Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Day the Show Went to Potts

So I used to have a blog before this one...you may have read about it here...and I sometimes wrote stories about the dumb, embarassing things I was prone to do. Some of them are pretty funny...so I am going to repost them here every once in a while.

This one I am reposting specifically in response to "She Likes Ruffles..." request for stories of being traumatized at theme parks.



Working in Entertainment at Disney is perhaps one of the most bizarre things a person can do in their life time. The general atmosphere of the performers is that of "G" level celebrities. If you were to spread them around the world, all the performers at Disney would fade into the background with their spandex tights and overdone make-up and no one would ever notice them; but put 2,000 or so G-list 'celebs' in close enough space that their egos all start to collide, and you have one VERY dramatic work environment. Although I do plan on writing more about this entire experience some day, I thought I would tide you all over with this fun story...

I am 5 feet, 11 inches tall. In Disney terms, that means I am Tigger height. I used to be 5 feet, 11 ½ inches tall. But due to one too many times in the hip bone crushing "great wall of China" (above left) and spine melting, 55 lb, spinning/dancing/basically-ignored-by-everyone-viewing-the-parade pagoda (above right), I lost ½ an inch. This may not seem like a big deal, but at Disney, it meant the world. There is a ½ inch grace on all of the height ranges. The tallest height range is 6’ and above. That height range encompasses Goofy, Woody, Baloo, Captain Hook, Queen of Hearts and others. Tigger height range is 5’ 9” to 5’ 11”. The only thing in Tigger’s height range is Tigger.

Ok…so I know that is pointless drivel...but I find it important to the story. Anyway, there are two more things that I think you should know as background before I can start the story. 1) The height range for Sweetums (the monster at MuppetVision 3D who tosses the ‘water’ out at the audience) is 6’ and above (Goofy height). I was trained as a Sweetums** before being demoted to Tigger height and was ‘grandfathered’ and allowed to continue doing the show, even though I was an inch out of the height range. 2) The height range for Beast in the Beauty and the Beast (B&B) show is 6’1” and above...the height range for Mrs. Potts is 5’ 8” to 5’ 10”. There are lots of Beast/Sweetums trained people. I became the first, and probably only, Sweetums/Potts trained person in the history of Disney...and this is why:

Through a series of very surprising events, I had recently been selected to learn the Mrs. Potts track at B&B. After going through the rehearsals and being ‘approved’ in the role, I was scheduled for my first day of shows a few days after I finished training. I was very eager to show all the people who were whispering about my being a Potts/Sweetums that I was up to the task.

The Mrs. Potts costume is basically a backpack that you climb into and snap on. The actor’s head is inside the pink ball at the top of ‘her’ pot. (see picture to the right)At her base, there is a plastic oilcloth that protects the underneath of the costume from getting dirty if it hits the ground while you are performing.

Like I said, I was really excited to do my first show; so when it came time for me to make my grand entrance, I revved up all my energy and burst out onto the stage. I had taken no more than 10 steps when my foot started to catch on the oilcloth under the skirting and I lost complete control of my footing and fell over. There was an audible gasp from the packed audience as I rolled a few feet and landed on my side, suspended by the backpack in the middle of the costume with my legs kicking out the end. The gasps turned to giggles and then to full-out laughter as I desperately tried to get up from my suspended position within the costume.

The B&B show is on a track so the rest of the scene was still going on while I writhed around on the floor. Eventually, a few stage hands came over and tipped me upright so that I could stand up. But here is where it got really difficult. You see, I was laughing so hard I could barely contain myself and my legs were like jello. When the stage hands propped me up, my legs were now in a crouched position beneath me and try as I might, I could not stand up. The weight of the costume, combined with the suction-cup effect of the plastic sheeting against the stage, plus my inability to stop laughing along with all 1,200 of the audience members was making the simple task of standing next-to impossible. I finally, in the nick-of-time, with seconds to spare before they shut down the whole show, got it together enough to rock myself forward, stand up and scamper off the stage to rousing applause.

After I finished the show, I got out of costume and was immediately handed the phone. It was scheduling telling me to go report to MuppetVision 3D, they needed a Sweetums.

Not surprisingly, I was never, ever scheduled for B&B again, and that outstanding performance as Mrs. Potts ended up being my only one.

** I stole this picture of Sweetums at the MuppetVision3D show from this web site.


  1. Oh...my...gosh!!!! AMAZING! I can just see your little fit kicking around as you were sprawled out on the floor. I bet everyone at the show was talking about it afterward! Good thing no one could actually see your face - so much less embarrassing that way...right?

  2. I love this story, very much.

  3. THIS gave me the heartiest laugh I've had all day. Thank you!

  4. Ha ha. Elsa's new pull-ups have Mrs Potts on the butt, and whenever I see them now I think of you. :)

  5. Now *that* is some funny stuff. What a sight that must have been!

  6. This story is absolutely amazing! As a child raised at Disney World, I totally remember the laughter that would come when a character messed up- it was bad but oh so funny!

  7. I LOVE hearing your Disney stories! More! More! :)