Interview With EX-Disneyland Paris Cast Member Denise Joanne
If you have ever found yourself wondering what it’s like to work in the magic then this is the post for you. If you haven’t wondered what it’s like then this is still the post for you. I first became aware of Denise Joanne as a youtuber who put out great videos filled with enthusiasm and personality. Soon after I discovered her channel she found out that she’d been offered a role at Disneyland Paris. And I couldn’t think of anyone who was better suited.
Over the course of the year Denise gave us a snapshot of life as a Disneyland Paris cast member and, in particular, life as a friend to both Cinderella and Rapunzel. On her return to the UK and Denise started taking questions about what it was like to work in the magic. And, well, I was totally captivated. So I asked her to join us for an interview on working as a cast member at Disneyland Paris and life after leaving the Disney bubble. Her answers offer a very insightful look for anyone whose ever wanted a bit of a closer look behind the curtain.
1) What can you tell us about the prep/experience you did before becoming a cast member at Disneyland Paris?
I actually didn’t have any experience related to any of the activities I did as a cast member! Luckily for me, when you audition for a role in the character and parade department, they don’t look at past experience. They just want to see what you can do to impress them on the spot, and they only ask to see your CV after they’ve already decided that they want to add you onto the books! I have to admit, sometimes I felt really out of place and almost worthless surrounded by all those incredibly talented dancers, actors and singers in the department, but I suppose I did have in me what they were looking for!
2) What can you tell us about your own experiences of auditioning to be a cast member? I know that certain things have to be kept secret though!
I have done a total of five auditions, two of which were successful. For me it was the first time in my life auditioning for anything, so I feel like I did okay! It’s an amazing experience overall and you get to know so many lovely people with interest in either dancing, performing arts or just Disney! It really helped me with my self esteem and you learn to not be afraid to expose yourself. Especially my very last audition was outstanding to me personally. I got to the fitting part for face characters and as a girl who has always struggled with her looks to a point where it has influenced parts my social life, that was a MAJOR heads up for me! I really found myself during these auditions!
3) Initially I know you where hired to be a friend of Cinderella but ended up looking after Rapunzel a lot too. If you had to pick your favourite princess to be friends with, who would you pick?
Rapunzel was actually my very first friend! Cinderella was the second! I met both of them during the auditions. I just happened to run into Cinderella first when I was in Paris. As we all know, Rapunzel is very good at playing hide and seek so it took me a while before I found her hiding spot in Paris, but when I did we had so much fun hanging out together! Then in April the trainers in Disney introduced me to Anna, who was the third to join my group of royal friends! My favourite was definitely Rapunzel, because she has been my favourite character since 2010 and she was the reason I wanted to try and audition! I’ve had some of the best days ever with that little flower.
4) What skills do you think you need to be a successful cast member at Disneyland Paris? And, in particular, what skills do you need to be friends with a Princess?
I think that to be a cast member you need to have the Disney spirit of course! No matter in which department you work, you’ll always be called ‘Cast Member’ as you’re always part of Walt’s cast! A positive attitude, helpful nature and a genuine smile are the best assets to have! Being friends with a princess doesn’t really come down to skills, in my opinion. In theory you need to have a good dance level (as you can only be friends with face characters when you’re accepted as a parade dancer), but then again, I am
not a dancer and I have never taken dance classes! I really dislike saying this, but honestly it all comes down to looks and most of all – height! You need to be in the correct height range and you need have similar facial features to at least one of the characters!
5) What is your favourite experience of being a cast member? Is there anything that absolutely stands out for you?
I’ve been so lucky to have done so many absolutely wonderful things, so it’s almost impossible for me to pick just one thing! But the first thing that always comes to mind is the day I got to take Rapunzel to the Sleeping Beauty Suite in the Disneyland Hotel, overlooking Main Street and the Castle! It was so magical! The daughter of the family that was staying there was celebrating her birthday and Rapunzel got to play games, share secrets and have lovely chats with her. After a while it was time for bed, so Rapunzel hugged her goodnight and my heart was so ful!! Seeing the Sleeping Beauty Suite in person has been on top of my Disney-related wish list for years! And to think I got to take my absolute favourite character there.. I still can’t believe it!
6) Do you have anything you’d do differently as a cast member if you could repeat the experience?
In hindsight, I think I would have put more effort into learning different languages. I was so focused on improving my French, that I didn’t spend any time trying to learn, for example, Spanish or Italian. I did know some basic phrases for my royal friends to use, but I would’ve liked to learn more!
7) Any advice for anyone who wants to become a cast member?
Honestly, the only thing I can say is.. Give them your best and most genuine smile and your most positive attitude!
8) Do you have any plans to return as a cast member to Disneyland Paris or any of the other parks?
It all depends on what’s going to happen in my life, really! I still want to audition for Tokyo Disneyland, so we’ll see!
I’d just like to take a moment to thank Denise for agreeing to let me interview her. I’ve just been blown away by her enthusiasm for Disney, the Princesses, and her dedication to the parks. It’s been fascinating for me to see the scope of skills and talents that you need to posses to succeed as a cast member and clearly she’s got those skills in buckets! Its been amazing to get a feel for her experience at the park and if you’d like to know more about her time at Disneyland Paris from her audition to her eventual return home check out her blog. I personally found her post on advice for aspiring cast members really interesting and filled with a lot of information I haven’t seen posted elsewhere!
Thank you Denise for offering such a wonderful insight into the world of cast members at Disneyland Paris.