What It’s Really Like To Wear Those Furry Costumes As Disney World Characters (Hint: It’s Hot AF)

Winnie the Pooh costumed character at Epcot
(Image credit: Cinemablend)

While Disney World and Disneyland are full of fun, memorable, and thrilling attractions. There may be no element inside the parks quite as important as character interactions. Disney Parks bring these popular characters to life in a way that’s difficult not to love, no matter how old you are. But while the Cast Members inside these costumes bring nothing but joy to the guests, wearing them can be a lot less fun, especially in the Florida heat.

Recently, Insider spoke with a former Walt Disney World cast member named Jenna Parkany. She regularly worked at the resort inside the Winnie the Pooh and King Louie costumes among others. It’s not necessarily all that shocking to learn that it’s hot inside those large, often furry, costumes. But Parkany says that Walt Disney World took that fact very seriously, as the costumed Cast Members were specifically trained on how to deal with the weather. The former Cast Member explains… 

As a performer, we did have very specific training schedules that helped us adapt to that weather, and then obviously the weight of the costumes and all of those elements together. Safety for performers is always no. 1 priority.

If you’ve watched those costumed characters wandering through the park or standing for photo ops for any length of time, you’ll notice that the ones in full costume take frequent breaks. This is because it’s legitimately tough to wear a full body costume like that. Even if it’s not super hot outside, and in Southern California or Florida it usually is, the costume is still very warm. It’s also, as Dale once showed us at Disneyland, tough to see in those costumes. The face characters, the ones who don’t have to wear full masks, like most of the Marvel heroes at Avengers Campus, don’t have many of these problems.

It’s not all about being uncomfortable dealing with awful heat though. Parkany talks about how much fun  being a costumed character can be. Most people in the parks are happy to see them, and sometimes she was even able to pull a smile from an otherwise jaded teenager. How do you not smile when Winnie the Pooh gives you a wave?

Costumed characters have had a rough time post-pandemic. Photo ops with guests were gone at Disney World and Disneyland when the parks reopened and the characters would be moved to places guests could see but not get to. This was actually kind of cool, as it made the characters feel more alive within the space, but sometimes all you want is to get a picture standing next to Mickey Mouse. 

The option to meet characters finally returned to Disney World recently. There’s quite a lot that’s new to Disney World in just the last few months.  Of course, now some of those meet-and-greet experiences are now attached to Genie+, which is maybe a bit less exciting.  

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.