disney College Program, and now works seasonally for Disney World. This way, she can pursue other things as well as work for Disney! Recently, she transferred to the University of Central Florida and is focusing on school, while trying to balance living near Disney World and keeping up with all of her interests. Here's a little bit more about Emily, her program, and her love of Disney!

What is your favorite memory of Disney World?

It’s gotta be when I was younger and ran into a glass window at the Polynesian. I chipped my tooth and was so incredibly embarrassed--it was awful. But, the next day turned out to be one of my most favorite days. My mom and I went to Magic Kingdom where I was literally treated like a princess. I’m not sure if it was because of my chipped tooth or just good karma, but so much magic occurred that day that I will never forget.

What is your favorite resort to stay at on property?

It’s a tie between the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian. Both hold so many precious memories from my childhood, but I think I would have to say the Polynesian! In fact, I ate breakfast there this morning, and nothing compares to the feeling I still get when walking into the main entrance. It’s hard to put into words, but it is truly magical.

What is your must-do Disney attraction on every trip?

Hard question, but I would have to say Splash Mountain! I used to be very scared of that ride, but once I got over my fear, it instantly became my favorite.

What is your favorite Disney snack?

Honestly, I was never really a Mickey Bar/Mickey snack type person. I’m not sure if these qualify as a snack, but my favorite would be Corn Dog Nuggets or a Mickey Waffle.

If you could take a picture with only one character on a Disney vacation, who would that character be?

Pre-DCP Emily would probably say Peter Pan! He was really one of my favorites. Now, it would have to be Jessie from Toy Story!

If you had one restaurant recommendation in Disney World, what would it be, and what would you recommend ordering?

One restaurant is so tricky for me. I guess I would have to say 1900 Park Fare, located in the Grand Floridian! It is perfect for people of all ages and serves breakfast and dinner. Growing up, it was my favorite place to eat dinner because you got to meet Cinderella and some of her friends; now, I prefer breakfast because one of my favorites, Pooh Bear, is there (along with some other British friends). Both breakfast and dinner are buffet style, so I recommend getting anything and everything!

What is your favorite park in Disney World, and why?

Magic Kingdom, hands down. To me, it’s truly where all of the magic lies. Even to this day, I get goosebumps walking down Main Street.

Who do you love traveling to Disney with most?

I used to always travel to Disney with my family, but now I just go with anyone and everyone. It’s funny because locals use Disney World as an ice breaker when it comes to meeting new friends.

What is your favorite Disney movie?

Absolutely would be High School Musical. Specifically, the second one.

When did you do the Disney College Program, and what made you want to apply for it?

I did my DCP January-August of 2018. I’ve always wanted to live and/or work at Disney World, especially in entertainment. When I discovered the DCP, it was everything I was looking for.

What was your top choice, and what did you end up doing for your DCP?

My top choices were: character performer, character attendant, and attractions. I’m very fortunate that I got my top choice, character performer!

What did you like doing when you weren't working?

Simply go to the Disney parks! On my DCP, I swear I never got tired of the parks. I practically went everyday!

What was your weekly schedule like?

It really varied every week, but I typically worked 5 days a week. I used a lot of my free time/off days to either hang out with friends, go to the parks, or work on my YouTube channel!

Did you enjoy your DCP? Why or why not?

I definitely did enjoy my DCP, but something I like to tell people is I definitely would have enjoyed it more had I not been so focused on social media. I didn’t have as much leisure time as most other CPs because I was so dedicated to my platforms. I wouldn’t change a thing, and I loved finally being able to do something I had been waiting my whole life to do (working for Disney and starting a YouTube channel.)

Do you have any future plans with the Walt Disney Company? Dream roles?

I really have no idea! I’m just playing it by ear, really. I'm trying to soak up every moment I can. If I could do anything, my dream would be to be an actress (especially on Disney Channel). So, I guess my “dream role” would be the star of my own Disney Channel Original Movie. Haha, we’ll see.

Your YouTube channel kind of blew up once you started your DCP. Tell a little about that and how weird it is to be "famous" on Instagram and YouTube.

I don’t really consider myself famous! Especially in the Disney community, “fame” is such a constructed view. I started my channel with the intention of finally becoming a YouTuber, something I wanted to do just as much, if not more, than wanting to work at Disney. However, when I started, I knew I wanted to do it well and actually succeed. By working very hard on my YouTube, I did expect a little bit of success. At least I sure hoped. But, I never expected what ended up happening. I would have never guessed I would be at 45,000 subs after one year, with an equally as big Instagram. I was definitely shocked once I started gaining so fast. I didn’t know what to do! I got to see my dream come true right before my eyes. It was so cool, and even to this day, I don’t always fully grasp my impact on others and social media. But I am so thankful that I have a platform, and I have people who listen to me. Now I can share my stories and my adventures, and use that for good. My biggest goal is just to help people get through life, while pursuing one of my passions. I’m working every day to grow my platform and be the best role model I can be.

What are your social media handles?

Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat: @emilynels8

Give her a follow, especially if you enjoy watching Disney Vlogs and like following others' Disney journeys!

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Emily!


To book your next Disney vacation, contact me here!


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