Disney is supposed to be magical, and it has often succeeded. Whether it reminds you of a physical location, or simply the collection of stories that helped cultivate your sense of adventure, longing for fairy tale romance (actually not so great), and love of fantasy—Disney shaped many of us, for better or worse.
Disney also shaped the life of Mikey Jacobs, who played Goofy for over 20 years at Walt Disney World.
In 2016 he did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) and shared a whole bunch of secrets, not all of which maintain the Disney magic™. Here’s what we learned:
Disney Folks Can Be Petty And Gross Just Like Everybody Else
If you’ve ever marveled at the unfaltering poise of a Disney princess or imagined a cartoon character as an infinite source of love and compassion, we regret to inform you that, like many ideas that bring you joy, these are figments of your imagination. Jacobs reveals that, behind the scenes, there are often social hierarchies among the Disney characters.
Management was a more consistent drag, as they increasingly pressured the Disney characters to go “faster and faster,” which meant that they had less time to spend making more in-depth connections with individual guests.
Sometimes the incongruities are a bit more lighthearted. One Reddit user asked the former Goofy what was the funniest thing he’d ever heard a Disney character say while in costume. His answer is the stuff of Disney dreams: “‘I just farted’ – Cinderella”
Disney Characters Get Stalkers
You wouldn’t necessarily imagine that an anthropomorphic animal would elicit deep romantic devotion (unless you’re a furry, then that’s perhaps exactly what you would imagine?). But it seems that plenty of visitors actually have a thing for Disney characters (though it’s a lot easier when you can see the real person, like Gaston or Cinderella).
Nevertheless, the Goofy suit seemed to do it for two individuals who Jacobs said stalked him for around eight months. He writes:
Disney Character Costumes Are As Miserably Hot As They Seem
Some jobs require us to wear uncomfortable clothing. Depending on your place of work, you may be expected to wear a suit, an itchy uniform, or hot pants, and you probably have days where you’re like, “Nah, I’d rather not.” You may or may not have the freedom to switch things up.
If you’re a Disney character, however, you definitely do not have that freedom. On top of that, apart from, say, someone participating in a Renaissance reenactment who has to wear heavy knight armor, there would be literally nothing worse than having to wear a giant, furry costume in peak summer heat.
When asked how he survived on really hot days, Jacobs says:
Working At Disney Is A Lot Like Many Other Service Jobs
If you’ve spent any amount of time in a customer service position, where absorbing the complaints and nurturing the whims of others is regarded as a job requirement, you’ll probably understand why service jobs, at their worst, can be emotionally draining and infuriating.
Working as a Disney character is no different. When asked what his worst customer experience was, Jacobs says it was a tie between two experiences, one of which was having his life threatened at a Grad Night party, which, according to the current website description, is a party with other high school seniors from all over the country. (Who thought this would be a good idea?)
Jacobs’s story is fairly tame and we were much more interested in this account from another Reddit user who claims to have also been a Disney cast member. Tank5150 writes:
Disney Jail Is Real
For Jacobs, the moment that tied with the Grad Night threat for “worst customer experience” was, he says, the “time I had to tell a guest that their son was in jail for stealing from one of the stores and she did not take it very well.”
Wait, what? Jail…at Disney World? Disney Jail exists?
Yes, apparently. “It’s just a room over the candy shop on main street,” writes Jacobs. “There’s an officer back there that takes people to the local jail on 33rd street in Orlando.”
That Disney Jail exists is a revelation for many. BuzzFeed even devoted an article to the topic, featuring tweets from people with first- or secondhand experience with the “mysterious purgatory.”
Even Goofy Can Be Fired
When someone asked Jacobs why he quit, the then-46-year-old responded:
This is strange, mainly because this sounds like the interactions between two actual Disney characters, rather than adult humans, and we’re not sure why it would be behavior deserving of firing, especially after 25 years. He later concedes:
No matter, pal; you’ll always be Goofy in our hearts.
There’s An Interesting Disney–Military Connection
One unexpected narrative that emerges in the Reddit thread is a Disney-military connection.
After Jacobs suggested he was fired because he was “sort of a whistle-blower,” Reddit users were quick to jump on that. “MICKEYLEAKS,” one user commented. “Snowden White,” another suggested.
The above is, of course, only a figurative (and hilarious) comparison, but often the intersection was more literal (and moving). When asked what he was considering for future career moves, Jacobs lamented that he wanted to find “something that gives me as much passion as Disney did, which is hard.”
One user suggested that, because of the large military presence in Florida, he might be well-suited to work for MWR (morale, welfare, and recreation) programs, helping veterans to cope with PTSD and depression.
The suggestion seems like an apt one for the former Disney devotee, who describes one of his most memorable guest experiences like this:
“There was an older gentleman that came up in the queue but didn’t come see me, he just sort of stood in the back and watched me for a while. After about 20 minutes he came up to me and said ‘Goofy, I had a special friend that would want you to have this.’ In Goofy you have to look down in order to make it look like Goofy is looking at you so I couldn’t see him but I heard him holding back the tears. He was shaking a bit but he gave me a hug anyway. I will never forget that hug. It was one of those hugs that last with you. He was crying in my arms.
“He had given me this which is a pin they give to family members or friends of POWs and MIAs. It’s become one of my most prized possessions.”
Disney Magic Does Exist But It Will Make You Cry
While we’re on the topic of Disney moments that will give you chills and possibly make you weep in a way that you really didn’t expect when you clicked on this article, let’s talk about the story of a family on a trip from overseas who were involved in a horrific car accident.
The details are too graphic to post here, the two young girls saw things that no person—especially a child—should ever have to see, and they were left orphaned. Despite the trauma, Goofy and his crew were able to take them out of their pain, even if only for a few hours, to a world where the children “had forgotten about death.”
This incredible story inspired fellow Redditors to donate to the Florida Hospital for Children. The hospital’s Amazon wishlist was full of toys to make life easier for kids staying there and the list was pretty much cleared out.
According to Upworthy, on top of cash donations, the hospital received three pallets worth of toys from inspired readers.
Then there’s the story of the kid whose visit was sponsored by the Make-A-Wish foundation. His wish was simply to be held by Goofy.
Sorry, can you just give us a minute? This is all the Disney magic we can handle for today. In the words of Reddit user BubblegumDaisies, “i’M WEEPING AT WORK AND i’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ON REDDIT !”