For ’twas my first one spent working as a Walt Disney World cast member.
Now, I don’t really ever get into specifics regarding what I did – I often answer that I was in entertainment or that I was a parade performer. The stories of my summer at the Disney-MGM (not Hollywood or whatever they call it next) Studios, while Cinderella’s Castle was being painted pink, are still so vivid. The impression was and is indelible.
At the month of May, I was trained for a role in the Toy Story Parade that in many ways changed who I was in terms of presence. Sure, what I had been trained for previously – both in the Parade and in other areas of the park – required to me to be ‘larger than life’… But this was the finale float of the parade! All eyes on that float! Thousands of fanatics waving over a seven cycle loop, sometimes twice a day, in a very high level of heat.
It was going to be awesome!
There was a routine to learn. And then there were moments where you were free to act on your own. I loved the routine, but I loved the improvised moments more. Sometimes it was connecting with someone in the crowd. Sometimes it was adding a little something extra you picked up the day before from watching a clip of the movie. Sometimes it was creating your own choreography (as if I was qualified to do such a thing).
Every parade was different. No Insanity workout could match it.
The day that you have a pack of high school teenage cheerleaders run from the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular to follow your float and cheer you on – that changes you. It makes you feel like a star – if only until your backstage and the audio stops.
May 1996 was the start of a fantastic summer. A fantastically sweaty summer.