These 10 Celebrities Worked at Disney Parks Before Their Big Break
Disney has been a source of entertainment for millions of people over the years—from its attractions to its parades and shows, Disney’s magic can be found in every corner of the world.
However, what many people don’t know is that Disney Parks have also been the starting point for several Hollywood stars before their careers took off. Let’s take a look at some of the stars whose beginnings were at a Disney Park!
Long before movie star Michelle Pfeiffer played Queen Ingrith in Disney’s “Maleficient: Mistress of Evil,” the actress worked at Disneyland as Alice in Wonderland in Main Street’s Electrical Parade. Her time at Disneyland inspired her to pursue an acting career and eventually led to her breakout role in the movie “Scarface.”
Before he starred as Coach Jim White in “McFarland, USA,” movie star Kevin Costner was a struggling actor. In the early 80s, Kevin Costner worked as a skipper on the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland Park. Costner even recalls literally running into Walt Disney himself more than 50 years ago at Disneyland!
Before he became a renowned comedian and host, Wayne Brady worked at Disney World in the 1990s as Tigger, performing in various shows and parades, including “The Tiki Room” and “Tarzan Rocks!” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
In an interview with Today’s Parent, Hollywood star Brady said his favorite Disney character was Tigger because he “loved his energy.” “I mean, who gets around by hopping on a springing tail?” mused Brady. “I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world as a young kid.”
Right before Taye Diggs starred in his game-changing role in “Rent,” the movie star worked at Tokyo Disneyland for almost as a year as the host of a show called “Sebastian’s Caribbean Carnival.” In a recent interview with Seth Meyers, he recalled his role there: “I sang, I had bananas on my arm, and it was tons of fun!”
Before he became a famous comedian and actor, Steve Martin worked at Disneyland after school, on weekends, and during the summer from the age of 10 to 18. He began as a guidebook seller at the park entrance and later sold souvenir spinning lassos in Frontierland.
After that, he spent three years at the old Merlin’s Magic Shop in Fantasyland where he demonstrated and sold packaged magic tricks and practical joke items. He performed magic tricks and sold jokes to visitors, which eventually helped him hone his craft and develop his signature comedic style.
Robin Williams, the legendary comedian and actor, once worked as a mime on Main Street in Disneyland in the late 1960s. He would often perform for guests, entertaining them with his physical humor and improvisation skills. Williams has spoken about his time at Disneyland Park fondly and credited the experience with helping to shape his comedic style.
Jennifer Hudson, the Academy Award-winning singer and actress, worked and performed on the Disney Cruise Line for 6 months right before she auditioned for American Idol.
“I was on a Disney Cruise Line the year I decided to audition for ‘American Idol,'” she told W Magazine in 2015. “I was Calliope the muse in ‘Hercules: The Muse-ical,’ and I was also the Circle of Life soloist in Disney’s cruise.”
After leaving the Disney cruise line, Hudson went on to audition for the third season of American Idol, where she became a fan-favorite and wowed the judges with her powerful voice. While her time on the Disney Cruise Line may have been a stepping stone to her eventual success, it undoubtedly helped her develop the talents that would launch her into movie stardom.
Before he was a member of one of the biggest boy bands in history, Kevin Richardson worked at the now-defunct MGM Studios Backlot Tour within Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. In an ABC special about Disney World’s 50th anniversary, the Backstreet Boy said, “It was an inspiring, incredible place to come to work every day.”
Kathryn Joosten is known for her roles as Dolores Landingham on NBC’s The West Wing and Karen McCluskey on ABC’s Desperate Housewives. But her journey to stardom began when she auditioned for a role as a theme park performer in 1992. As fate would have it, Disney-MGM Studios had come to Chicago, presenting her with a golden opportunity.
In a touching reflection shared in a 2009 Forbes essay, she shared, “After standing in line for five hours, I auditioned and won a job as a ‘Streetmosphere’ player. By now my boys were older and on their own, so I could accept the offer and move to Florida. I played Annie Hannigan, cleaning lady to the stars. The contract only lasted a year, but it convinced me that I could make a living acting.”
Joosten revealed that this unconventional start at Disneyland was a pivotal moment that shaped her path to becoming a renowned actress.
Taboo of The Black Eyes Peas
Before becoming a renowned artist and member of the Black Eyed Peas, Taboo had a lesser-known chapter in his life that involved working at Disneyland. In an interview with the OC Register, Taboo revealed his experience working at the theme park before his rise to fame.
“I emptied the trash and wiped down tables,” Taboo told the Register in 2011. “But my job that I remember the most was picking up horse manure for the Electrical Parade.”
The connection between Taboo and Disneyland resurfaced during the 2022 Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade when he mentioned his past job while performing. It’s a testament to the magic of Disneyland, where dreams are not only realized by the guests but also by the talented individuals who once walked its streets. Taboo’s story serves as a reminder that everyone starts somewhere, and the magic of Disney can inspire and shape lives in unexpected ways.
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