Being a Performer for Universal Orlando Resort: The Audition Process

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Since early childhood, I knew I wanted to be involved in the theater. There is just something about performing on stage and being anyone you wanted. I would turn on the TV and see a Disney commercial and the children looked so happy. The performers had so much energy and looked like they were having so much fun. I wanted that.

After I graduated with my A.A. degree I had no idea what I wanted to do. I decided to apply to work for Disney World on a whim. I went to my first audition to be a performer in NYC and over 800 people were there. We registered at the desk, put a number on our shirts and then sat in a room for about an hour.  Unfortunately, I got cut after the first round. But I didn’t give up.

I worked at Disney in attractions and kept attending auditions while I was in Florida. The first one I went to I got cut from again after the first round. I felt so defeated. A few months later my friend told me about an audition for Universal Orlando. It wasn’t Disney but I went anyways.

It was much different than the Disney auditions.

We walked into the registration room and filled out a piece of paper with our resumes and head shot attached. They took our height, weight, and hip measurements. Then we grabbed a number and waited. After about 30 minutes they called the first 50 people into a room by numerical order. We lined up in front of the casting director and he had us go around one by one, saying our names and our favorite Universal/Harry Potter characters. After he cut about 10 people, he had the rest of us split into groups of 4 and he gave us a scenario and told us to act it out without using words. We had to act out being ‘dogs in a dog park’ … easy.

After that we waited some more, he cut 20 more people. He then brought us back in and had us learn a simple jazz routine. After that he cut about 5 more people leaving about 7 people left including me. He said we would be coming back in a week to do “character fittings” as we were in the final round of consideration.

A week later we all sat in the same registration room and as they called us all in, we went into another room, this time character costumes were on racks everywhere. For reference, some of the Universal characters are: SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora and Diego, The Simpsons, Minions, Penguins of Madagascar, Curious George, and Woody Woodpecker. They asked me to go over to rack that held the costume for Diego and SpongeBob and asked me to try on Diego first. Honestly, it was hysterical because I was “transforming” into this character. The best comparison I have for putting on a character costume is it’s like putting on snow pants and a jacket with helmet.

My vision changed as well. I had to look through these tiny eye holes that made it hard to see and my feet were heavy with the character feet. While we waited in this makeshift line to walk up to the casting directors, all the people who were also auditioning with me suddenly turned into these characters and I couldn’t recognize who was who anymore. We all just started laughing in our costumes, asking who each person was while we waited in line. People would be tripping in line over their big feet or over the fact that they weren’t used to the costumes. Each costume I tried on varied in size and weight, but I tried on over 10 character costumes in total.

In the end I was there for over two hours and I found out later that I tried on the most characters/costumes out of everyone there. At that point I was pretty sure I was hired. A week later I was working in Fantasyland at Disney and I got the email that changed my whole life. I was to be a performer for Universal Orlando Resort.

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My name is Mariah Olmstead and I'm a Senior at NEC. I transferred to NEC in fall of 2019 and I'm currently a communications major with a concentration in Journalism and Media/Production. Before coming to NEC, I worked for the Walt Disney Company and Universal Studios Orlando as a performer, and before that I was a student at Community College of Vermont. I want to be a travel writer or work for a production/media company once I graduate in the spring. I love Kpop, theatre, and dancing. Most of my editorials are personal stories or related to theme parks, and the Kpop industry. Once I graduate, I plan on teaching English abroad in Korea.
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