We know that dressing in summer clothes, wearing sandals, and drinking lots of water will prevent overheating. This is how most people dress when they visit Disneyland. However, hundreds of people working at Disneyland do not have the option of wearing cotton shorts and shirts or sipping on cool water. These are the people that wear costumes of your favorite Disneyland characters, making them come alive. So how do the Disney World characters manage the heat and stay cool?
Disney World characters in full-body costumes take frequent breaks. Staff members work on rotation schedules to allow the workers to recover. Minimal clothing is worn under the costume. Ice vests may be used to reduce the character’s temperature. Unfortunately, heat stroke is always a risk.
Most people do not have to spend much time thinking about how to stay cool in the hot Florida heat. But, for Disney World characters, this is a big concern. No one wants to be squashed by a fainting Mickey, Minnie, or Goofy.
So how do Disney characters stay cool while entertaining the thousands of visitors that visit the amusement park?
Which Disney Characters get The Hottest?
Disney World is located in Florida, a region known for its hot, humid climate. Temperatures average 73°F to 95°F (22° to 35°C) in summer. Winter is cooler but seldom cold. The heat makes it challenging for Disney World characters who must appear in costume.
People characters such as Snow White, Pocahontas, and Prince Charming do not need to wear face masks.
While not necessarily the coolest, their costumes are more bearable in the heat.
Full-body costumes such as those worn by Winnie-the-Pooh, Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse are warm, and the person inside the character has their face covered.
They usually only have small slits to see out from.
Full-body costumes can cause overheating because they don’t allow sweat to evaporate. Without evaporation, the body’s natural cooling system cannot work.
In addition, the full-body costumes are heavy, averaging around 47 pounds (21kgs).
The actor inside must exert themselves considerably, carrying the excess weight for the entire work period. In addition, doing work pushes up a person’s body temperature, increasing the risk of overheating.
How Do Disney World Characters Prevent Overheating?
The management of Disney World is very aware of the risk of heat stroke for the people employed to assume the role of the Disney characters.
Strict Work And Rest Shifts Keep Actors Safe
They have strict schedules of when staff is on duty and rests breaks.
When fur or full-body characters work indoors, they are on duty for 30 to 45 minutes, followed by a break of 30 to 45 minutes. The exact temperature determines the period of the work shift.
In outdoor settings, the work shift lasts 30 minutes if the temperature is under 94°F, followed by a 30-minute rest period. However, if the Florida temperature is 95°F or higher, the shift only lasts about 20 minutes.
‘Face characters,’ or human characters, do not struggle as much with the heat. However, they are also affected as many costumes they must wear comprise many layers. They spend a maximum of 60 minutes outside, even in cool weather.
The worker’s unions at Disney World negotiate stringent work and rest periods to ensure that actors are not at risk of overheating.
Actor Rotations Allow Cooling Off Periods
Actors rotate so that the character is always present on the show grounds to interact with the public. When one actor has finished a shift and needs time to rest and cool down, another actor will take on the character and appear in public.
Actors Wear Minimal Clothing Under Costumes
Wearing a 47-pound furry costume in Florida heat means you need to use all means possible to stay cool. One of these is to wear minimal cool clothing under full-body costumes.
Shorts and vest tops help a bit when you’re stuck in the suit for hours, given the reason they are so popular among the cast.
Characters Try To Remain In Shady Spots
Characters in complete costumes avoid being in direct sunlight whenever they are around other people. Though this isn’t always possible, they try to avoid the direct heat when possible.
Disney World Provides Rest Stations For Staff
Disney World has rest stations equipped with air conditioning to allow actors to cool down and recover from the heat. In addition, there are fridges so actors can access cold liquids.
Adequate hydration is critical for actors to maintain optimal fluid levels. If not well-hydrated, they will be more susceptible to heat stress.
What Roles Carry The Most Risk Of Heat Stress?
Work shifts at Disney World are typically carefully managed to prevent actors from overheating in their costumes. However, this is more difficult to do during parades, which can last several hours and put the actors at a higher risk of overheating.
When temperatures become extreme, the park management alters the parades to shorten the routes.
They also reduce the appearance times of characters in the hottest costumes. In addition, refreshment points out of the public view are arranged for performers to hydrate and cool down.
If the temperature gauge is high during a parade, the characters will walk and move more slowly.
Normally Disney World characters hop, skip, and dance throughout a parade. However, so much exercise would cause them to overheat quickly in the stifling costumes in hot weather.
Do Character Costumes Have Built-In Air Conditioners?
Some people believe that Disney World character costumes have built-in air conditioners.
This is incorrect, as there is no way to create an air conditioner in the costumes.
Adding an air conditioner to the costume would make it unbearably heavy. In addition, the performers would be unable to carry the costume.
Costume designers at Disney try to sew vents into costumes whenever possible, but sometimes this compromises the character’s authenticity.
Some Disney World characters wear ice vests to help keep cool in hot weather.
Many people feel that acting as a Disney World character is a dream they would love to attain. Therefore, Disney World emphasizes to applicants that the character costumes are very hot.
The management is stringent in controlling shifts and conditions to prevent performers from overheating. But, unfortunately, there are some conditions that they cannot control.
The most extreme heat occurs during parades when the performers have to walk long distances in the direct sun. Therefore, the risk of heat stress is high for these events.
Despite the heat, many people love performing as their favorite Disney World character. It is a unique job that offers the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.
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