From: Brian “Astro, Space Doggie Extraordinaire” Hagen
Drat, I deleted the attribution, but I believe it was Mouse who said:
Most of the time it was pretty innocuous – the only effect is that
you hear someone knocking on your head and have to look around to make
sure someone isn't trying to get your attention – but there were some
smacks in there that the characters clearly felt, too. I saw one kid
standing behind Barney (who was kneeling down to hug some small kids)
trying to gather the nerve to kick him. He'd step forward, lift his
foot a bit, then chicken out. I think the fact that I was giving him
the evil eye helped restrain him a bit. Finally I just said, “I
wouldn't recommend kicking him,” and he took off. *sigh*
Oops, I said that. But he said this:
If I make one youngsters' day (6 or 60), it's worth it.
Yes indeedy. :) I just wanted to get the gripes out of my system – they're definitely a minor annoyance compared to the fun of the job. I get at least as many people who look like they're going to be obnoxious but turn out to be quite nice as I do people who are actually rude. That's always very refreshing. And more often than not I manage to get my paws on people who hit me and get my point across that I don't like being smacked. :) It's _very_ rare that they'll do anything that actually hurts me, so if I so much as ruffle their hair, I've annoyed them more than they annoyed me. >:) And quite a few people find having their hair mussed incredibly annoying.
And I get to make cute little kids very happy, which is most fulfilling. :) Some prime highlights of the job: parents telling me I'm the first character their kid has ever approached without screaming; little kids saying “Ri rove rou, Rastro” (that's Astro-ese, for those who aren't Hanna Barbera fans); a 10-year-old boy telling me, “I watched your show all the time when I was growing up!”; Dino riding the Tidal Wave on his last day of work (sadly, I didn't see it – I only heard the stories); several groups of kids meeting my allegedly clever pantomime in response to the question “Where are the rest of the Jetsons?” (I point up in the sky to indicate they're up in their space house) with a horrified “They _died_?” (just try pantomiming a shocked but silent “No! No!” while you're cracking up); and an endless parade of incredibly cute little kids (and, I will confess, some rather attractive ladies as well) hugging the dickens out of me. :) Oh, and of course there are all the kids who walk away after I lick them convinced that their hair is soaked with dog slobber. They're so cute….
So, to sum up – I may complain from time to time, but I love the job. :) And I feel better knowing things aren't any better elsewhere. I just wish security at the park weren't so ineffective. *sigh* Maybe next year…
And here's an interesting note – the majority of people who ask, “Before I hug Astro, is it a boy or a girl in the suit?” are, contrary to my expectations, female. I've had very few guys worry that they're actually hugging a male, but a number of women have said things along the lines of, “I hope you're not a girl in there!” Weird…
And, on a more bloodthirsty note, while we're on the subject of getting back at overly bellicose patrons, the best revenge of the season was wreaked upon the guy who punched George Jetson hard enough to knock her flat and give her a light concussion (she hit the ground hard). Turns out he was violating his probation by leaving Oakland, so he'll be a guest of the state for the next few months. :)
Which brings up another question for people with experience with other parks' costumes – our heads are relatively loose in the costume heads. The character heads are fiberglass shells (with the sole exception of Astro's head, which is made of stiff foam sheets), with a batting helmet stuck in them. Thus, they normally just rest loosely on the wearer's head. They're held on by a seat belt that's attached to the back of the head and belts around one's waist, and in many cases a chin-strap is used as well. This means that the wearer's head is relatively free to move around in there, which is why J.'s head smacked the ground inside George Jetson's head when she was knocked over. On the other hand, if the head was more firmly attached to your own head, all those punches would have a much more painful effect, exacerbated by the often excessive weight of the costume head. So how are other heads arranged, and do they have the same problems?
I've been at this steadily for 9 years, & I can say most emphatically
that it's getting worse. Movies like “Ace Ventura” & “9 Weeks” does
not help things for us characters.
Oh yes, it's just _so_ hilarious when people ask me, “Remember that scene in ?” I'd love to have a little certificate printed up for my escorts to hand out:
“Congratulations! You are the 10,000th Great America guest to make reference to 'Nine Months'!” (we'll just change the movie name as each new movie comes out) “Present this coupon at the nearest concession stand for a complimentary flagellation!”
With the state of the American vocabulary being what it is, I'm sure we'd get lots of takers. :) Although with the state of the America mind being what it is, I doubt they're appreciate the sarcasm. *sigh*
There has been some discussion from a variety of folks about the dangers of crowds when one is in costume. I've been meaning to respond to each one, but haven't found time. So here's a general response.
Yes, it's dangerous. I was lucky enough to never receive a major injury in costume. Crushed hands, twisted limbs, bruises, and such are about the worst I've had to deal with. I'm certain those who are in costume (and those who have been following the letters) can imagine how I acquired those. If someone's REALLY interested, ask and I'll get more specific.
Worse cases I knew of while working at Disney was the time Mickey was stabbed in the side with a knife. It would have been the back, but our Mickey was a survivalist and heard the switchblade eject and turned. Another baddie was the time Robin Hood had several ribs cracked. Two kids grabbed hold of him while a third tried to yank the tail off… not realizing the tail was belted on (like my blue fox). The belts cracked Robin's ribs.
Where was Disney security? Disney never had much in those days. One supervisor per 4 units. This was kind of nice… allowed three units to have real fun. :) However it would cause some problem situations. The more experienced characters could usually handle situations. Now, Disneyland has gotten very security oriented… mostly due to increased crowds. In fact, the last few visits I notice less and less characters wandering and more and more in special sets for photos. Kind of dull for the characters.
Oh… and on a “Lance” side. One character developed a serious face infection from wearing unclean heads. Disney was never charged with any misconduct, it was the character's job to clean out the head, but they did pay for the six years of plastic surgery it took to correct the fellow's face. Fursuiters beware!
You will also be coming across some real rude ones out there who will claim that it's not Halloween. Tell them so what, people costume all the time. Children are brutally honest with you. They have been known to ask if you're a real animal or turning into one.
boogi had on Mutant Cat at a state fair performing with someone else, and was sitting down for a bit. A little girl approached him, looked him up and down, came closer, felt and pet his paws. The question came when she looked up into his eyes…
“Are you a real cat?”