I’ve been talking a lot lately about releasing a short e-book detailing my adventures up to this point moving to and living in China. The book isn’t ready yet and I’m beginning to feel impatient.
So to remedy this impatience I dusted off an old e-book I wrote years ago about my first gig as a performer for Walt Disney World in Florida. I read it and laughed quite a lot, so I got out the scissors and begun cutting into it.
I edited it, took lots out, put some new stuff in and bam, I had a new version of my old book. So I put it back up on amazon and it’s available once again for 99c Right HERE on Amazon!
I’m keen that you guys see it first so here below is the first chapter of my little Disney book. If you like it, jump over to Amazon and get it to read on your phone, tablet or Kindle. I’d appreciate it! Then come back here and tell me what you thought!
So here below is the first chapter of ‘Becoming the Performer Disney is Looking For’
Im sitting in a bizarre Chinese café drinking the best coffee in the city, thinking about how I will spend my intensely long work breaks at my newly acquired role in Shanghai. This job gives me a two-and-a-half hour break right in the middle of the day, and I can’t afford lavish trips to strange animal-themed cafés forever.
This one is stuffed to the brink with plush African safari creatures and has a strange fruity smell. I’m not one to complain, though – the coffee is strong and the break unending, almost Sandinavian in its generosity. In this long, meditative space to think, it hit me that it was time to reopen the book I wrote in 2013, put onto Amazon, then pulled off the internet mere months later. There are die-hards in the field of Disney memoirs, and details of my glorious experience were not sufficient for them.
I’m Jordan and this is the beginning of a self-published book I originally wrote back in 2013 following a year spent working at Walt Disney World in Florida, which I’ve rewritten and updated with lots of new stories and cleaning up of old content. In 2012 I was a performer for Disney World; coming down from my Disney high, I wrote about my experiences during the boring part of 2013. Following this I worked for Disney Cruise Line for five contracts. A cruise ship contract is a predetermined period of time every cruise ship worker across the industry agrees to before serving their time and being released back onto land to wreak havoc with newfound freedom and a few grand in savings.
I performed for Walt Disney World for just over a year, then Disney Cruise Line for a few years, and finished it all up with Royal Caribbean International so that I could be based in China. Think about Disney shows and imagine what’s happening ahead of time and behind the scenes to bring all the colorful characters and magic to life. It takes a lot of people and a money to make it all happen. Because of its enormous size, Disney obviously needs a lot of people and for a period of about four years I played a small part in the action. Like any meaningful relationship, it was a symbiotic journey though, with Disney shaping me as much I did it.
So here I present my original stories, and some new ones to bring us up-to-date. This book is for people who like to read stories about Disney and about the grit and glamor of shows, but mostly it’s for people who are acting in community theatre and wondering if there’s really a dollar to be made elsewhere and whether any old schmuck can make it. Of course there is! And the industry is almost entirely populated by schmucks. You’ve just got to work really hard, audition millions of times, buy lots of Häagen Dazs, and don’t be a diva. That last one is much easier said than done. I can tell you now that if a crying dancer who’s in a show I’m managing comes complaining to me about a funny feeling in his ankle that might “turn into something” when I saw him on Facebook tearing up the dance floor the night before in the club, still has bloodshot eyes and a boozey body, and know for a fact that he’s fighting with his boyfriend (also in the cast), so help me God the fury comes. Be better, for goodness’ sake, man! Be the professional the industry is craving. Be God damned competent and you’ll be fine – there’s plenty of money to be spent. Why not spend it on you?
I’d like you to first take a moment if you will, to remember April 2011. Do you recall what you were doing? Easter is just over and . . . like all humans there’s no way you’d remember, but for me I wrote it down and put it online so I’m at a slight advantage. I was sitting in my parent’s living room in northern Australia enduring the heat and trying to avoid permanently sticking to the couch. I had been “let go” from my job and university was growing more skull crushingly boring by the day. Adding to that was an encompassing feeling of age and failure that was growing on me like any other reasonable 22-year-old who hasn’t yet made the big time. Looking back now, nearly 30, and at the tail end of my performance days and the mouth end of my casting days I miss my weight and my working joints. (Hey, cruise ship life really takes the steam out of someone who goes to the gym twice a year). I was practically retired in my mind at the time, ready for hosting bingo nights in Sun Valley. There was something about performing to a tiny audience at the local theatre in my hometown, as fun as it was, that didn’t feel as fulfilling as it once did.
Whether by some misplaced sense of entitlement or gross overconfidence in my performance skill I wasn’t sure. But regardless, I wanted something else. Community theatre is an amazing training ground though, and a fine lifetime way to keep acting throughout what life throws at you – never let it be said that I disparage community theatre.My entire family was sitting in the lounge watching something loud on TV and I was on my laptop searching local jobs when a Disney audition was one of the advertisements on the side of the screen. Disney was running an internship program for a variety of fields of employment; this included a casting call for performers. The casting day was in a week’s time and I happened to have that day off from both work and university. To add fuel to the fires of fate, that day was the very last day for registration. Hoping for a reprieve from the mundanities of my Australian life,
I arrived a week later at the casting, carting half a ton of the requisite paperwork. I watched the nice Brazilian receptionist who Disney had brought with them staple them together and comment that surprisingly everything was there. Essentially, the tough life starts now; it’s not easy getting all of that paperwork together. The website Disney had available at the time was buggy and it wasn’t easy getting through fourteen pages of forms that would stop loading randomly then crash the browser. To be honest, I devoted an entire day to getting this form finished. It’s because of this, and the amount of other forms required, that I believe is the reason several people turned up without everything they needed. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world for these hopefuls – they were sent away to find a computer and finish the job, but I believe it paid off for me to have the forms to create a good first impression.I went to another casting call years later in Auckland, for the city’s first ever Disney casting.
The process has become much easier than when I was jumping through the hoops. I think they figured out that there are better ways than paperwork to weed out the casuals. I also suspect it has something to do with Disney’s more modern worldwide casting database that they now pull performers from, something that sort of pushes today’s performers further into obscurity and out of the minds of individual casting agents.From what I’ve seen, Disney seems to be doing less direct casting for specific needs and more casting using a database. Then when talent is needed across a range of disciplines they can be found and offered work more quickly. It’s an efficient system, but it’s an easy system to be lost in amongst the thousands of people just as talented and pretty as you. Waiting for the results of an audition can be intensely nauseating when you’re still green enough to wait for notice from auditions, but luckily for me this is the casting call that I waited for and it came through. (This of course led to a period of time of me thinking that I was someone who landed roles. Wrong. I barely landed anything again for three years). One night, June 1st 2011 to be exact, I received an email from a lady named Karina from Disney Recruiting: Congratulations!! You have been offered the position of Entertainment Performer with Walt Disney World to begin in January 2012! Please reply to either accept or decline.Seconds later Karina received the world’s fastest reply, then I leaped from my desk and performed my once in a lifetime happy dance.After that came six months of preparation, and by preparation I mean walking around with a permanent cocky smile, throwing money around because I had “made it” and was gonna earn fancy American dollar bills. This was followed up with a gym chaser – once, to prepare my body for the stress of daily entertainment.
The airport goodbye was traumatic. All my friends were in a teary mess. I had already left my family at their house in much the same manner. I never repeated that mistake again, so when it was time for each subsequent goodbye after that point it became a casual wave and a crappy joke. From Brisbane I began my journey to Nadi Airport in Fiji (no, the airport is not a tropical paradise), then to Los Angeles, which was under renovations at the time so a nightmare of a maze. Then finally to Orlando, Florida, which I decided on the bus ride to my resort was not somewhere I would ever live under different circumstances. It’s not really a city that makes a lot of sense; it’s more of a small town but on a massive scale. It almost feels like a beachside city without a beach. Downtown was pretty though – at night it had a Batman sort of feel to it.
This unusual city, however, houses 100 square kilometers worth of Disney, plus every other theme park ever dreamed up since the time of Jesus. You can even meet Jesus at “The Holy Land Experience”, the Bible-themed park just down the road. I could only speculate on the audition and casting process that the holy hopefuls needed to endure.
If you’d like to read the rest Click Right Here!