Mascot Consulting - Professional mascot training and performing - http://www.people.virginia.edu/~jmg6e/
The Mascot Organization - Promotional character staffing - http://www.mascot.org/
Critters by the Bay - http://www.crittersbythebay.com/
Most theme-parks will have annual or bi-annual auditions immediately preceding their busy seasons. At these auditions you may be asked to: interact with the other auditionees, entertain the casting directors, perform a choreographed dance routine, try on a costume, or all of the above. Try contacting the casting department of the local theme-parks in your area for audition times and places. Keep in mind that most parks pay rather poorly, and the hours are long. You will be expected to perform regardless of weather conditions. You will also be abused by the patrons. (This is a fact, not an opinion.)
From: Big Bear
This question is for the professionals who work in the theme parks. How do they determine which charcacters to assign you? Is it done by audition? Is it done by seniority? Is it done at random? Please let me know.
Many responses, all summarized here;
o Auditions are held
o Many places go by height and weight, other times average height range
o sometimes it's personal preference
o Disney characters are always by height/weight
Woody Allen once said “90% of winning is just showing up”. That's always been a favorite of mine. (courtesy of AfterFox)
From Prankster Panther
An audition for a professional mascot will vary from team to team, and even from league to league. Some teams, such as several NBA teams, want performers with the capability to perform high flying dunks or stunts. Many NHL teams have mascots that are required to rappel down from the arena rafters.
The hiring process starts with a resume. Make sure to detail all prior character work you have done, and any experience that you feel will add value to you. Pictures and copies of work you have done (a script of an assembly you wrote for your mascot is an example) are even better. Based of my resume “packet” I got invited to audition for the Toronto Blue Jays (couldn't attend the audition), and they had not even seen me perform. On the other hand, the same packet with a video could not land me an audition for the Utah Starzz WNBA team. It all depends on the people in charge. Presentation is very important though. The more professional you are, the better. Save the hijinks for the in costume portion of the audition.
After the resume submissions, the team will narrow the candidates down to around ten who they will invite in for an audition. For Toronto, they asked the candidates to come prepared with a 1 minute skit, and they would give a spontaneous 1 minute skit. Find out if the team will be providing the mascot costume for you to perform in at the audition. If they are not, it is very wise to bring your own. Even if they are providing a suit, you will be better acclimated to your suit, and you will know its problems and pluses. The rest of the audition was an interview. Some popular questions are: why do you want to be a mascot? What current mascot would you like to model yourself after? There may even be a section for prop use. For Knightro, the coach emptied out a box of various items, telling is that we had to use at least 3 of the items, and none of the items could be used for what it was (a spoon could not be a spoon). With these props we had to create a skit.
Theme park auditions also vary. I have gone through the Disney process, but I cannot detail any other theme parks processes. The Disney audition consists of three phases.
#1 a character animation. The person in charge will give you an animation situation. Some have been: making a pizza, changing a tire, decorating a christmas tree, and building a snowman. Keys to good animation;
1.) Big big movements. Exaggerate everything! If you are getting a tire out of the trunk, don't just pick it up- heave it up… struggle with it. Walk bowlegged as you take out to the place, wipe sweat from your head, exaggerate!
2.) Remember where things are in your “pretend” world. If you open a door and walk through it, remember where that door is when you have to come back through it.
3.) Have a beginning, middle, and end. Tell a story in your skit. If decorating a tree, don't just sit there and decorate it. Go get a tree, set it up, decorate it, and then put gifts under it.
4.) Make it unique. One girl who had “decorate a tree” decided to go out in the woods and chop her tree down and drag it inside. When I had “make a pizza”, I decided to go pick my tomatoes, and make my own pizza sauce (lots of jumping and squishing). This calls the judge's attention to you.
#2 Dance sequence. The dancing portion is to help the judge gauge where you are in a dancing level. Different character positions require different levels. A parade performer or a show character will need more dancing skills than a character used for meet and greets. You will learn in phases different steps. Each step will go up in difficulty. If you can dance, then good for you! But for people like me who dance like a spaz, the key is to keep smiling! If you miss one step, try and remember the next and go from there, or try to cover up your mistake. DO NOT stop and look confused, and try to figure the next step out. Keep moving. The judge may see that you can't dance, but it is more important that you don't just quit.
#3 Puppetry. I have not done this portion of the audition, but its what it says. You get a song and you have to puppeteer to it. Basically you just use your hand. Simple enough!
In places with large crowds, think of how theatre actors have to be at times. Actors who use sign language in deaf theatre have to use big signs, otherwise their lines will be missed. In short, make big entrances and actions, big enough for the little old lady with bad vision in the upper rows.