Okay, I Lied: The Return Of Mr. XThis really is the last post about Disney.
Mr. X sent me another e-mail, this time about the characters, and it's just as interesting as the first:
The vast majority of Mickeys and Minnies and Donalds (basically, all the shorter characters) are actually girls inside those suits. They're shorter, and thinner, and less intimidating to smaller kids. Of course, Goofy and Jafar and the taller ones are guys, but most are women. All are actors/actresses (usually Broadway trained) and they rotate between character work and other shows. "Face" characters, where you don't have a mask on (Snow White, Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, etc), are much more tightly controlled than ones in full-body suits (in terms of weight).
Now characters go out with a partner who's not in a costume, just appropriate Disney dress for that area. The main reason? Well, apparently word got out amongst tour groups (and it seemed especially among some large South American teen tour groups) about the gender of the costumed characters. Well, all of a sudden there were a LOT of wandering hands... especially when taking pictures with their arms around the characters' shoulders. Of course, Cinderella couldn't slap anyone in the face... thus the non-character "handler" to keep an eye on things.
By the way, no one at Disney has uniforms--they have "costumes."
Did you know about the Magic Kingdom basically being the second floor, that underneath the "ground" is actually all the service/staff area? I got to go in there a few times... for being built in the late 60's/early 70's... pretty damn cool. You'll very rarely find a full wastebasket at the Magic Kingdom - most of them are hooked into the pneumatic tube network.
Oh, and a metagame for the Disney hardcore. Google "hidden mickeys." All friggin over the place.