Although we like to “keep the magic,” it’s pretty fascinating to sometimes blow away the pixie dust and find out what it’s really like at the happiest place on earth as an employee. While it’s one thing to be a character that walks around the park and takes pictures of tourist, it’s entirely another being Tinker Bell and flying high above Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World Resort. It may look glamorous, easy, and magical, but in real life, her job actually takes a lot of rigour and hard work.
Tinker Bell “flew” (a.k.a. zip-lined) over Disneyland in California in the Summer of 1961 but didn’t reach Walt Disney World Resort until 1985. It was originally intended to be a special holiday show appearance, but after receiving such a positive response, Tink became a permanent fixture every night to signal the start of the “Wishes” fireworks show. But what exactly goes into this high-flying spectacle? Tinker Bell herself will probably never reveal her secrets, so allow us to do the honours.
- There aren’t auditions for Tinker Bell specifically. A face character is an actor who doesn’t cover their actual face with a mask or costume (Tinker Bell is a face character whereas Goofy is not). They need to stay in character, dance, sing, and know quotes from their movies at all times. Many face actors come from the Disney College Program, going through rigorous auditions. Face characters can also switch gears and wear masks as they’re not tied to just one character but rather need to adapt to fit the park’s current needs. This means Tinker Bell one day could be Minnie Mouse the next.
- Tinker Bell needs to be petite. Costumes are not made for actors, but instead the actors need to fit into existing costumes. Tinker Bell needs to be approximately between 4’11” and 5’2″ tall and weigh 105 pounds or less (7 and a half stone). Tiny Kline was the first Tinker Bell in Disneyland, flying over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in 1961. She was 4’10”, weighed less than 7 stone, and being the daredevil she was, was 71 years old at the time!
Where does Tinker Bell land from her high flying adventure? There’s speculation that once ready for flight, Tinker Bell climbs up a ladder inside Cinderella’s Castle. At 189 feet above ground, there is a room so small it only can fit Tink and one other person for assistance. Once in flight she can descend the zip line from 20 to 35 mph for this 30-second flight. And with a little assistance from Tinker Bell’s friends, she comes to a halt with a mat to help halt her.
- Her costume actually weighs a lot. While it isn’t confirmed, the rumour is that Tink’s costume — wings and all — weighs approximately 70 pounds (5 stone). Since she travels at speeds up to 30 mph on her iconic flight, those wings are anything but flimsy.
- Tinker Bell is sometimes Tinker Bill. It’s rumoured that sometimes Tinker Bell is sometimes played by a man. We’re not going to question this one, but take a look up in the sky next time you’re at Disney just to see if Bell had to call in sick.
- Monthly reevaluations are mandatory. Keeping a consistent and realistic look is so important in these situations. Face character actors are evaluated once a month in costume. If there are any noticeable changes, the actor will assume a new role.
- There’s more than one Tinker Bell. With scheduling and scale, the park is simply too big for just one Tinker Bell. Everyone needs to look and act exactly the same, though, in order to keep up the illusion, and that includes their signatures. Face character actors spend a lot of time perfecting their character’s signature to “keep the magic.”
- Outside of work rules are strict. Tinker Bell can’t be on social media in character, for example. And if their hair is naturally blonde, they can’t come to the park with it in a bun. Anything that might give away Tinker Bell when she’s not in character will lead to a zero-tolerance termination. While these rules seem extreme, they’re put in place for a reason: to keep things as magical as possible for guests.
- The pay is awesome. It’s rumoured that Tink gets paid around $500 per flight across the Magic Kingdom’s sky, which isn’t bad for 30 seconds of work if you ask us.