No live actor wants to break character. It’s embarrassing, it could ruin a punch line, make someone else miss their line, or overall destroy the illusion for the audience. Usually, it would not result in the end of a career, but at Disney, where the roles are extraordinarily competitive, it could be cause for dismissal. Stories of Disney Parks actors breaking character are few and far between. More common are stories of incredible control, with actors staying in character through seemingly impossible situations. These Redditors share their experiences of Disney Parks actors making spectacular saves, as well as rare instances of the actors breaking character in extreme situations.
1. Oh, Bother
I was at Disney with my kids once, and the guy playing Pooh must have been drunk or something. Security guards were escorting Pooh out, and he kept messing with guests on his way whenever he could. I was looking at my map, just standing there, and Pooh slapped it right out of my hands.
2. Gassy Fetish
Once, my boyfriend and I went to a haunted house and there was a creepy character following us every time we turned around. Eventually, my boyfriend said, "I tooted there." The guy stared and us and, still in character, replied: "I like toots."
3. A Good Reason?
Many years ago, a friend of a friend worked as one of the characters at one of the Disney Hotels. One day, he accidentally fell into the pool, and in desperation took his head off to save himself. He was fired immediately for doing that because apparently they expect the workers’ instinct for survival to be less important than the order to stay in character.
4. If Goofy Acts Goofy, Is It Really Breaking Character?
In high school, we had a trip to Disneyland with the choir. We were having a pre-park opening photo op with Goofy. We said we were from Springfield, Oregon, and Goofy said very quietly, "Heh, the Simpsons." It was very strange, and nobody else broke character the whole time, so we didn't say anything about it.
5. An Honorable Response
The first time I met Mulan, I walked right up to her and said, “You know, I once had to cross-dress to join the army, too.” Without skipping a beat, she replied, “You must have brought honor to your family.”
I chaperoned a gentleman with special needs to Disneyland as part of a group tour. When our group of special needs individuals met the characters, they were all absolutely incredible with our people. Minnie flirted with the friend I took, and Merida flirted with me, but the best of all was Cruella de Vil. Normally, she is supposed to insult whoever she takes pictures with.
With us, she managed to technically stay in character, but not say anything actually mean. She said to one guy with a cane, “Ah, I like your cane. You can use it to beat little ones out of your way.”
7. Winnie the Potty Mouth
I wasn't a character, but I was a cast member. I was walking from backstage into the park. The transitional areas are S-shaped, to keep people from peeking in. I was pushing a dolly/hand-cart that had two long supports sticking out of the end. As I was going through, Winnie the Pooh was walking in from the other side, invisible behind the curve—but it was too late.
I accidentally hit him square in the leg with the cart! Hearing Winnie the Pooh drop the F-word was priceless.
8. Knock Yourself Out
A friend of mine told me about a time an acrobat fell off a float, face planted into the ground, and knocked herself out. The other characters had to surround her in a circle and dance in sync as they dragged her body away, screening her from the crowds. They played it off well and apparently no one noticed!
9. Fire is No Excuse—Even For Woody
I have a close friend who played Woody for a while at Disneyland. He said that one time, a float caught on fire during a show, and the actors managed to play it off completely in character. They danced around it and got it backstage quickly to deal with the problem. He said they played it off well enough that no one seemed to notice since there wasn’t any panic in the crowd!
10. When Disney Throws Gang Signs
One of the traditions for our college sorority back in the 80s was that the day after initiation, all the new members and their “big sisters” would go to Disneyland, sporting their brand new letters. One of the costumed characters in the parade kept throwing gang signs or something at us, and we were so confused—it turns out it was one of our sisters who had to work that day!
She was trying to do our sorority’s hand symbol, but with her hands in oversized furry gloves, it didn’t show up so well.
When I was six years old or so, I went to Disney World with my mom, aunt, and cousins. I really wanted Captain Hook’s autograph, but per his character, he wasn't supposed to give it. I started crying over it, and my mom went and asked him again—nicely, I hope—and told him that I was very upset over it. He signed my book, even though he wasn't supposed to, and I always thought that was neat.
So, to Captain Hook from 1989 or so, if you're out there—thanks, and I hope you didn't get in trouble for that!
12. Three’s A Crowd
When I was a kid, my Dad convinced me to tell the Evil Queen from Snow White that I thought she was the fairest one of them all. She was delighted, and I got to go on a "date" with her the next day. As it turns out, Captain Hook was her boyfriend. At a character breakfast, he leaned in with the huge mask practically swallowing my head and whispered, "We'll share her."
I thought it was the coolest thing ever at the time.
13. Baloo’s Blunder
While not a character myself, I did have to work the parade route from time to time, making sure kids didn't dart out in front of floats and such. "Friends of characters," as we were called, would often be playful with the characters along the parade route by winking, making silly faces, etc. One day, Baloo came up to me mid-dance and proceeded to bow to me.
Baloo also happened to be wearing some sort of crown/hat thing with a star on the top. Baloo evidently wasn't aware of how tall that actually made him, because he managed to smack me right in the mouth with that star, cutting it open and giving me a fat lip. I’m fairly certain I heard Baloo audibly gasp when they stood upright again, and he had his paws to his mouth.
We both immediately stopped dancing, and he just stared at me as I bled. He tried to grab my hands and pull me to him, but his handler came and ushered him along. Oops.
My neighbor worked at Disney for years. One day, while he was stocking shelves in a gift shop, he came around the corner and nearly ran into none other than Paul and Linda McCartney. Before he could stop himself, he loudly exclaimed, "HOLY COW! It's the McCartneys!" He immediately realized how big of a breach of Disney "cast member" etiquette he had committed and turned 12 shades of red.
But before anything bad could happen, Paul and Linda just smiled and laughed and introduced themselves. Apparently they were wonderfully laid back about such things and quite used to surprised reactions when people recognized them in public. He didn't get into any trouble—his boss saw the whole episode and thought it was hilarious.
I think they both signed a hat or something for him as they were checking out.
15. Up Close and Personal
I heard of one performer who had to escape and get a restraining order after one of her fans got a full back tattoo of her, and came to show her—but that wasn’t the worst part. The tattoo was not of her in costume.
16. The Ol’ Apple Juice
I once saw Jack Sparrow talking to a kid when, all of a sudden, the kid started puking everywhere. Without missing a beat, Jack Sparrow said, "Too much of the ol' apple juice eh? Been there myself! Even ran out once!" All the while, the kid was just projectile vomiting everywhere.
17. Darth-Vader First Aid
I work for a company that does Disney-Themed kids birthday parties. One weekend, I was Darth Vader in Malibu. It was only one kid, which was rare, but we had fun. We played lightsaber hide and seek, which is normal hide and seek with a duel at the end. I had him practice the force on me, helping him focus and toss me to the wall.
In the middle of all the fun, the kid started coughing. It was subtle at first, but then it got worse. It got to the point where it sounded like he couldn’t breathe at all—and then he stopped moving. I frantically called for help and took off my helmet and was about to perform CPR when the mother finally came in with his inhaler.
She told me he couldn’t play anymore because he had bad asthma, and it got worse the more active he was. I put the helmet back on played things off once he recovered. We opened presents together, and I left. To this day, I can’t understand why that mother watched me play with her kid, knowing his condition and didn’t say a word about it until the poor kid nearly suffocated.
I called my boss and told her that I needed to know all medical conditions before the party right away from then on. I hope that kid had fun. I still feel horrible for almost offing him in the process of teaching him the ways of the dark side.
18. Wardrobe Malfunction
My best friend is a very popular face character and she’s told me some hilarious stories. One time, she nearly broke character was when she was doing a meet and greet, a young boy came in who got very overexcited and yanked her wig off—but that wasn’t the worst part. They put hundreds of bobby pins in her hair to keep the wigs on, so you can imagine the pain of having it torn off.
She had to restrain herself SO hard to not scream out, but she did it! Unfortunately, the wig was hanging off her head, making her character look terrifying, and everyone in the room just froze. The little boy started crying hysterically and had to be rushed from the room. They ended up closing her room up so she could get fixed, but she said it was a pretty crazy moment.
Apparently, the parents were so embarrassed that they didn’t even say anything to her and just bolted from the room with the boy.
19. Working for the Mouse
Some college friends and I went to Disneyland right after graduation. We were at breakfast at the Disneyland Hotel, where characters come around and mingle during dining. We were all complaining about our jobs and industry when Cinderella came up and asked us, “How are you all doing this lovely morning?” One of my friends told her that we were complaining about our jobs and bosses.
Cinderella looked left, looked right, and then said quietly without moving her lips, “You should try working for the Mouse.” She somehow didn’t stop her wide Cinderella smile the whole time. My best Disney moment ever.
20. Code Pooh
I worked at Club Disney for the brief time it was open. We had secret codes we used on the radio headsets that were coordinated with character names. For instance, Code Baloo meant there was blood that needed to be cleaned up immediately. One day, I was taking a stroll around the club to check on things when I spotted a small boy, about two years old, taking a massive dump right in the middle of the play area.
He saw me, started to cry, and ran away with no clothing on the lower half of his body. I got on the radio and couldn’t think of what to say, as we hadn't discussed a code for "human poop in the play area and a kid running around in the buff." So I just called, "I have a Code Pooh situation in the play area and Piglet's on the loose."
21. Don’t Mess With Piglet
My mom was a costumed character for a couple of years at Disneyland. She was very committed to keeping character, but there was one instance where she broke. Two teens jumped her when she was playing Piglet and started beating her. At first, she just tried to block and defend herself, but at one point she knocked one of the boys to the ground and pinned him.
Considering my Mom's only 4'10" tall and was wearing ~50 lbs. of costume, I consider that fairly impressive. The other kid continued to assault her, and I think she may have yelped or cried out, because the kid she had pinned heard her and said, "Oh shoot, it's a chick!"
22. Eeyore Finds A Valentine
My family went to Disneyworld a few times when I was a kid. My dad was abusive, physically and verbally, and we eventually left him when I was 12. He was awful on vacations by just being miserable in general. It was Valentine's Day and my Mom, Dad, older sister and I were at one of the parks. All of the characters had big red hearts on a string around their necks.
My sister was around 8 and I would have been 6. We had just gotten ice cream and my sister and I were excitedly looking around for our favorite characters. My sister spotted Eeyore (her all-time favorite character), so she turned around excitedly and my Dad, not paying attention, ran right into my sister holding her ice cream cone, and got it on his shirt. His reaction was utterly chilling.
He hauled off and smacked her in the side of the face, knocking off her glasses and making her drop her ice cream cone. She started crying as my Mom started yelling at him, while he defended his actions, saying my sister should have watched where she was going. The next thing we knew, my sobbing sister was being hugged by Eeyore.
It shocked her out of crying, and she was suddenly so incredibly happy because of EEYORE! Eeyore just kept hugging her, while my Mom started taking pictures. Eeyore stopped hugging my sister only to point to his paper heart, then to her. Then he hugged her again. There is a picture somewhere in my Mom’s basement of my sister and I standing with Eeyore, my sister beaming, but also clearly looking like she has been crying.
I still think about that Eeyore to this day and wonder what they were thinking. It was the early 90s when people were largely still expected to mind their business when it came to things like that, and I realize he may not have been able to do anything else anyway, but I appreciate his gesture nonetheless. Thanks, Eeyore.
23. Tough Lady
I worked as a security guard, but at Disney, security has a "character" too: look intimidating. One day, there was a domestic case at the parks. The authorities took "Dad" away and I, from that point, was to walk Mom and her little boy to their hotel room, as they were worried that the dad would somehow sneak back into the property.
They were VERY afraid. As I was walking them, I heard the mother talking softly to her son. "You see? Your Mama's strong and we'll be just fine, the two of us. We're going to have a great trip. See that lady?" she gestured to me. "See? She's a girl too, and look how tough she is! I bet they gave us the toughest guard around."
Later, I got called again when they were ready to go to the parks, as they were still worried that Dad would come back to their hotel. I was walking them and the little boy looked up at me and asked me a question that shattered my heart into a million pieces. He said, “Miss? I'm scared. Are you sure we're going to be ok?"
I stopped, knelt down to his level, and said, "You're going to be just fine. Your Mommy's really tough and she was right, I'm tough too, and best of all, my best friend, Mickey Mouse, made sure to tell all the strongest, toughest people in the park to protect you today. He even cast extra magic to make sure you two have a great day, so don't worry. Just have fun!"
He brightened up and gave me a hug and it was the first time I almost cried on the job.
24. Dark Plans
I went to a Disney Park with a friend, and we were getting photos with/interacting with Kylo Ren. Everything went great, and at the end of the visit, I told him I was going to work for the dark side. As he menacingly stared at me while I told him this—he was not allowed to make any noise—I shared my idea of doing something evil: I would go spill someone's drink.
This caused him to let out a barely-audible, breathy chuckle. To this day, I consider that one of my greatest accomplishments. I have not accomplished much.
25. VERY NICE
It must have been in 2008, and I went to Disneyland with my friend. Borat was the hottest movie ever at the time, and I had happened to stumble on a shirt that had the outline of Kazakhstan and the words "Spring Break Kazakhstan! It's nice!" I wore the shirt in the park. We ended up at some photo opportunity with Pluto, and he made a big fuss about my shirt, without saying anything, of course, just acting excited.
When the photographer said, "Say cheese!" the guy in the Pluto costume yelled, "VERY NICE!!" That was a funny and unexpected moment of broken character.
26. Fairy Tale
A co-worker of mine was the flying Tinkerbell during “Fantasmic,” one of the shows at the park. At the time, Tinkerbell as a character was never portrayed by anyone in a close-up fashion; it was only portrayed through the show, and therefore always a long-distance portrayal. One day, my co-worker was walking around Downtown Disney, in regular clothes, just burning time before she had to go backstage to get harnessed up.
A family was nearby, and my co-worker overheard the daughter say that she had collected nearly every character’s autograph except a couple. The one she really wanted but didn’t have was Tinkerbell’s, but because no one at the time portrayed Tinkerbell in a meet-able fashion, it would be impossible for the little girl to get it.
Now, every cast member who becomes a character goes through autograph school, no matter what role they have, or how often they have to face guests in a close manner. This rule includes Tinkerbell. So, my friend explained who she was to the parents, and asked them to distract the little girl for a few seconds. When the little girl looked away, she signed the autograph book without the little girl seeing and gave it back.
The parents then exclaimed, “Wow!!! Tinkerbell heard you wanted her autograph! She came and gave you this, and then just flew away!!!” The little girl was so star-struck.
27. Foot In Mouth
More than ten years ago, my friend was a Face Character at Disneyland and told me about her friend who played Goofy. One day, Goofy’s shift was over, and he was trying to walk to the back area to cool off when a very angry mom started yelling at him because he “ignored her son.” In reality, he couldn’t see them past his costume as he was turning to walk away. The lady then called him racist and said that Goofy was ignoring them because they were black.
Goofy turned around to greet the child and signed his autograph book. He then turned to the mom and slipped up his sleeve to quickly point at his own black skin underneath the costume before pulling his sleeve down and walking away.
28. Flawed Logic
I once saw a kid purposely barf all over Pluto's paws, much to the laughter of his friends, and then tell Pluto to "lick it up.” Pluto walked over to a nearby security guard and pointedly started cursing out the kid. Of course, the kid and his friends were thrown out of the park, but the kicker was what the kid said when security was escorting them out.
The guard asked what he hoped to accomplish with something so disgusting. The boy explained, "Pluto's a dog and dogs eat vomit! Figured he'd lick it clean."
29. Heart of Gold
A face performer broke character for my husband and I. I won’t say which park, but we took a trip to Disney about two months after our infant son passed. He was our first. Our entire nursery was Peter Pan-themed, and we had always wanted to take him to Disney to have him meet Peter. I got a memorial tattoo, an exact replica of my son’s hospital ink handprint, and we wanted a picture of Peter Pan with the tattoo, to symbolically bring him there.
We were alone with Peter Pan and his handler, and I tearfully explained the situation before asking him to pose with my arm. He took lots of photos with my tattoo and us. Afterward, he hugged me tight, told me he was proud of me, and that he was so, so sorry for our loss. It was amazing, emotional, and I’ll never forget that Peter Pan was proud of me for finding the strength to keep on living.
It honestly meant the world. I’m so glad he broke character. I’ll always treasure those photos and that memory.
30. Nearly Tail-less Nick
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine had to dress up as Nick from Zootopia for his shift. The tail is a massive metal spring to help give the illusion that it can move on its own. One day, he was doing his rounds with his partner and they had a bit of a troublemaker, an 11-year-old boy who was being a little rough and pulling on his tail.
Keep in mind, this tail is fairly heavy, at around 40 lbs., and is attached to his back pretty firmly. With no real proper field of vision other than the tunnel vision they get, no breaking of character allowed, and no security nearby, he was in a bit of a pickle. Fortunately for Nick, the father of said troublemaker told him to stop and apologize.
The boy did so with a sour disposition that gave the impression he really didn't care. After the apology, a young girl behind my friend called out, "Hey Nick!" Without missing a beat, my friend did a complete 180, attempting to hit the troublemaker with his tail. He got purchase, smacked the kid with a good thud, and knocked the kid down.
While my friend was giving attention to the little girl, he was terrified that he was going to get fired for his little stunt. Luckily for him, the dad pulled through again by laughing at his kid's misfortune, and saying something along of the lines of "you know you deserved that, right?"